Re:engineering - Application of engineering principals across projects

A lot of the projects Artifex RDE takes on seem very different from each other; it can range from pet to medical to fashion to art - to anything really. Even though all of these don’t seem like they connect with each other in terms of mechanical design and product development, they do.  How else would the company constantly be able to execute a product beautifully without connecting the dots?


When I first started working here, I was worried if I had enough engineering design skills to apply to each project. I forgot the basics I learned in school would be the basis of all my work today. There are several projects happening now: a sprayer for the Lunatec Bottles, joint design for RealDoll, and housing for the Abstat Gateway just to name a few.  These fall into hiking and outdoor, doll, and medical industry respectively. To start off on any of these projects, It’s important to remember each product is going to go through the same lifecycle:

initial, development, testing, production and end of life.  

Each project spends a different amount of time in each part of the lifecycle, but these are the general steps. Not every product makes it through each step, but when it does, it has the potential to be golden.

Who couldn’t use some more gold, right?

In each of these projects, mechanical engineering concepts overlap, even though they seem very different. For example, stress testing was done on the collar snaps for RealDoll and the bezel for the Abstat Gateway. The collar’s purpose is to hold two joints in one direction but allow it to move in another direction.  The purpose of the bezel is to hold the LCD screen in place and be able to snap onto the case.  Each had different purposes but I was able to use beam analysis to execute the different goals. Just look at the similarities in geometry below.

RealDoll Collar:

Close up of the snap design:

Collar in Assembly:

Abstat Gateway Bezel: The bezel is shown in black

Bezel installed into front case:

Section view of front case and bezel:

Close up of snap design:

You can see the similarities, right?

So what I learned is to not forget how basic engineering principles overlap one another. New products initially seem difficult to design, but broken down, it is all learned engineering principles applied to different parameters.


Re:engineering - What does it mean to be a part of a full service Engineering Services company?

For me, it means to apply my creativity in practical ways. Whether it’s talking to a client, vendor, or working as a team, I come into work to learn something new.  Like this week I had to design a test fixture for the Abstat sensors. The fixture is a simple box that can hold electronic components and holds the sensor being tested in place.  Sounds simple right? I mean, it’s “just a box”....

Here’s the current design of the test fixture:

And here’s the Abstat sensor:

Currently, all the wires are exposed and the circuit boards are open to dust. The blue box is meant for the Abstat sensor to sit and be tested on but there are only unreliable flanges to hold it down.  My job for the next few days is to design a test fixture that is cost effective, reliable and efficient while staying in the given constraints. The goal of the new design is to protect the electronic components and hold one sensor in place so it can be tested in a manufacturing setting.

One thing to take into account is the material - it can dictate the number of features of the design. For example, for a material such as plastic, more ribs are added to stiffen the box; however, for metal, it would not need these features because it is already strong enough. A plastic box can easily be designed on SolidWorks with a lot of complex features and easily be 3D printed whereas a metal box is much stronger but will most likely take a long time to machine the same features. There is also the possibility of making the fixture out of acrylic which is more cheap than metal and 3D printing. It generally has the same design/feature constraints as metal but can be more cost effective if the box does not have to be really strong.

There are too many decisions to make and too many tradeoffs.

But wait.

There is another solution: why make the entire fixture one material when I can combine the two materials? I designed the small part of the box with many features to be 3D printed; these are the features that cannot be easily machined. For the rest of the box that has simple holes for screws, I could make out of acrylic because it is more cheap.  Choosing materials is only one part of the design process, now it’s time to CAD.

-Brenda Pham, Staff ME


Welcome Brenda Pham, Staff Mechanical Engineer!

Artifex RDE would like to welcome Brenda Pham to the team as a Mechanical Engineer (several months late but we're still excited she joined)!  She's going to be writing about her experiences here but here's a bit about her has she sees herself.

Brenda Pham, Staff Mechanical Engineer

Brenda Pham, Staff Mechanical Engineer

Hi! My name is Brenda and I am a mechanical engineer at Artifex RDE! If i’m not designing something at work, i’m probably eating. If i’m designing at work, i’m probably thinking about eating. Follow me on my journey of excitement, confusion, and learning about being an awesome engineer.