Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shakespearian Design

Perhaps if Shakespeare were a designer or an engineer, the famous words wouldn't have been "To be or not to be" but "To scale or not to scale". I ask this because when it comes to automotive prototype development, it seems that the common method of milling a design for the first verification run is to mill full scale foam or clay with the the secondary method (often when time and cost are a factor) involving milling a scale model, usually 1/4 scale.

Courtesy: patf.net

Since we are in the phase of developing not only our first prototype, but devising an innovative method of developing such prototypes, we had a lengthy discussion today on following the first inclination of milling at full scale, the secondary method of 1/4 scale, a combination of both, and even milling to a different scale before milling our final full scale model, from which the first tool will be made.

As Jay stated near the end of this conversation, it would be great to have a Wikipedia entry on the matter that we could simply look up and base a decision on, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't exist, so we can either follow the current industry standard to the letter, make a total departure from it, or develop a hybrid method. Once again, these are the types of discussions we have daily here at LM, which I don't think current manufacturers have anymore and although it can be very difficult to come to a common and correct conclusion at times, the discussions are both necessary and invigorating. Maybe the path we blaze will have some wrong turns in it, but as long as we learn from such wrong turns for our next vehicle, our success won't falter, but we'll be in a better position for future builds having the best route mapped out.

This reminds me of another famous line: "You have to lose to know how to win." In other words, in terms of our process, we may do more work or go to an expense more than is necessary, but as long as we recognize this early, and we are willing to experiment and stay flexible we can make the necessary adjustments to our process to become more time and capital efficient the next time we begin development.

Once we combine our learnings from doing things the way that work best and the ways that don't work so well we'll have to write our own Wikipedia entry on the matter.

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