Manufacturing Design

Once a detailed design is completed, manufacturing can begin; sometimes, if one is sufficiently confident in the design process, some areas of manufacture can begin even before the full design is completed. However, a completed description of the final product is rarely enough to answer all questions concerning manufacture - sometimes the desired material properties will mandate a certain manufacturing process, which require specific geometric properties; sometimes special tooling is required, which itself must be designed. This leads to the idea of manufacturing design - this encompasses both tooling design and the adaptation of product design to facilitate manufacture. Ideally, the manufacturing processes to be used are familiar and well understood so that the detail designer has allowed for all aspects of manufacture and no further adaptation is required; then just tooling design is considered at this stage. In our UAV work, all manufacturing considerations are dealt with during detail design, with heavy emphasis on fully automated, numerically controlled manufacturing, so that only final assembly requires significant manual intervention, and no airframe-specific tooling is required. Because rapid prototyping systems have been central to our work, detailed knowledge of what such systems can, and cannot, do has impacted noticeably on the design process. The one exception to this focus on automated digital manufacture has been the UAV wiring looms, where such manufacture would be prohibitively expensive for the small production runs involved. Even so, full geometric detailing of the looms is carried out in the CAD environment so that, when manufactured, they fit the airframe correctly.

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