A new design process is being developed incorporating engineers designing in 3D on workstations, solid modeling, computerized design data bases and networks, finite element analysis, rapid prototyping, and rapid tooling, the critical issue for us is to get new product parts and assemblies as soon as possible and the cornerstone of our approach for molded parts is rapid prototyping for the initial parts and short run tooling.

The author discusses his experience over the last three years designing molded case circuit breakers with the new design process, including successes and failures of over 20 stereolithography parts and half a dozen spray metal molds. These processes alone have a significant effect on the design cycle time but the really big payoff comes when they are incorporated in an entirely new approach to mechanical design.

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