Revolutionizing Product Development and Electronic Contract...

Revolutionizing Product Development and Electronic Contract Manufacturing

Manufacturing Technology Insights | Friday, April 28, 2023

The continued evolution and adoption of technologies are expected to have a significant impact on new product development and contract manufacturing in 2023 and beyond, making it faster, more efficient, and more collaborative.

FREMONT, CA: ♉Manufacturers are always looking for ways to enhance the quality, speed, and economics of mass production due to the pressure on accelerated innovation and shortened development timelines.

To enhance the quality, speed, and cost-effectiveness of mass production, manufacturers are continuously seeking new methods. Two such approaches are new product development (NPD) and design for manufacturing (DFM), which can utilize technological advances to enhance their outcomes. These improvements change the way designers and engineers conceive product development and the way designs can be translated into manufacturing processes. The enhancements in the technology used for new product development and design for manufacturing have standard features that enable better collaboration between design and manufacturing teams, resulting in improved innovation, quality, cycle time, and cost efficiency. Business leaders seek these improvements to enhance their operations.

Cloud-Based Design and Analysis

The primary method for designing products is computer-aided design, which involves creating a 3D digital model that specifies the size and shape of the product. This model is used to inform the process team about the features of the product. Computer-aided engineering is used to stimulate performance and refine the design before creating a physical prototype. Cloud-based platforms can overcome the limitations of traditional design and engineering software by offering increased security and software management. They also provide support for design collaboration and the virtually unlimited solving capacity of CAE, addressing the need for improved model and analysis outputs. This technology can also free up internal teams to focus on specialized tasks while allowing for parallel work to be done on the same project.

AI and ML

The transition from a prototype manufacturing process to a high-volume format is a complex task. To address this, software engineers are integrating AI into CAD tools to reduce design iterations and enhance dimensional accuracy. AI can also identify variances in the design, thereby reducing the need for manual inspection. Additionally, AI can automate repetitive tasks such as preparing CAD models for finite element CAE analysis by eliminating tolerance gaps.

VR and AR

In today's industry, visualization is playing an essential role in bringing product design to life. Design teams can benefit significantly from seeing physical parts to understand how the product should look and to develop additional features. This approach can be enhanced with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, which allows designers and engineers to experience the product in a 3D virtual space. Using VR and AR technology can also accelerate the design process and optimize design cycles. Furthermore, the design files can be easily shared with remote or supplier contacts to communicate key design features.

Enhanced PLM Integration

Product lifestyle management is crucial for managing a product from its conception to its disposal. With the increasing complexity of products due to digitalization and integrated functions, functional teams need to collaborate effectively. Integrated PLM allows each team member to take ownership of their specific portion while working in concert with the rest of the team. This approach enhances efficiency by letting each team member leverage their strengths and promotes a sense of ownership within the group for the product. However, PLM integrates with contract manufacturing partners, which streamlines the design handoff and minimizes the number of design and process iterations.

Registered Designs

To manage intellectual property (IP) for a product, various software and tools are used. This includes IP management software to track the registration process, document management systems, legal services, and virtual patent databases. Patent databases are also used for prior art searches to understand the white space for an invention and the freedom to operate (FTO) in a specific area. For design registration, scanners, graphics tablets, digital cameras, and software like Adobe Illustrator are used to capture and communicate the product's shape. The use of cloud-based design and analysis, AI/ML, VR/AR, improved PLM integration, and registered design tools can improve product development and contract manufacturing through better collaboration, increased insights, and efficient task modification. These technologies enable teams to leverage each other's strengths and work together more effectively. Businesses need to change their approach to product development and embrace technology to reap these benefits. In the past, product development was a linear process, but this is changing due to the influence of technology. In 2023, several technologies are streamlining new product development and contract manufacturing. One of the most significant is the continued growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications in product design and development. These technologies can help companies quickly identify design flaws, simulate various scenarios, and optimize production processes. The increasing use of collaborative platforms and digital tools allows different teams to work together more efficiently, even if they are geographically dispersed. Cloud-based software solutions are becoming more prevalent, providing real-time visibility into project progress and data sharing across different departments. In addition, advancements in 3D printing and other additive manufacturing techniques make it seamless and more cost-effective for companies to create prototypes and small-scale production runs. This allows for more rapid iteration and testing of new product designs, which can help speed up the development process.

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