OPW partnered with Catalyst in the development of enclosures and components for the AVANCE next generation nozzle and fueling system supplied to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. OPW provided Catalyst with initial product design concepts for the enclosure along with size and mechanical requirements based on the product specifications.
Catalyst was the second product design firm to work on the project as OPW originally engaged another design consulting firm. However, the product design concepts provided, while aesthetically pleasing to look at, could not be manufactured in a realistic, cost-effective manner. Additionally, the product design concepts would not feasibly work with the internal components and castings of the fuel nozzle assembly. Unfortunately, the product design concepts had been approved and prototype renderings had been widely distributed in marketing collateral. The project challenge was to maintain as much of the original design intent as possible while engineering the enclosures to fit the existing nozzle components and to allow for cost-effective production, assembly, and serviceability.
Ensuring design scope is maintained
During most product development projects at Catalyst, the industrial design and mechanical engineering team members work closely together to ensure that critical items such as manufacturability and assembly details are considered early in the ideation and concept refinement phases. On the AVANCE project, the overall design aesthetic had been largely frozen prior to addressing design for manufacturability. Therefore, Catalyst had to work somewhat backward in the initial stages. To accomplish this, 3D models of all internal nozzle castings and components were created in addition to 3D models of surfaces based on the original, difficult-to-manufacture product design concepts. With this information in a virtual environment, Catalyst and OPW could review the areas that would require the most changes and the impacts to styling and proportion. Through this collaboration, a new holistic design direction was established that not only maintained most of the original design intent but ensured the enclosures would be robust and easy to manufacture, assemble, and service.
While maintaining the original design intent, the Catalyst Industrial Design team provided improved concepts that addressed Design for Manufacturability and improved ergonomics. Isometric sketches were provided that showed component breakouts and assembly methods of the components. Multiple renderings were provided that depicted various color and texture combinations as well as branding space for logo placement. The Mechanical Engineering team provided structural analysis, mechanical and manufacturing design. As the parametric 3D CAD database was created, the various components were optimized to ensure manufacturing costs were minimized during subsequent tooling and custom injection molding phases. The Catalyst team worked closely with OPW during the prototype development stages to test the fitment and user interfaces. Based on prototype review and feedback, engineering revisions were quickly implemented prior to final release.
Since the components would be in contact with petroleum products, prototype parts produced through SLA (stereolithography) or RTV (room temperature vulcanization) could not be used, especially for agency (UL, TÜV) approval. OPW partnered with Catalyst to provide plastic injection mold tooling for the components to be used for analysis and alpha/beta field testing. This also allowed for a number of materials and colors to be validated. Catalyst designed and produced tools using rapid tooling process.
Designing the product around reality
Through close collaboration between OPW and Catalyst, the AVANCE product development was completed on time and on budget. The Catalyst team was able to take a non-manufacturable product concept and develop solutions that not only maintained the original design aesthetic, but was cost effective to produce, assemble, and service. Additionally, the original intent was to utilize rapid injection mold tooling temporarily for test purposes. Due to delays with the high-volume production tool supplier, OPW was able to utilize the Catalyst rapid injection mold tools to produce plastic components and “bridge” their initial production requirements. For the first months of production, Catalyst supplied components to OPW’s European assembly operation which allowed the AVANCE product launch to stay on schedule.