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The Simplexity blog is a space for creativity and exploration. We strive to enrich and advance our product development skills through external and internal discovery. We hope to share fascinating topics, new technologies, and progressive processes from the outside world as well as our own reflections and insight for improving design.

Risk Mitigation in Product Design: Part 1

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

28-Jun-2017

During product development, you must take risks to achieve market success. To also achieve business success, it’s critical for a design firm to assess and address risks as early and affordably as possible. At Simplexity, we’ve spent our careers helping a wide variety of companies do just that, and view risk mitigation as an integral part of the stages of product development.

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San Diego's Biotech Consortium

By Raj Oswal, Director Strategic Relations, Biotech

09-Jun-2017

The San Diego Biotech Consortium is a regional partnership of service companies dedicated to promoting best practices in product development for the Biotech industry. The Consortium offers leaders of biotech and life sciences companies a resource for tapping into best-in-class technologies and expertise in product, instrument, and cartridge design from concept through manufacturing. Each Consortium member is a sought-after specialist in their field, and the formal collaboration offers ease of selection for Biotech firms needing a fully integrated solution or a-la-carte services to augment or add capacity to their team.

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Appropriate Models for 3D Motion Analysis: Part 3

By Josh Siegel, Mechanical Engineer

25-Apr-2017

At Simplexity, part of our work is designing embedded motion systems. As embedded motion engineers, we have to know how the smart electronics get placed within the physical structure (“embedded”) and how each component moves relative to each other (“motion”). In this three-part series, I delve into how we describe and model the latter term, motion, which we often take for granted as being quite simple.

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University of Oregon’s Product Design Program Is One of a Kind

By Gabriel Aldaz, Director of Bay Area Office

19-Apr-2017

In the early 1900s, the University of Oregon lost its Department of Engineering and Mines to Oregon Agricultural College, today known as Oregon State University, in Corvallis. Ten years ago, the University of Oregon bounced back by creating the Department of Product Design as part of its School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

In addition to its primary location in Eugene, the department recently opened a branch housed at the historic White Stag Building in Portland. The Sports Product Design program will be the only graduate program of its kind in the world. The curriculum includes courses in sports product design, materials and manufacturing, sports product branding and marketing, human physiology, and communications. It’s a great match for Oregon’s growing sports and apparel industry, which includes Columbia Sportswear, Adidas North America, and of course Nike, headquartered near Beaverton.

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Appropriate Models for 3D Motion Analysis: Part 2

By Josh Siegel, Mechanical Engineer

14-Apr-2017

At Simplexity, part of our work is designing embedded motion systems. As embedded motion engineers, we have to know how the smart electronics get placed within the physical structure (“embedded”) and how each component moves relative to each other (“motion”). In this three-part series, I delve into how we describe and model the latter term, motion, which we often take for granted as being quite simple.

In my introduction to 3D motion analysis, I discussed why it’s important to analyze motion, and I provided a simple 2D gear example. In that 2D example, each of the rotating components was rotating through a single angle, rotating about a single axis, and rotating about its center of mass.

In this post, I explain why those simple relations aren’t universal, and why we have to be cautious when using them to help solve engineering problems.

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From Engineer to Leader: How Do You Get There?

By Dorota Shortell, Chief Executive Officer

12-Apr-2017

I was recently asked by the Society of Women Engineers to give a talk on leadership. The organizers of the event asked me to share my story of how I went from an engineering role to running a company. In preparing for the talk, it was a good opportunity for some self-reflection, to really think back on those pivotal moments and actions that made a difference as I progressed in my career.

While I was planning on discussing some characteristics that are typical to women in engineering, it was important to me that the talk applied universally to all engineers, not only women. For that matter, even though I did approach the talk from the lens of being an engineer, I hoped it would also be applicable to other professionals wanting to move up into leadership roles in any industry.

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Appropriate Models for 3D Motion Analysis: Part 1

By Josh Siegel, Mechanical Engineer

06-Apr-2017

At Simplexity, part of our work is designing embedded motion systems. As embedded motion engineers, we have to know how the smart electronics get placed within the physical structure (“embedded”) and how each component moves relative to each other (“motion”). In this three-part series, I delve into how we describe and model the latter term, motion, which we often take for granted as being quite simple.

In the first of the three posts, I will discuss what we care about with regards to motion. I’ll also walk through an example where it’s appropriate to use simplified motion equations.

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Why Engineering Still Matters in Product Development

By Gabriel Aldaz, Director of Bay Area Office

29-Mar-2017

The prototyping process is faster and easier than ever before. The Maker Movement encourages us to build, build, build. Rapid prototyping with Arduino and 3D-printed parts and overnight shipping from McMaster-Carr and Digi-Key enable engineers to quickly prove out concepts. The resulting tangible objects can validate a critical functionality or communicate a design intent.

Equally important, you can show your prototypes to prospective customers who will give you valuable feedback on usability, shape, size, weight, and much more. But is there such a thing as too much prototyping? We think so.

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How Mechatronics Improve Drone Technology

By Asa Weiss, Mechanical Engineer

16-Feb-2017

Discover how each of the fundamental mechatronics fields are influencing the drone industry, resulting in large commercial adoption.

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Why You Need a Gyro to Measure Position

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

20-Jan-2017

A common misconception about products such as the ST560 and the HSI Loop CPR Training Device®, is that the only sensor required is an accelerometer. In order to create a viable IMU for measuring the position of a device in free space, it is critical to have both a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis rate gyroscope.

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Why I, As The CEO, Get The Same Bonus As All My Other Employees

By Dorota Shortell, Chief Executive Officer

13-Dec-2016

I’ve noticed that in corporate America there is often a class system. There’s the executive class and then there’s the working class. The executives are paid way more, get better benefits, and get big bonuses. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Mechatronics Aids In Embedded System Design

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

07-Dec-2016

By looking at embedded systems from a different perspective, a mechatronics perspective, systems can be improved while saving cost.

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Top 10 Tips for Designing Injection Molded Plastic Parts

By Keisha Dorsey, SENIOR MECHANICAL ENGINEER

22-Nov-2016

Injection molded plastic parts have some wonderful benefits including scalability, the ability to make simple to extremely complex parts, and uniformity, the ability to make hundreds to millions of virtually identical parts.

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British school kids and car hackers: the widespread appeal of open source

By Gabriel Aldaz, Director of Bay Area Office

14-Nov-2016

In product development, choosing open versus closed hardware and software platforms requires careful consideration. Selecting open source hardware has advantages and limitations. From a marketing point of view, however, there is no doubt that the term “open source” generates positive connotations and still generates buzz.

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When should you consider designing custom gears?

By Michael Allison, PE, Expert Mechanical Engineer

07-Nov-2016

There are typically a number of considerations when choosing whether you want to use a stock gear or to design a custom gear. Two of the key considerations are cost and performance.

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Conference Report: Open Source Hardware Summit

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

31-Oct-2016

A detailed recap of the 2016 Open Source Hardware Summit in Portland, Oregon.

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What is a Motion Control System?

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

20-Oct-2016

At the most fundamental level, a motion control system is any system that controls energy flow to generate mechanical motion with some desired properties.

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The Top 10 Questions to ask a Product Development Firm

By Dorota Shortell, Chief Executive Officer

05-Oct-2016

If you’re trying to decide whether to hire a product development firm, or determine which one is best for your needs, here are the top 10 questions that you should ask.

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The Potential of the Apple AirPods To Disrupt A Whole Industry

By Gabriel Aldaz, Director of Bay Area Office

12-Sep-2016

The new Apple AirPods have the potential to fuse traditional headphones with hearing aids. The baby boomer who refuses to wear hearing aids will see people of all ages wearing AirPods and will want a pair for himself. And by the way, what if those AirPods could also amplify speech and cancel noise?

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How to Use Open Source Hardware in Product Development

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

01-Sep-2016

There are many amazing open source hardware (OSHW) printed circuit assembly (PCA) projects available today. Arduino®, BeagleBone®, Rasperry Pi®, OpenPilot®, and RepRap® are a few of the bigger names, but there are many, many more.

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What is the mech in mechatronics?

By John Pruyn, PE, Senior Mechanical Engineer

16-Aug-2016

Mechatronics is not only about the motor, but rather getting the most out of the motors you have. To do that you have to step back and look at the whole system. Medium and high volume products can deliver high performance motion control and value-added features at low direct material costs if the work has been done up front to get the mechanics right.

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3 Tips for IoT Product Success

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

02-Aug-2016

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the rest of the crowd sourcing world are overrun with product ideas for connecting different things to the internet. Here are three things to think about when designing your IoT product.

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When Should I Start Designing For High-Volume Manufacturing?

By Dorota Shortell, Chief Executive Officer

19-Jul-2016

On more than one occasion, a company has approached Simplexity to ask if we can “look at this prototype, work out any bugs, and release it for high-volume manufacturing.” While that sounds easy, most times that prototype is neither designed nor ready for high-volume manufacturing.

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Designing a 3D Printer for the Home

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

29-Jun-2016

The market for 3D printers has exploded over the last few years. There have been great advances in printer hardware, materials, and the software ecosystem required to allow 3D printers to become a viable tool for engineers and hobbyists alike.

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It Turns Out That EMC Is Not Black Magic

By Kristin Pollock, Electrical Engineer

22-Jun-2016

Electromagnetic Compatibility is the branch of electrical engineering concerned with the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects in operational equipment. EMC is often described as ‘black magic’, so getting an intuition for the subject is a valuable asset.

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Selecting the correct motor type and size

By Bob Callaway, Expert Systems Engineer

06-Jun-2016

What is the correct (or best) motor to use in a motion control application? Given the myriad choices of type, size and performance it should not be surprising that there is no simple choice of motor that supplies the answer to that question.

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When brainstorming fails, throw an imaginary cat

By Gabriel Aldaz, Director of Bay Area Office

18-May-2016

This past month I was asked to speak on the topic of concept generation, also known as ideation, at Professor Larry Leifer’s 3D Printing and Design course – ME137/237 – at Stanford University. At these talks, I always ask the audience to shout out methods that are useful in generating creative solutions to a problem. “Brainstorming” is invariably heard first, perhaps followed by some of its derivatives, such as bodystorming, assumption storming, and brainwriting. Then the room goes quiet. What happened? Brainstorming seems to enjoy a near monopoly on concept generation methods.

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Five Tips for Mechatronic System Integration

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

09-May-2016

To achieve the optimal cost/performance ratio in any system, the design must be tightly integrated. All of the system components must be working together in harmony, with minimal overlap in function and any excess design margin eliminated. Here are five tips to help you achieve tight design integration in your next mechatronic design.

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Three Tips for Designing High Volume Mechatronic Products

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

28-Apr-2016

In high volume designs, the design NRE (non-recurring engineering cost) is often greatly outweighed by the component cost multiplied by the volume, the total cost of production over the production life. It’s absolutely critical that you understand the trade-off between design NRE and BOM cost in high volume designs. Here are three things that will have the biggest impact on improving the quality of your solution.

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What Is Mechatronics?

By Doug Harriman, Chief Technology Officer

18-Apr-2016

The word "mechatronics" was first coined in Japan in the late 1960’s to refer to the synergistic blend of mechanics and electronics. The word has evolved to describe products and systems that include not only mechanics and electronics, but the software in the electronics, and the control algorithms in that software. Mechatronic systems encompass many of the products we deal with every day, especially those that interact with the physical world.

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If I could only do 3 things to simplify a design, what should they be?

By Dorota Shortell, Chief Executive Officer

06-Apr-2016

People are often curious about what our secret sauce is for achieving such simple designs for complex products. While I could get into all the details- things like hiring great people, building a culture of excellence, emphasizing technical engineering skills, capitalizing on a broad database of reference designs, and leveraging manufacturing experience- I’d like to just focus on three things that have the most impact.

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