June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.149.1 - 24.149.9
An activity in design for manufacturability – concept generation through volume production in less than three hoursDesign for manufacturability (DFM) is the practice of engineering products such that they aremore easily produced in volume. DFM is traditionally taught by lecture and students aresubsequently encouraged to utilize the underlying concepts in their engineering design coursesand capstone project. One of the problems with this approach is that the design is rarely taken tovolume production, giving students little chance to see firsthand the benefits of employing DFMin their work. To address this, we have developed an in-class activity which allows studentteams to design a widget and take it to volume production all within the span of a single three-hour laboratory period. We present the implementation of this activity in our optical engineeringand engineering physics capstone design course; sample activity materials will also be providedand discussed.Students are tasked with designing a widget capable of holding a heavy weight at a minimumheight off a table. Specifications are provided on the maximum widget size and allowablematerials which can be used. The activity is organized as a competition with a goal ofmaximizing profit – revenue earned per widget less the cost per widget (material costs,development costs, labor, and cost of poor quality). Students are allowed to choose their teamsize (there are advantages and disadvantages to both small and large teams) and given 1.5 hoursto design and prototype. During this phase the groups must also track their development costs(materials) and develop a production plan which ultimately results in a commitment to deliver aspecific quantity of widgets. Following the product development phase, all prototypes andleftover materials are scrapped. The activity then moves to the production phase where teamsare given exactly 10 minutes to manufacture the widgets and fulfill their commitment.Acceptance testing is performed on a sample of widgets produced by the team. Severe financialpenalties are levied if widgets fail testing or if the team fails to deliver a sufficient quantity. Theteams calculate their profitability, and the winning team is announced. Following the activity,the students are assigned homework where they must reflect upon the choices made in the designprocess and what they could have done to improve their outcome relative to the winning team.We have found this activity to be highly reusable; for example, by simply adjusting thedesignated costs or earning per widget, a previous winning design can be rendered ineffectivegiven the new constraints. Further, this activity is a pedagogical approach that is not discipline-specific; we expect that it is well suited for students in all engineering fields. Sinceimplementation three years ago, our students working on their capstone projects havedemonstrated increased awareness of the importance of DFM as evidenced by the use of simplersolutions to the challenges they face in design.
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