When Cambridge Design Partnership started development on the ‘Satmap Active 10‘ sports navigation system, computer aided 3D modelling was key to their design strategy and their success. Supported by Innova Systems , a leading UK SOLIDWORKS supplier, Cambridge Design Partnership used SOLIDWORKS design tools as a powerful tool for communication between their engineers, clients, investors and retailers, ensuring that the product went to market at the right price and with all the right features. The Active 10 is now in production and enjoying success through retailers such as Blacks and Amazon.
Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP) is a 35 strong team of engineers. With a mix of electronic and mechanical engineers, and industrial designers, CDP undertake projects ranging from complex medical device development to DIY products.
Recognised as leaders in the field of product development, demand for CDP’s services is driving growth and they are currently expanding their work space and expect to take on further engineers. CDP has seven licenses of SOLIDWORKS software, which is an integral part of all of their mechanical engineering projects.
“With the Satmap Active 10, our client had a very clear idea of what they wanted the product to be and how it should function,” said Tom Oakley, Project Lead Mechanical Engineer. “We initially used SOLIDWORKS to create a solid model that demonstrated the size and feel of the intended design together with the layout of the controls. Being a hand held device, getting this right was essential. We were then able to present this model to the client.”
At every stage of the design, CDP were able to share their design ideas and communicate design changes with their client by using on-line conferencing facilities.
“There is no doubt that this was a challenging design,” said Tom. “It needed to be small and stylish, robust enough for outdoor sports usage and yet faster, more powerful and more effective than anything else in the market place. To achieve all this and to meet the agreed timescales and budgets, a lot of intense communication took place and SOLIDWORKS played a key role in enabling that level of design discussion.”
Satmap Enclosure Design
Two important demands of the Satmap enclosure design were that it was to be both watertight and shockproof. Both of these demands were met with the development of an enclosure that is made up of two materials. One material is a soft durable rubber compound and the other a hard plastic material. In addition to this, a lot of design work was undertaken to ensure that the final enclosure would be accurately and dependably assembled. SOLIDWORKS enabled the CDP engineers to implement and refine this complex design concept and create prototypes that could be field-tested. The CDP engineers also used Simulation, a product within the SOLIDWORKS suite of tools. Simulation is a virtual environment that enables engineers to validate and simulate the real world conditions of their SOLIDWORKS designs. It can simulate motion; undertake Finite Element Analysis and a host of other important analysis and validation processes.
“The development of prototypes and tooling for production is immensely expensive and time consuming,” said Tom. “Using SOLIDWORKS Simulation we were able to resolve bugs and refine the components within the virtual computer environment. This ensured that both prototype production and the final injection mould tooling were right first time. SOLIDWORKS also offers some powerful draft analysis technology to ensure that each component will be capable of being injection moulded without the risk of production issues. This was a very helpful feature for this particular project.”
Throughout the project, Cambridge based Innova Systems provided support and guidance on SOLIDWORKS issues. Innova is a leading UK reseller and training authority on 3D computer aided design. Innova have recently expanded their team to address the increasing demand for both SOLIDWORKS and their training and consultancy services.
“The team at CDP are very capable engineers and in many ways, they know our products almost as well as we do,” said Mark Bradford, Managing Director of Innova Systems. “So, when we get a call from CDP, we know it’s going to be challenging! There are times when an engineer needs to discuss how best to tackle a design issue or maybe needs additional software tools to resolve a new issue, so we make ourselves available to assist in whatever way we can.”
The Innova Systems support team makes active use of screen sharing technology that enables them to ‘take over’ a remote PC desktop with the client’s permission. This enables their support engineers to actively demonstrate a SOLIDWORKS feature or resolve a query on the customers’ own computer screen.
“This has massive benefits,” said Tom. “It is a much faster and more effective way for us to resolve the design issues that arise, rather than ‘the waving of hands that we can’t see’. We can see the changes on the screen whilst talking with the support engineer and this improves our understanding of SOLIDWORKS and how we should move forward. In fact, this is a technique we’ve now adopted for our own business. Also, an Innova engineer is always directly available and it’s always someone who is highly skilled in SOLIDWORKS and engineering. With important deadlines looming and forecasts and budgets to meet, this level of support is essential for us, so that we can deliver the level of service to which we are committed.”
One key benefit of SOLIDWORKS that is highlighted by the Active 10 project is that of its ability to help the mechanical designer address the requirements of a broad range of people and regulations that influence a final design. These included the client, investors, retailers, the electronics engineers, toolmakers, model-makers, the assemblers, testers and regulations such as WEEE, RoHS, CE and EMC.
“As much as SOLIDWORKS is a very powerful engineering design tool, for a company such as CDP, it is also a very powerful business tool,” said Tom. “The Active 10 is a great product and an amazing achievement, I don’t think we could have achieved this success without access to the SOLIDWORKS technology and Innova’s support.”