Have you hesitated to walk into an office building because you couldn’t tell if you were supposed to push or pull the handle to open the door? Or maybe you didn’t want to grab that modern door handle with the sharp edges, for fear of what might happen to your hand? These unfortunate examples are likely the result of an OEM designer seeking a crisp, contemporary look, who didn’t have the metal forming expertise and engineering capability to accurately visualize the final product functionality.
Partnering with a full-service, handles manufacturer with engineers on staff can prevent design mishaps before they sink the ROI of a metal forming project. It requires a collaborative approach to implement quality control measures at every phase of the design process, and these design best practices can significantly impact overall project costs, lead times, and quality.
Successful Metal Handle Design Starts on Day One
To start the handle design process on the right foot, your manufacturing partner should first schedule an initial engineering and QC consultation to ensure your design will function properly in the real world. The engineer should be able to look at the design process from every angle to determine if a team will be needed to assess handle function responsibilities and to define technical specifications per your expectations.
Setting the Stage for Value-Added Metal Handle Design
Once engineering has assigned teams for each handle design responsibility (function, technical, output), QC checkpoints are assigned to each team. These checkpoints may include:
- Handle purpose and/or application
- Design complexity that could hinder product application
- Level of technology required to implement design
- Degrees of design standardization
- Similarities to existing designs
- Customer’s overall implementation vision
At this point, the handle design stage is set for organizational and technical interfaces to be created, documented, distributed, and reviewed by each assigned team.
Collaboration to Ensure Metal Handle Designs Meet Industry Standards
Your partner should be ready and willing to work with your administrative, quality control, and/or marketing teams to help you meet your industry’s standards and requirements for the handle design.
This collaboration should start early in the design process, and may involve:
- Initial requirements assessment, such as the impact on form, fit, function, performance, and/or durability
- Industry-specific statutory and/or regulatory requirements (including ISO 9001 and other safety considerations)
- Troubleshooting specifications for any remaining incomplete or conflicting design requirements
When implemented early in design process, this collaboration provides the customer and the handles manufacturer a chance to identify ROI opportunities, such as ways to reduce the handle’s weight, manufacturing costs, and time to market.
Metal Engineering — Let the Drawing Begin
After your teams have provided the necessary input, the pieces are in place for engineering to create drawings or specifications to support the design vision. At this stage in the process, engineering is responsible for:
- Testing and building model prototypes
- Applying spec-required modifications, such as part number assignments
- Entering and monitoring stock masters, BOMs, and manufacturing routing information related to the design
Next, all teams then review the newly-modified designs and document the methodology behind each adaptation. These reviews may involve the manufacturer’s technical personnel and any other specialists involved in the design process.
Verifying and Validating Metal Handle Design Quality
To ensure the final handle design is ready for production, your partner should schedule final design reviews with all appropriate personnel. These reviews should include:
- Testing to ensure customer qualifications are met or exceeded
- Comparing proven, similar designs
- Applying alternative calculations as needed
- Verifying that the partner’s final specs meet all customer specs
- Confirming tolerances to industry standards
Assembling the Final Design Pieces to Deliver Handle ROI
At last, the handle design process has reached the final review stage. Your metal forming partner’s teams should meet with your personnel to verify the final product meets all the requirements to begin production. This review should be signed off by all manufacturing, engineering, administrative, marketing, materials, and quality assurance teams.
Only after these final verifications are in place can you and your handles manufacturing partner move forward with a design that meets cost and performance expectations. Production does not begin until all design changes are reviewed, verified, and validated for ROI deliverables.
The Right Manufacturing Partner Can Predict Handle Design Flaws
At Mills Products, we identify potential flaws early in the handle design process using our proven Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Our metal fabrication team uses the FEA and customer collaboration to create innovative handle prototypes and tooling to optimize design parameters, simulate tube expansion severity, predict material thinning, and then determine the failure-success rates prior to manufacturing.
The FEA is just one way Mills engages our customers from initial design through the final verification. Our proven, collaborative approach and quality control best practices deliver ROI-driven, consistent, quality output — regardless of product complexity. Every day we test and improve our FEA and design QC process to help our customers create and improve existing handles that are stronger, lighter, and more economical.
Contact us today to learn how we can design, produce, machine, and assemble metal handles under one roof to cut costs and improve part consistency.