Producing better designs in reduced times

Furmanite Silk Engineering designs and manufactures special purpose, portable machine tools, many of them one-offs for individual customers. To help with this work, the company recently installed two seats of the SolidWorks solid modelling system, purchased from Bix Computer Applications. As a result, the company has been able to reshape its design process, and is now producing better designs in considerably less time.

This was amply demonstrated in a recent project to develop a new gearbox for driving the company’s specialist portable machine tools. By using SolidWorks, Furmanite’s designers were able to prepare three alternative design proposals in the time that it would previously have taken to produce only one. The project was the development of a drive gearbox. This was to drive a 6in diameter boring bar on which various pieces of tooling would be mounted to carry out machining operations. The traditional process would have involved the sketching of alternative schemes and then presenting a preferred option in the form of a set of layout drawings.

With SolidWorks, the team was able to take a new approach and model three alternative schemes in just six weeks. All three were fully modelled and presented as rendered CAD models, shown as assemblies, sub-assemblies and exploded assemblies. The final decision went to a double helical spur gear arrangement, and Heath Beresford was asked to complete the detailed design, incorporating a number of refinements.

Within two weeks, all of the design changes had been incorporated and approved. `To generate a full set of 19 working drawings took me just four days,’ says Beresford. `The majority of the components had to have changes incorporated but, because I had already constructed the SolidWorks model, finishing the drawings was extremely quick.’