While Mechanical design engineers are always focused on form, fit, and function, there are typically overlooked physical aspects to take into account. These include aesthetics and the evolution of the product use environment.
Not just consumer products, but industrial, telecom, computer and many other product segments all can have aesthetic requirements placed on them. That brings many more possible resin choices into play and the mechanical designers need to include those dynamics when devising product requirement specifications. Determining the environmental and physical stresses that will be placed on your product through the ENTIRE product lifecycle is critical to helping determine what plastic or composite is right for your application. The ENTIRE product life cycle includes not just use, but the shipping and handling once it has left your facility AND with some of the new EU directives, the end-of-life exposure it will see.
The other thing to consider is the length of the product life cycle. Selection of materials and criteria need to anticipate future use and demands. Resins and composites have their own product life cycles, when doing initial testing, qualifying an alternate material goes a long way to insuring a material supply. Secondly, use environment can and will change. When presented with a fishing lure that had broken during use, it was determined that the material/part had not changed, but fishing lines have increased in strength dramatically almost approximating fine cable and were able to impart much higher stresses than when the lure was originally designed.
As the designer and marketer, you know best what your product will see and can work to document those requirements. Once you have a complete list, include your molder (and mold designer if it is a separate organization) in reviewing that list and engage their help in selecting the right plastic or composite to meet those requirements. The more knowledgeable your molder is on the materials side, the better opportunities for selection you will have. We here at PlastiCert, have staff that are products of the Composites Engineering program at nearby Winona State University, the only 4-year program in the USA that devotes itself to the material science of composites and focusing on how that affects the products in the marketplace.
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