28 February 2014, by Alan
Scooter and battery-powered ride-on toy maker Razor reduced part design time with synchronous technology from one week to two days and makes design changes in seconds vs. hours when compared to traditional history-based modeling.
In only eight years, Razor USA LLC has grown from an upstart company with a single product (the original Razor® kick scooter) to an established earner with lineup of more than 30 human and electric-powered toys. The company’s successful diversification can be seen in its revenues. Sales in 2001 were $20 million; sales in 2007 were $200 million. “The struggle for our company in the early years was to capitalize on the popularity of the original scooter while expanding the product line so there was less reliance on a single item,” explains Bob Hadley, the company’s product development manager. “We accomplished that, but our challenge now is to continually upgrade the product line with more items to maintain growth.”
Bringing a new product to market at Razor is a process of considering as many as 100 ideas each year, then narrowing that list down to 15 to 20 to develop more fully. Of those, one, two or possibly three might actually make it to market. “In our industry it’s important to be able to vet out design ideas as quickly as possible,” Hadley says. Today the company has even more advanced technology for doing that – Solid Edge® software with synchronous technology.
Razor is not new to Solid Edge, having migrated from 2D AutoCAD® to Solid Edge in the early 2000s. This was driven by the need for better communication with manufacturers in China. The superior visualization made possible by 3D assembly models, and the fact that the Chinese companies could work directly from Solid Edge geometry, alleviated the errors caused previously by miscommunication. The move to Solid Edge also helped Razor evolve from a one-product phenomenon to the extensive product line it has today.
“By allowing us to do upfront development about 50 percent faster compared to 2D, Solid Edge got us to where we could make faster decisions about which concepts to bring to market,” Hadley says. “With Solid Edge, we were able to introduce at least two or three times as many as new products each year as we could previously.”
When Solid Edge with synchronous technology became available, Razor was one of the first companies to adopt it. “I loaded Solid Edge with synchronous technology and after a few hours of training I was modeling parts,” says Hadley. “If you’re used to 3D, synchronous technology is a different way of thinking at first but once you get used to it, you’re off and running.”
One of the first things Hadley modeled was a complicated structural plastic part for the Razor Powerwing™, a caster-driven scooter that people propel by shifting their weight from side to side. The original part was a welded steel assembly; Hadley was converting it to an injection molded plastic part to lower the cost and improve manufacturability. “A part like this with deep rib sections and multiple drafted faces typically takes at least a week using conventional solid modeling methods. With a traditional 2D CAD package, it would take a month if you could even do it. But I was able to model it in just two days using Solid Edge with synchronous technology.”
Another advantage of Solid Edge with synchronous technology came later, when Hadley was working with a mold maker to fine-tune the part’s rib structure. He estimates that they went back and forth at least 10 times. Because he had originally modeled the part using synchronous technology, what previously would have been very time-consuming changes were done almost effortlessly. “With structural molded designs, you frequently need to reposition and reestablish your web intersections,” he explains. “With traditional solid modeling, you erase everything and start over, and it can take two to three hours to reposition a rib structure. With synchronous technology you just grab the faces you want and drag them into position and they go there. You can reposition any number of faces or features in about five seconds.
“With synchronous technology, each feature is not dependent on when it was created or where in the model it was created,” Hadley continues. “This will come into play for us on just about every model since changes are the natural order of things.” Overall, Hadley estimates that synchronous technology speeds the design process by a factor of two or three compared to traditional solid modeling.
In addition, he has noticed another, unanticipated benefit of Solid Edge with synchronous technology. It has converted the remaining 2D AutoCAD user at Razor to 3D. “Since there are no complex history rules or modeling strategies to learn, he picked it up very easily,” Hadley notes. “In just a few weeks he’s already cranking out designs left and right. He’s just incredibly excited about finally joining the 3D club!
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