True originality is not often a priority when creating a new product. Design engineers would rather borrow from existing designs. Think of the similarity in design elements and functionality in Apple products introduced over the past 15 years. The reasoning is simiple: resuing design speeds time-to-market, reduces validation efforts, and sustains the overall look and feel of the brand.
“If you’re in a regulated industry like aerospace, creating a new part can cost tens of thousands of dollars,” Kurt Lundstedt, product portfolio manager at Dassault Systèmes, told Design News . “If you can identify duplicate or re-used information, it reduces the costs and gives you more buying power.”
Mining previous designs lets the design engineer aggregate parts purchasing. Specifying a part that is already used in a number of other products can drive down costs significantly. “When a new product comes to market, the cost of a component might be five times what it would be in volume,” Steve Chalgren, EVP and chief strategy officer at Arena Solutions, told Design News . “Getting the cost down can be a matter of finding the volume for cost reduction. That can drop the price of a product from $500 to $100.”
Parts and Assemblies Are Pre-validated
Martin Neumüller, director of product management at PTC, said that design engineers have to ask questions such as: Is there a part that can be duplicated? Can some mechanical or requirement aspects of a part be reused? Can some of the electronics or some of the software be reused?
“You can use PLM or CAD tools to leverage existing designs that may have a highly complex surface with complex mathematics,” Neumüller said. “You can reuse the geometric as well as the IP of existing designs.”
Reusing existing parts or assemblies reduces the time involved in validation, whether it’s identifying conflict materials or putting the part through quality trials. “There’s the whole time and cost savings that come from reuse, but also the ability to reuse proven concepts,” Dennis George, marketing manager at Siemens PLM, said. “There’s the whole process of running this design through quality assurance. If you’ve had the existing part on the road for a couple years and it works, and if you have no warrantee issues with it, then you don’t have to re-verify it.”
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