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Design Engineering Solutions – Case Study 1

Posted on 01 July 2015 by Arthur Foxton Comments

Estimated Read time: 622 words 2 mins

  • The Solutions People

You're probably thinking: 'What do a bunch of Chemists know about Design Engineering?' Well... generally not much – but not all of us are Chemists; I myself studied Mechanical Engineering.

At Electrolube, what we do know about are problems and we understand that problems rarely stem from a single issue or discipline. It’s why we've developed a whole range of different Chemical Solutions throughout the years, instead of just sticking to Contact Lubricants which is where we started in 1941. What's the point of solving an issue in only one area, if we can solve others that may appear in other areas?

So... The question stands; how can we a Chemical Solutions Manufacturer help you to overcome Design Engineering obstacles?

We know the Solution might not be Chemical

One of the more challenging projects I've worked on was with a well-known company making communication devices. It displays how our experience and multi-angular approaches to problem solving surpasses that of our competitors.

This client wasn't making simple, cheap devices to be used in everyday life; they needed to build high-value, custom designed units to be used in a hazardous environment. As such, their units needed to be potted to protect the units from the stringent environmental conditions in which the unit would be placed. We knew this project was a race against time; they had approached a number of other Resin manufacturers with their project.

Due to the nature of the application and stringent testing regime, their required material properties were very specific... Therefore, gathering all the information I could about the project was critical – even the slightest oversight could turn into failure, due to the nature of the application; both the testing and the materials had to be faultless.

Finding the solution

After careful thought, I shortlisted a few of our possible Encapsulation Resins for the job. We began the initial testing, as did a competitor who was also vying for the contract, and the results weren't looking good for either of us. All units eventually failed after HALT testing (Highly Accelerated Life Testing).

We found we couldn't pinpoint a chemical problem, but noted some slight issues with the customer's unit design

I didn't let this phase me, and took it within my stride; experience with other projects has taught me that missing even the most miniscule detail of an application can have a dramatic effect on how a resin performs. Maybe I missed something?

Unlike most other technical sales professionals, I have a daily stream of communication with my technical department, and the multiple development chemists who make it up. I picked the brains of my colleagues, and after analysing the situation as a group, we found we couldn't pinpoint a chemical problem, but noted some slight issues with the customer's unit design. The position and spacing between the PCB and the unit meant that during their thermal shock testing, all the resins tested exhibited some form of adhesion loss.

By this point, our rivals who we were competing over the contract for had lost interest; they were stuck for ideas. I, however, returned to the client with a fresh perspective, and suggested a few simple design changes which solved the issue – and all of our resins then successfully passed their tests. The problem was rooted in the design of the PCB board all along!

Needless to say, we successfully won the contract to supply that day and were awarded the contract over our competitor. Our technical department's breadth of experience in problem-solving, along with expert knowledge in various fields and applications means we're well equipped to approach a problem from multiple angles.

I daresay our client would still be aimlessly looking for a chemical solution had we not stepped in to save the day!