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Our Process

With any new assignment, our creative brainstorming and ideation is where the fun begins. At Simplexity, we start concept generation in a distinctive manner. This kickoff, an essential part of our design process, has proven over decades to deliver the simplest, most effective product engineering results possible.

How do we do it? We start with the big picture. This team kick-off is a creative, blue-sky kind of place. Everything’s on the table; the scope, the paradigms, the traditional and not-so-traditional engineering choices.

By beginning the project from a systems perspective, we can question assumptions and brainstorm solutions that would not be possible by looking at things piecemeal. We identify the most challenging aspects and dig in. If a feasibility study is called for we identify it right away. Next, we’re relentless in drilling down to identify the most challenging, highest-risk areas of the project. The best ideas that come out of this process are honed and refined into a system architecture that delivers the most successful product possible.

7 Steps to Simplification©

 

Ask enough questions to really understand every aspect of the product; distilling it down to its bare essence:

  • What must the product do?
  • Why is that important?
  • What is most important?
  • What other ways were considered for making it work?
  • Why were alternate ways not implemented?

Separate what the product must do from ways of designing it. If your mind jumps to a solution, ask if there is a reason it couldn’t be implemented, but don’t get tied to the first or most obvious solution. Keep asking questions about how the product must work and why, not only how to solve production details.

 

Writing a product specification is one of the most important steps in the development process, and one that is most often skipped. Teams often think they know what they want to design, but writing down the specification clarifies that, and often reveals disconnects and conflicting assumptions.

No one ever got the specification right the first time they wrote it down; the only ‘wrong’ specification is one that is undocumented. Write down what you know, and what you still need to find out.

Document the understanding of the product today, even though it will change tomorrow.

 

Invite all engineering disciplines to the brainstorming party; especially, for products with “smarts”, consider solutions with a multi-disciplinary mindset.

  • Can a mechanical task be eliminated by enhancing the software?
  • Can software be simplified by adding a simple mechanism?
  • Can a smaller motor and electronics be used by adding a gear train?

Question assumptions about which engineering discipline is responsible for which function.

Brainstorm on individual subsystems, but then take those brainstorming results to focus on the whole.

 

Prove out the highest risk, difficult problems first.

  • How will users interact with the product?
  • Which manufacturing processes would be best to use?
  • What are some alternates that may not have been considered?
  • What will the assembly steps be?
  • Can tight tolerances in a part be eliminated by changing how the parts interact?
 

Use that engineering education; don’t be afraid to do the math!

  • Use engineering analysis to confirm design assumptions.
  • Perform simple hand calculations to optimize part sizing and strength.
  • Create computer simulations where appropriate to cut down on physical iterations.
 
  • Prototype as soon as you can get feedback on at least one area. One prototype is worth 1,000 expert opinions.
  • Reduce risk by building tools to test the performance of key design aspects and parameters in isolation.
  • Test prototypes and products from using simple desktop tests to fully instrumented experiments. Iterate as many times as the budget and schedule allows.
 
  • Match the manufacturing partners with the job at hand. There is no one-size-fits-all partner.
  • Choose vendors that can substantiate quality outcomes and methodologies.
  • Build relationships and be sure that it’s easy to communicate.
  • Have manufacturing partners give feedback on the design, as early as possible.
  • Be wary of any company that says they can do it all (all companies have their strengths and weaknesses)
Mechanical
Engineering
Electrical
Engineering
Computer
Engineering
Control Systems
Engineering
Mechanical
Engineering
 

Mechanical Engineering

Design & Prototyping

  • Custom design of mechanisms using linkages, springs, pneumatics, hydraulics and other mechanical and electro-mechanical actuators.
  • Selection and design of various mechanical assemblies and drives like gear trains, belt drives, pulleys, torque couplings, linear motion slides, ball screw, and lead screw drives
  • Component design including bearings, linkages, and structural assemblies
  • Custom gear train design, including injection molded gears with optimized tooth geometry and gear ratios to drive the system at appropriate torque, minimize the current draw at the motor and prevent the system from overheating during continuous operation
  • Fluidic, pneumatic, mechanical, optics, solar, sound, seals, over-molding, and thermal design
  • Manual, multiple degree of freedom (DOF) tools and fully automated tools (based on throughput and need)
  • 3D CAD Modeling
  • Detailed 2D drawings with GD&T specifications per ANSI and ASME standards
  • Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)
  • Preparing detailed Bill of Materials (BOM) for procurement of parts for assembly
  • Prototyping using various processes including 3D printing, machining, casting

Analysis & Testing

  • Structural, Vibration, and Modal Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Thermal and Fluid Finite Element Analysis (FEA), including steady state and transient analysis, conduction, natural/forced convection
  • Thermal models to predict temperature for heating and cooling
  • Gear train analysis and optimization to ensure that gear angles, material and types are robust and appropriate for the application
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
  • ANOVA Design of Experiments (DOE): Design experiments with a matrix composed of different ranges of parameters in order to optimize performance
  • Statistical analysis to determine if performance outputs are within Six Sigma
  • EOL (End of Line) and mid-line testing tools and processes
  • Design of high precision tools for measuring flatness, straightness, pitch, roll, step time, and various parameters
  • Environmental testing using a Thermotron SM32SN Temp/Humidity chamber
  • Quality Assurance Testing: Accelerated Life, HALT, and STRIFE
Electrical
Engineering
 

Electrical Engineering

  • PCA and Flex architecture, design, layout, and prototyping
  • EMC, ESD, RFI, Design for compliance
  • Electrical design for high volume production, design for manufacturing, design for low cost
  • 3D mechanical modeling of PCAs, electronics packaging, and cooling
  • Digital design, FPGAs, Verilog, and simulation.
  • High and low speed busses.
  • Sensors, low noise amplifiers, thermocouples, optical, encoders, and strain gages
  • Power supply and battery specifications and design
  • Cable harnesses design and prototyping
Computer
Engineering
 

Computer Engineering

Firmware

  • Logic, programming, and control of electronic and electro-mechanical components like sensors, motors, pumps, and solenoids
  • Servo control, PWM control, actuation and automation of electronic and electro-mechanical components
  • Sensor interface and data collection
  • Motor control: brushed DC, brushless DC and stepper motors
  • Servo control for position, velocity, torque or force control
  • Device I/O: serial, USB, RS232, RS485, I2C, 2wire, SPI, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Zwave, Cellular modem
  • Embedded Operating Systems: RealTime (Threadx VxWorks, uCos), Embedded Linux, BSPs
  • Microprocessors: ARM, Intel, 8051 variants, PIC, x86, AVR

Software

  • Windows Development: C#, C++, C, Java
  • Host applications: Development tools, test execution and production, End of Line (EOL), Quality Control (QC)
  • Databases
  • Web applications/services: Dynamic data management and presentation
  • Mobile platforms: Windows Mobile, Android, iOS
  • Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
  • Labview, Matlab
Control Systems
Engineering
 

Control Systems Engineering

  • Motion Control, including real time systems for motion control
  • Motor selection, drive electronics and algorithms for Brushed DC, Stepper, Servo motors, and Brushless DC motors
  • Feedback sensor selection and interfacing
  • PID and State Space controllers for applications such as pressure, temperature, velocity and torque control
  • Supervisory logic, programming and control of electronic and electro-mechanical components like sensors, motors, pumps and solenoids
  • Dynamic Systems Modeling and Feedback Control Systems/Servo Analysis with Matlab and Simulink.
  • Co-simulation of embedded control firmware and dynamic systems for verification.
  • Kinematic analysis and simulation of different mechanisms and linkages benchmark workability in achieving desired motion
  • Dynamic analysis to determine torque or counter-balance required
  • Vibrational analysis and solutions to reduce vibration and noise
  • Modeling, for example to predict pressure of ink along various portions of an ink delivery system

The torsion spring concept for the door strike project, that your team came up with, is a huge success. Our lab unit will achieve 1 million cycles early next week. Many thanks to the team at Simplexity for saving this project.

— Wayne Henry, Advanced Manufacturing  Engineer
Autosplice Inc.

Environmental Testing

Our custom test plans that help prove client specifications are rigorous. Environmental testing is in-house on our Thermotron SM32SN Temp/Humidity chamber: