Improving material flow with metal forming experts

The tray shown below is an integral part of the deaerator process for Ultra’s newest customer.  Multiple trays are located inside a tank where water drips down from tray to tray at a set rate.  As seen in the picture, “an island” is located between the slots and the customer designed it this way to improve the strength of the tray.  The customer came to Ultra ready to test this design and move forward with production.  Their main concerns with this new design:

1.  Manufacturing costs.

2. Feasibility of the design.

 

ANALYZE

The first action Ultra took was to perform a stress test analysis on the tray utilizing FEA (Finite Element Analysis) simulation software from Autodesk.   The goal of this test was to identify areas in the tray with highly concentrated levels of stress.  Then Ultra would need to reduce that stress to a point that would allow the tray to function as intended.

Where was the highest level of stress located?

Answer:  The island strip designed between the slots.

Green color indicates high levels of stress.

This area was hindering the natural flow of material during the manufacturing process.   The stress test proved that removing the island would allow the material to flow better during forming and reduce the unwanted stress on the tray.

DEVELOP

What was the next step?

Redesign the tray to reduce stress and maintain its functionality in the deaerator process.  This meant minimal changes to the overall shape and dimensions of the tray as the customer couldn’t afford the time and money to overhaul the deaerator process.

Our engineering and design teams worked with the customer to develop a design that was manufacturable and met their strength and cost concerns.   Prototyping provided the ability to fine-tune the manufacturing process and evaluate material flow during each modification.

IMPLEMENT

Laser cutting and press brake forming were the best processes to produce this part and maintain costs that were acceptable to the customer.

  1. Laser-cut the blank including the slots.  No die building costs.
  2. Form the flanges around the slots.
  3. Form the 90 degree bends around the frame.

 

Leave it to Ultra to bring material expertise to your next project.  We’ve been working with materials for 50 years and understand its behaviors, tendencies and problems throughout the manufacturing process.