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«RECHARGE ELECTRONICS AND HIGH-TECH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT WITH SOLIDWORKS SOFTWARE Overview The increasingly rapid pace of technology development—with ...»

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The increasingly rapid pace of technology development—with an abundance of electronic products and new technologies

hitting the global market at an unprecedented rate—creates many challenges for manufacturers. To succeed in this competitive environment, developing innovative products more quickly, more cost-effectively, and at higher levels of quality has become more important than ever. With integrated SolidWorks® software solutions, you can refine, consolidate, and improve your development processes—and deliver new technology applications and innovative electronic products faster than the competition.

The challenges of hi-tech and electronic product design High technology development—and its application in the steady volume of electronic products introduced over the past few decades—has resulted in increased customer expectations and greater market complexity. Unlike the early days when novelty alone drove consumer demand for computers, mobile phones, gaming consoles, global positioning systems (GPS), and other electronic gadgets, today’s competitive landscape demands innovation, reliability, and efficiency in product development. As technology rapidly evolves, the global playing field is becoming populated with talented competitors who are working hard to create products that could potentially disrupt your business.

To succeed, technology developers and manufacturers of electronic products must address the challenges of a very dynamic market that demands faster time- to-market, greater innovation, and higher quality. Achieving these goals requires integrated tools at each stage of the development process—from electronic and mechanical design to prototyping and testing, to manufacturing and assembly— and an effective strategy for managing development data at each step. Integrated solutions can facilitate the collaboration that is necessary to foster innovation, boost productivity, and reduce development costs.

Today’s hi-tech designs are increasingly complex and require denser packaging, more sophisticated cooling systems, and more reliable functionality. They must also look “cool”—adding the need for creative styling and packaging aesthetics to the mix—and must address the growing requirements for recyclable components, such as the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which restricts the use of certain hazardous materials in electronics and electrical designs. Overcoming these challenges requires access to a range of robust design, simulation, and data management capabilities as part of a single, integrated development environment.

ECAD/MCAD integration generates benefits What came first: the printed circuit board (PCB) or its housing? With some electronic product designs, electrical engineers design the PCB. Their mechanical counterparts then develop the packaging that surrounds and contains the board.

However, at other times, industrial designers first create a stylistic housing for aesthetic reasons. This and other mechanical considerations, such as connectors and switches, take priority over the PCB design.

In either case, the historical lack of collaboration among electrical engineers, who design the PCB board; mechanical engineers, who design the housing; and industrial designers, who create the overall look of the product, represents the weakest link in the process. Lack of communication can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and design errors, resulting in costly delays. Fortunately, powerful tools are now available that facilitate ECAD/MCAD integration and encourage collaboration between mechanical and electrical engineers.

By collaborating more closely and sharing compatible design data between electrical and mechanical design systems, engineers can improve the quality of designs, reduce costs, and accelerate time-to-market. ECAD/MCAD integration—especially when PCB models are fully associative—helps engineers to quickly pinpoint potential collisions between PCB and enclosure designs. It also enables them to strategically position key electrical components for optimal performance, and effectively merge the electrical, mechanical, and industrial design aspects of hi-tech products.

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InFocus uses CircuitWorks™ software to facilitate collaboration between mechanical engineers—who use SolidWorks software to develop the product housing, mechanical components, and electrical footprint—and electrical engineers, who develop printed circuit boards. Using CircuitWorks to integrate populated circuit boards into SolidWorks software models is helping InFocus develop smaller, lighter projectors faster and more cost-effectively.

As a result the manufacturer has reduced its design software costs by 70 percent and its hardware costs by 75 percent.

Assess cooling and sustainability requirements Effective cooling of heat-generating electronic components is a key requirement for effective hi-tech products. As the size and shape of electronic enclosures continue to decrease, the need to evaluate how well your cooling system performs becomes increasingly important. With less physical real estate with which to work, you need greater insight into how effectively your cooling system functions and how the positioning of heat sinks and other cooling features impacts your design.

The need to assess the thermal effects of using alternative materials for heat sinks and housing features—to meet emerging environmental requirements—can further complicate your appraisal of cooling system effectiveness.

While competitive pressures prohibit spending the time and incurring the costs required to create and test physical prototypes, integrated simulation capabilities can help you assess cooling system performance more quickly and more costeffectively.

With an integrated flow simulation tool, you can determine how well your cooling system design dissipates heat. By analyzing the rate of cooling in your design, you can optimize the size, number, and placement of cooling components, such as fans, vents, thermoelectric coolers, and heat sinks. You can then validate the impact of design modifications to determine whether they improve or degrade performance.

Other simulation tools can help you assess the environmental impact of hi-tech products throughout their life cycles. Understanding how the use of certain hazardous materials in electronic designs carries environmental ramifications—in terms of product recyclability or disposal—can help you to formulate a design philosophy and sustainability strategy that best positions your products. In addition to helping you meet regulatory requirements, sustainable design practices are becoming increasingly important from sales, marketing, and business standpoints.

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...a case in point ioSafe, Inc., leveraged SolidWorks design, simulation, and fluid-flow analysis software to solve the technical challenges associated with developing a disaster-proof external hard drive, which protects data from the damaging effects of fires, floods, and earthquakes.

A thin, metalized, heat-conductive yet waterproof barrier surrounds the hard drive, protecting it from water, while the heat created by the hard drive passes through the waterproof barrier and into a cavity within the enclosure, protecting the device through outward steam flow during a fire. Using SolidWorks Flow Simulation to optimize the balance of air flow for cooling and outward steam flow for fire protection saved ioSafe $15,000 in prototyping costs and cut time-to-market by 75 percent.

Automate routing of wires, cables, and distributed lines Once your PCB, housing, and cooling system designs are in place, it’s time to determine where all the wires go and address interconnections. While the routing of wires, cables, and other distributed systems—such as hoses, hydraulic lines, ducts, and pipes—is often treated as an afterthought, it is a critically important step in the design process. When it isn’t done right, it can negatively affect design performance.

Does your wiring, or the harnesses used to bundle it, have any clearance issues? Will the placement of wiring or other distributed lines compromise how well your cooling system works? Have you positioned your wiring in such a way as to provide for easy product assembly, maintenance, and repair? Answering questions like these requires the use of integrated design visualization and simulation tools.

With a 3D routing design tool, you can automate the path selection and positioning of wires, cables, and distributed lines within your design, as well as visualize how they will be accessed and serviced. You can then use an integrated flow simulation package to determine how wiring, tubing, or piping placement affects your cooling system. Using integrated design visualization and simulation tools not only enables you to ensure that wiring placement and routed system layouts have no negative effects on your design, but also helps you to save time by automating the process.

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...a case in point Terrafugia, Inc., has turned the flying car—or, more accurately, the drivable plane—into a reality. Established in 2006, the company developed the Transition® Roadable Aircraft, a personal airplane that converts into an automobile.

During development, Terrafugia engineers relied on SolidWorks software, including SolidWorks Routing, which automates the design of distributed systems. Instead of manually modeling every wire, cable, and hose in the vehicle, the company’s engineers used SolidWorks Routing to automatically route electrical wiring, brake lines, fuel lines, cooling hoses, and control cables, ensuring the design provided the necessary room for these systems as part of efforts to conserve material and reduce weight.

Ensure reliable performance in a dynamic environment As the trend toward miniaturization in electronic product design continues, the need to make sure that products function properly despite frequent exposure to vibration-inducing motion becomes even more crucial. Many portable electronic devices are susceptible to frequent drops, impacts, and movements. As these devices get smaller, new challenges in dynamics arise involving how to cushion impacts and dampen vibration caused by everyday use in a very tight space. The use of electronic components in other moving systems—such as automobiles and aircraft—also demands reliable performance in a dynamic environment.

To make sure that your design does not vibrate, resonate, or deflect in a way that deteriorates performance, you need access to the capabilities of integrated structural dynamics. By understanding the natural frequencies of your parts and assemblies, you will be able to modify your designs or select different materials in order to dampen vibration, avoid resonance, or minimize deflection in critical areas, thereby improving performance. You can use random vibration analysis in place of shake tests and perform simulated drop tests to assess the effects of impacts, saving time and money in the process.

Dynamics analysis is a key step for ensuring the reliable operation of your product.

This is particularly important in hi-tech designs when minimizing vibration is of the utmost importance, such as with sensitive instrumentation, or when you want to control vibration with a high degree of precision, such as with computer disk drives.

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Manage data and processes more efficiently The number of steps, iterations, and modifications related to the development of hi-tech and electronic products requires a solution for managing the diverse processes and various types of design data involved. How do you control revisions?

How do you manage ECAD, MCAD, and simulation data? How do you execute engineering change orders (ECOs)? Are your collaborative efforts well coordinated?

Are you making the most out of design reuse?

Having access to the right integrated tools provides efficiency and quality improvements. However, without an easy-to-use and -administer product data management (PDM) system, you may not realize potential productivity gains—and quality safeguards—to their fullest extent. By using an integrated PDM system, you can manage collaboration, control revisions, track validation data, refine workflows, and coordinate ECOs. In other words, an integrated PDM system provides the foundation for tying all of the individual steps together in a cohesive process.

PDM provides additional benefits outside of the design process. You can configure your PDM system to manage access to data and automate workflows related to quoting and purchasing, manufacturing and assembly, and documentation and quality control. While integrated tools are important, a PDM system allows you to maximize individual increases in efficiency, so you enhance your can productivity from concept development through market introduction.

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To address a greater volume of development activity and related engineering change orders (ECOs) more efficiently, the company implemented SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software. With this PDM solution, NEXX Systems was able to quickly work through its backlog of ECOs and accelerate development through tighter revision control and improved workflow automation. In addition to improving development throughput, the PDM system enables the company to drive design data throughout the enterprise and to support purchasing, manufacturing, and fieldservice functions.

Streamline hi-tech and electronic product design with SolidWorks software To succeed in today’s hi-tech and electronic product industries, manufacturers must bring more innovative and higher-quality products to market faster and more costeffectively than the competition. Organizations can achieve these goals and gain a competitive advantage by transitioning from individual silos of productivity to a more integrated and more collaborative approach to product development.

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