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An Activity in Design for Manufacturability – Concept Generation Through Volume Production in Less Than Three Hours

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Design Realization

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.149.1 - 24.149.9



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Paper Authors


Paul O. Leisher Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Paul O. Leisher is an associate professor of physics and optical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Rose-Hulman in 2011, Dr. Leisher served as the manager of advanced technology at nLight Corporation in Vancouver, Washington, where he worked for over four years. He received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Bradley University (Peoria, Ill.) in 2002 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Dr. Leisher’s research interests include the design, fabrication, characterization, and analysis of high power semiconductor lasers and other photonic devices. He has authored more than 160 technical journal articles and conference presentations. Dr. Leisher is a member of SPIE and the IEEE Photonics Society.

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Scott Kirkpatrick Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Scott Kirkpatrick is an assistant professor of physics and optical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He teaches physics, semiconductor processes, and micro-electrical and mechanical systems (MEMS). His research interests include heat engines, magnetron sputtering, and nanomaterial self assembly. His master's thesis work at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln focused on reactive sputtering process control. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln investigated high power impulse magnetron sputtering.

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Richard W. Liptak Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Sergio Granieri Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Robert M. Bunch Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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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.

Leisher, P. O., & Kirkpatrick, S., & Liptak, R. W., & Granieri, S., & Bunch, R. M. (2014, June), An Activity in Design for Manufacturability – Concept Generation Through Volume Production in Less Than Three Hours Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20040

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