Extruse Me

Manufacturing Processes: Extrusion


This term we will be spending a good section of our time looking into Manufacturing Processes, with Paul Wilgeroth.  Why, you ask, do we need to learn this is we have no intention of making the products we design?  So we can become better designers, stupid.  If we are aware at the outset of what is involved in manufacturing a product, the limitations of certain techniques, or the cost involved, or if we desire a certain finish then we can design appropriately.


Week one is extrusion.  Metal specifically.


Paul showed us various techniques, from the most basic to the mass manufacturing methods for extruding metal forms.  He showed different ways of joining metal components, advantages, disadvantages and design tricks used to cover construction methods.  


Although a very dry topic, it was very interesting to see how very simple, single piece extrusions can be joined together to form one product.


To ensure we absorbed the information, Paul asked us to design a picture frame that could be made using extruding techniques, along with any appropriate methods of joining the components together.  The frame needed to fit an A5 photograph, could be hung on the wall or stand up on a flat surface.


Something that Paul did mention was that every component costs money to make and every post extrusion process requires time, and hence money, to complete.  To me, this translates as:


Here is my design:


I really wanted to challenge myself by satisfying the brief with only one component.  One extrusion.  This design uses a simple enclosed ‘C’ shape at the top to allow a screwhead to fit inside it and hang on the wall.  The two flex parts on the front hold the photo in place, (no glass), and the stand on the back uses the natural spring of the metal to either spring out, or clip into its resting place at the bottom of the frame.




I found this brief tricky, not for the design – I found this very satisfying – but the CAD side of things.  Last year, I used Solidworks and was happy with my skills with this package.  I could make some complicated designs, but did feel as though the user interface was very tricky and had some issues when changing parts of components made at an earlier stage.  Paul recommended Solidedge or Inventor, stating they are easier to use.  A lot of the rest of the class use Autodesk Fusion, saying it is very easy to use and quick to make something quickly.


I found Solidedge tricky to navigate after Solidworks, struggling to rotate the image and really struggled to render the image in place.  Returning to Solidworks, it then felt really awkward to use and felt foreign to me.  Have I ruined my knowledge of Solidworks by trying something new?  Possibly.  I tried to load inventor, but it wouldn’t load, so that is out…for now.  As for the fabled Fusion.  Yes, it is very easy to make something organically shaped quickly, and the interface seems very friendly.  Paul said that it is underpowered and so will have limitations with complicated designs and doesn’t have a construction page facility.  I think they have now added this and feel that this type of programme may be the future of CAD.  It’s designed specifically for collaborative working, allowing people to work on the same design, from all over the world.


I now am really unsure which to choose.  Solidworks is the industry standard, but awkward to use.  Solidedge is easier to use I think, it is free, but the interface is new to me.  Fusion, is underpowered, is free, but maybe the future?  Ahhhhgggggg



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