Here at Dayton T. Brown, Inc (DTB), when designing a new product, our common strategy is to design, test, evaluate and then modify a design, based on the analysis of a prototype. DTB is a 300,000 sq ft engineering and test facility that can perform all phases of product development, effectively and efficiently.
Prototyping is often a part of our design process that allows our engineers to explore different design alternatives to either solve problems for existing designs or to create new products. In some cases, a series of prototypes will be designed, constructed and tested. This in turn refines the design before it is put into production.
Because DTB is an engineering and test facility, it provides us with a great advantage when it comes to research and development, prototyping and product design.
The outcome of testing a wide variety of products gives us insight to what kinds of components work in all kinds of conditions and in all types of environments. This gained knowledge, is then applied and incorporated into the development of the prototypes that DTB is involved with. This in turn has historically provided DTB and its customers with prototypes that are more successful in a shorter amount of time, while automatically incurring less cost in the developmental phase.
The following is a typical set of steps on how DTB goes through the prototype process.
- For a particular industry sector, a market study is performed to evaluate a problem or need for a certain product or a customer would submit a set of design requirements for a product they need to be produced
- Alternate solutions are developed that meets the requirements to solve a particular problem or need of a product.
- A down selection is made of the alternate solutions for the best fit approach.
- A virtual electronic model is developed through the aid of computer software programs that applies to the type of engineering application at hand.
- In the areas of structural/mechanical applications, a few computer software programs that might be used would be 3D cad design systems, such as Catia, Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks and Ansys.
- For electronic applications, AutoCAD Electrical computer software might be used or in fluid flow and thermodynamics applications it could be CF design software
- Once a virtual electronic model has been developed, a rapid prototype would be produced by using solid freeform techniques such as Stereo Lithography or Fusion Deposition Modeling. Through the use of these processes, a rapid prototype model can be made from many different types of materials, depending on its application. The material chosen could be what the final product would be made from.
- After a full review of the rapid prototype, a full scale prototype would be fabricated and now be evaluated for its form, fit and function in the application used. During this evaluation phase of the project, the prototype would go through some preliminary testing which would be used to uncover flaws or imperfections and may be revised and/or modified to improve on its overall performance in achieving its design expectations
- Once the prototype has been optimized, the final drawings are revised and a first set of articles are fabricated. Depending on the new product being designed, castings, molds, assembly fixtures and tooling might be required in order to fabricate the first set of production articles. These first articles would then go through its required testing in order to meet the specifications for those particular industries standards
The following are a few of examples of products which were developed at DTB.
EA-6B Exhaust Tail Pipe Assembly
An assembly which is attached to the twin jet engines on the EA-6B aircraft that guides the flow of engine exhaust to the rear of the aircraft. The next illustrations show the 3D solid model of the tail pipe assembly and the prototypes that were fabricated.
T-45 Aircraft Boarding Ladder
An assembly which is temporarily mounted to the side of a T-45 aircraft so that the pilot and co-pilot can climb into the cockpit. The ladder is made up of an ultra-light weight all aluminum welded construction with a corrosion resistant coating and rubber pads that provide a protective interface with the aircraft. The next illustrations show the 3D solid model of the T-45 Aircraft Boarding Ladder and the prototype that was fabricated.
Fuel Cell Container
A container to store and transport military fighter aircraft fuel cells. The fuel cells were basically rubber bladders that could not stand up under their own weight. Therefore, these containers were required to suspend or hang the fuel cells so that they would not collapse or fold down on themselves. The next illustrations show the 3D solid model of a prototype sample of a fuel cell container assembly and the first article that was fabricated.
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