November 24, 2009
Moving From Invention to Production
Effective design; prototype; tooling and production all contribute to one inventor’s success story.
Moving Technology Forward, Inc., patent holder of the Erase-O-Matic, recently achieved a refined design, a production-ready prototype, and minimized tooling and production costs during the development of their unique invention. The company realized these achievements through a partnership with Auburn Engineering and its parent company, Dynetics. Auburn Engineering and Dynetics worked with the inventor to take the innovation from an idea to a producible prototype and actual production piece. The team worked together to not only design for functionality, but also optimize design, minimize the number of parts, ensure quality, reliability, ease of production, styling, and assembly.
In today’s wired world, it is imperative for businesses and individuals to avoid identify theft. The key is to effectively safeguard and dispose of personal and financial information stored on a variety of media, including VHS video tapes, camcorder tapes, audio cassettes, PC disks, Zip disks, hard drives, or other magnetically recorded media.
In response, Alabama-based Moving Technology Forward, Inc. originated the idea of the Erase-O-Matic magnetic media eraser using a technology that is now available and affordable for commercial, individual and family use at erase-o-matic.com.
This desktop bulk eraser, or degausser, clears magnetically recorded media such as video and audio tapes and computer disks and hard drives instantly. It uses powerful permanent magnets, instead of electricity, to clear such recorded information.
It requires no maintenance to prevent or repair problems, as there are no moving or electrical parts to become defective. The invention solves the problem of proprietary data being retrieved by unauthorized persons, helps protect privacy and prevent identity theft.
A Workable Reality
Moving Technology Forward partnered with Auburn Engineering (Rochester Hills, Michigan) and its parent company, Dynetics (Huntsville, Alabama) to undertake the process of transforming this useful invention into a workable reality.
Notes Larry Sexton, Southeast Regional manager, Auburn Engineering: “When it came time for the design, prototype, plastic injection molding, and production phase, the inventor looked to our team to help reduce part complexity for streamlined and cost-effective production. It was important to work together to design, prototype and produce the Erase-O-Matic for the best manufacturability.”
Manufacturability of the Erase-O-Matic was assured by developing the product in a collaborative team environment with active participation from Moving Technology Forward, Dynetics Industrial Automation Group , and its rapid prototyping and limited production company partner, Auburn Engineering.
Design for Production
Dynetics and Auburn Engineering leveraged their deep expertise in specialized plastics design and plastic injection molding, developing concepts and early design renderings to help arrive at an optimal design.
Using the latest 3D CAD system tools, the team refined the design of the Erase-O-Matic so the prototype was near production ready, complete with appropriate part component thicknesses, optimal rib structure construction, and aesthetically pleasing design of the outer shell. Once the team proved the design, only limited modifications were needed to move to the production tool process and prototype production. SLA models of all features and parts were built, and the polyurethane prototype was then produced.
Explains Ricky Jordan, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Dynetics Industrial Automation Group, “We essentially started with an early model the inventor constructed out of wood. We then developed a 3D CAD model of the design complete with photo renderings. Once approved, the 3D data was utilized in both the prototype and production tooling processes. This project was a great example of turning a useful and innovative invention from an idea to a production product”
Keys to Success
Key to the success of this project was the ability of the team to design for production, minimize the number of parts, reduce potential for problems in the molding phase, and design and produce a component for streamlined assembly.
As an example, the original model called for plastic injection molded components that would necessitate an undercut, a complex molding process which would have added cost to the molding process. Auburn and Dynetics removed the need for the costly undercut process, reducing the time and costs of tooling.
The tooling process was also managed more cost-efficiently with Auburn’s relationships with offshore vendors which delivered high quality steel molds at a competitive price.
In all, Auburn engineering and Dynetics helped Moving Technology Forward with an effective prototype design, prototype build, and helped simplify design, reduce costs of producing injection molds, and production molding. The advantage is that the component is manufactured to meet a key price point since production costs were minimized. With an initial production volume of 1,000 units, plans are to expand production as sales and marketing activities continue.
For more information about Erase-O-Matic, go to http://www.erase-o-matic.com.