At Westminster Tool, we use our thorough design for manufacture (DFM) process to create a mold that not only meets the needs of our customers, but also considers potential risks they haven’t faced yet. Whether designing for a new or existing part, we take a comprehensive view of every tool to look beyond the goal to consider the ease of manufacturing and any potential challenges. In doing so, we can not only exceed our customers’ expectations, but we can also create a mold that delivers consistent parts time after time.
The Design Process – Conception to Completion
The design for manufacture process is thorough to ensure we create sustainable success. To take responsibility for how the plastic is going to perform, the Westminster Tool team reviews every potential challenge that could threaten the project before the steel is cut. Through three key processes: a CT scan, dimensional risk analysis and a moldflow analysis, our team looks to expose as many potential challenges upfront because it is easier to change a design rather than the steel itself.
Before we create a tool, our team must understand what true success for the finished plastic part looks like. If success is not first defined, then it is impossible to achieve it. Our team has a personal obligation to understand the quality process and the characteristics that go into creating a successful mold. We can determine what success is for the finished part by utilizing two tools: CT scanning and dimensional risk analysis.
At project inception, the design process begins with a full dimensional risk analysis. This takes an in depth look at every tolerance on the 2D part print. It can be used to identify critical dimensions and determine the risk level for each dimension of a part. We use this information to identify potential areas of concern with the part before we begin designing the tool.
Our design team uses CT scan analysis software to compare an existing molded part to a provided 2D print of that part. High risk and critical dimensions are the first areas of the CT scan to analyze, as they are typically critical to function, and are what we will be held to when building a mold. Because the CT scan shows a true representation of the part, it can give more information than a simpler inspection of a critical area. The CT scan also confirms whether the existing part and 2D print match. This is important because if the existing part does not match, the data from the 2D print will not accurately represent the part that our customer wants us to make a mold for.
Following our review and identifying mitigation ideas, a full stack up of the mold design allows us to perform a Moldex 3D Moldflow analysis. We do this analysis to cut down on risks that could arise during mold trials to avoid costly troubleshooting, which wastes time and materials.
The process concludes with one last review before the final details and files are completed for manufacturing. By carefully reviewing all of the data gathered from the Moldflow analysis and CT scans, we remove assumptions and treat each mold as a fresh start to ensure success the first time.
Common Challenges in the Design Process
Mold manufacturing can present some unique challenges. Westminster Tool has created a thorough process to avoid these common challenges and uncover unseen issues that could affect our solution to save time and money for our customers.
One common issue we face is lack of information. When information is missing, new hurdles may arise that were not previously on the surface. This creates a situation where our design team has to be responsive to new challenges while still striving to make the mold perfect the first time. With our accountability measures in place, the Westminster Tool team is in constant communication internally and externally with our customers to stay on the same page, improving our ability to measure success.
Over tolerancing in a tool is another issue that can present itself in the design process. For both parties to be successful, there must be a relevant and achievable measure of success. Having a part with too many or unachievable tolerances can generate a need for additional steel safe dimensions or force a mold maker to groom until they hit a dimension perfectly. By using dimensional risk analysis, our team can identify potential challenges before they grow into more costly and time-consuming issues.
Westminster Tool’s Core Values in the Design Process
Our unique culture, represented by the Westminster Tool House, fosters personal growth and the desire to constantly improve. This plays a key role in all aspects of the company, including our design process. The House consists of the three pillars: continuous learning, continuous improvement, and accountability, and they all are built on a foundation of emotional intelligence. Our team uses this to effectively communicate with both our internal and external customers while abandoning assumptions and remaining curious about possible challenges that arise throughout the design process.
Our designers demonstrate continuous improvement by always seeking ways to improve manufacturability or tool design, even in a capacity and well-running mold. With every new design, they identify potential challenges and use them to continuously learn and develop better processes.
We take great pride in holding ourselves fully accountable from start to finish. Our designers follow their job from creation until the tool is shipped. By staying involved throughout the process, they see how their design goes from an idea to a finished product. This provides them with a deeper understanding of how to design a tool that not only meets a part print but is easily manufactured and repeatable.
These cornerstones of our company culture come together to provide our customers with value by providing a unique solution to manufacturing challenges versus only a high-quality piece of steel.
The Measures of Success – First Time, On-Time, On-Budget
Our design for manufacture process is necessary to effectively create customized tools that exceed the expectations of our customers. By holding each other accountable, removing assumptions and maintaining curiosity throughout our process, Westminster Tool delivers a solution for our customers the first time, on-time and on-budget.
Ultimately, our team is only as successful as our customers. We created our thorough design for manufacture process to maintain consistency in our offerings. If we work efficiently to deliver a great, cost-effective solution to our customers, the results breed success.