MADE Cymru celebrates technology & innovation for Tech Week 2020

This week sees Wales’ first ever Tech Week. Organised by Technology Connected, it takes place between 13th – 17th July. It aims to celebrate the technological achievements and innovation of the people and organisations within Wales. Now more than ever we can see the transformative power of technology as it impacts on how we work and live during these challenging times.

MADE Cymru is a suite of three projects delivered by University of Wales Trinity Saint David through its Centre for Advanced Batch Manufacture (CBM), tailor-made for Welsh manufacturers to plug into the exciting power of disruptive technologies, in order to boost productivity.

CBM specialises in utilising state of the art technology platforms for industry focused research, new product development and batch manufacturing. And it is precisely this expertise that contributes to the success of MADE Cymru’s Advanced Design Engineering project where our experts collaborate with manufacturers to create innovative solutions to process challenges.

To celebrate Tech Week, we thought we would look back at some of CBM’s exciting UK-wide case studies demonstrating how technology has been used to produce exceptional results.

Component optimisation to reduce assembly costs by more than 70%

CBM were asked to look at a small speaker assembly which was causing the client problems.

The existing design required a PCB and speaker to be bonded into a CNC machined body. Manufacturing costs were high; assembly took far longer than necessary and was messy. The solution had to be simple, clean and easily repeatable, and retaining sound quality was imperative as the speaker assembly sits inside a medical product and acts as an alarm.

The solution consisted of two injection moulded components, these were fully designed and tested in 3D CAD, control drawings were produced, prices gathered and a UK manufacturer selected. CBM worked directly with the client and manufacturer to take the components through to full production.

The final design was simple and quick to assemble. The PCB is inserted into the body along with an internal collar before the speaker is ‘bumped’ firmly in place, this removes the need for adhesives. The collar has dual functionality, to hold the PCB firmly in place, and sprung legs ensure there is no sound resonance.

Material selection and component geometry ensured audio quality was maintained.

The results were spectacular – costs of the plastic components reduced by 70%, assembly time reduced by 30%, reduced the need for glue (and drying time), wastage reduced to zero.

Boosting production of an air control valve for Seamap

Seamap, a company operating in the oil and gas sector, wanted to optimise the weight, lead times and production cost of their 24Kg, machined stainless steel high-pressure air control valve. Re-designing the unit to accommodate the requirements whilst maintaining the pressure capacity of the previous design pushed the boundaries of CBM’s technology platforms. Seismic source arrays are utilised by the oil and gas industry to survey the oceanic crust and create geological maps of the underling strata. This Is carried out with use of seismic guns, the air control valve is used to control the air supply to each individual gun so the pressures can be up to 40 Bar.

Collaborating with Seamap engineers, CBM developed a design that reduced the need for excess metal work by over moulding a bespoke poly urethane resin which bonded to and sealed the stainless steel core and withstood equivocal loading conditions. To ensure the air control valve module was adequately designed for operation, a finite element stress analysis was conducted. This was followed by a qualification test which included hydrostatic, thermal, shock, vibration and air pressure testing post manufacture to verify the predictions. The casting process gave unique benefits in manufacturing the ACV and the final result has since been subjected to, and passed, military specification verification. It reduced lead times by 75%, increased production considerably, reduced costs by 50% and decreased the mass of the unit by 33%.

Device to help Parkinson’s sufferers

Walk With Path, a London based company, approached CBM to help develop a device to aid the mobility of people suffering with freezing of gait (an inability to move the feet), a common symptom of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Walk With Path asked CBM to work with their industrial designer to develop their Path Finder product.

Path Finder is a laser light cueing device which attaches to a shoe, it projects a horizontal line on the ground in front of the user, at a set distance from the feet. This gives the wearer a visual cue to step across, and acts as an external stimulus to trigger walking. 

A first off prototype had already been made which proved the principle and CBM were asked to help develop this in to a commercial product. Working closely with the Walk With Path team and potential users, the usability was defined and refined to ensure the final design was fit for purpose. CBM detailed each component in 3DCAD before manufacturing three sets of working prototypes which were used for extensive user testing. Feedback from the user trials allowed the design to be refined before a full set of 2D control drawings were produced for manufacture.

Walk With Path have since launched the Path Finder, an innovative, affordable product to help Parkinson’s disease sufferers overcome walking difficulties.

These case studies are just a small selection demonstrating the power of harnessing new technology to economise and improve production. We’d love to chat to you about how MADE Cymru can work with your organisation – contact us on 01792 481199 or email [email protected] to arrange an informal chat with one of our team.

Please note that MADE Cymru is part/fully funded by the European Social Fund/European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.