Research and development

CASE
STUDY

Source Advisors

METAL FABRICATION

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PROCESS DEVELOPMENT
  • MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
  • TOOLING
  • OVER $130,000 IN TOTAL ANNUAL
    NET BENEFIT

With over 40 years of experience in metal fabrication, this company continues to develop metal fatigue and failure mitigation techniques, serving the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, chemical, defense, energy, fitness, nuclear, oil & gas and rail industries.

R&D QUALIFICATION

While the company sometimes participated in product design, the majority of their R&D surrounded the development of manufacturing processes. Research efforts at this company fell within 3 different categories: stamping, molding, and tooling.

Process design entailed extensive research and development beginning with the examination of the component specifications followed by evaluating the various metal fabrication methods. The team included engineering, technicians, prototype assemblers, testers and quality assurance. They addressed form, fit, material, and performance issues. Calculations and computer models were evaluated and modified. Issues with configuration, material composition, and manufacturability were also addressed. The company developed four to five different prototypes for testing and analysis. Changes were made to the tooling, fabrication process and product design based on information discovered during the prototype construction stage. For example, prototypes were developed to evaluate various configurations of components and their resistance to environmental conditions such as vibration or heat. Multiple prototypes or samples were constructed and tested to evaluate alternative designs and process applications.

The prototyping process was a collaborative effort between the engineering group and the prototype assemblers. Prototype assemblers were responsible for creating and assembling prototypes based on the design requirements. The primary materials used during the prototyping process include various metals, circuit boards, PC boards, transistors, circuits, wiring,and plastics.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PROCESS DEVELOPMENT
  • MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
  • TOOLING
  • OVER $130,000 IN TOTAL ANNUAL
    NET BENEFIT

The cost of these materials was a qualified R&D expense.

Next, the prototype designs were tested and validated against the intended product specifications. Design tests failed, which required the design to be further refined at either the component or prototype level. This testing process was a continual cycle between design and evaluation until the test requirements were met through design and process improvements. Prototypes were subjected to environmental testing, which normally included vibration and temperature tests. In addition, acceptance testing was performed once all other tests are passed.

To get to full production, the team developed custom fixtures, die casts, and tooling. These were also needed to produce prototypes and samples. The creation of a repeatable testing and quality control process that could scale with production loads was also designed. The final stage was the production part approval process (PPAP) prior to start of production.

RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

This company realizes annual federal and state R&D tax credit benefits of over $130,000.