Designing products for manufacturing is sometimes what sets mechanical engineering apart from mechanical or industrial designers. Mechanical designs can be aesthetically pleasing, but they must also be manufacturable. Current manufacturing technologies can produce incredible results, but there are limits. Knowing those capabilities and limits allows an engineer to choose appropriate methods for component fabrication. Our engineers are familiar with proven and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and can create designs that are compatible with them. Production costs and impacts to a products bill of materials (BoM)are also taken into consideration, which, if not properly managed can be prohibitive.
Machining is a subtractive manufacturing process, which means a solid piece of material is cut into a desired shape. Machining is a traditional manufacturing technique and current technologies allow for quick turnaround times.
VPI has experienced engineers that design CAD models that can then be sent off to reputable machine shops that will produce the part you need.
A few common cutting techniques include die, laser, water jet, and plasma cutting. Laser cutting and plasma cutting use heat to melt the material they are cutting. Laser cutting uses concentrated light energy to melt materials. Plasma cutters use a combination of electrical heat and compressed air to heat and then remove material. Water jet cutting uses a thin, high-pressure stream of water to blast through the desired material. Our engineers can help you choose the correct cutting process for your project.
Additive Manufacturing includes a variety of modern manufacturing techniques that have become possible through recent technology.
One of the first techniques that comes to mind, related to additive manufacturing is 3D printing. It has become popular, since 3D printers are relatively inexpensive and readily available to the public.
Other additive manufacturing techniques include fused deposition modeling (FDM), stereolithography (SLA), direct metal deposition (DMD), and selective laser sintering (SLS).
Casting is often used to produce metal components. It is similar to injection molding in that molten material is poured into a form.
Stamping uses extreme pressure to form components. It is an efficient process and can be used for high-volume production runs.
Injection molding is a commonly used manufacturing technique that produces precision formed components. The process involves injecting molten material into a form, then letting it cool and harden into the desired shape. It is an effective technique for mass producing components from easily melted materials like plastics.
VPI's engineers carefully select the materials used both for the product and for the mold. A mold's composition varies based on the number of components that will be produced using it, the material that will be injected into it, and your budget. More durable molds tend to be more expensive, but they are not always necessary if only a few components needed.