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Avoiding 7 common manufacturing design mistakes

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Take a step back. Optimize your project. Five impacts to consider:

  • Cost

  • Time

  • Use

  • Re-Engineering

  • Material Purchases


Mistake #1: Not engineering for the basics first

Making sure to engineer a solution based on requirements rather than nice-to-haves.


Example: Designing a 2000 lb. rack when the end product really only requires 100 lbs. Requiring 1/2-inch steel when 3/16-inch steel would work.


Impact: Cost | Time

Mistake #2: Not understanding the use case

Durability, length of time, appearance, and load bearing capabilities are all considerations when choosing the right material for your project.


Example: Using stainless steel because it was more attractive. It was three times more expensive than hot rolled steel, and when it was shipped overseas, it was scratched up within days.


Impact: Re-Engineering | Time | Cost


If you’re refurbishing:

  • Is it possible to update with the modifications?

  • Is it going to be more expensive rather than creating something new?

  • Metal and plastic deteriorate over time. Is the product still structurally sound?

  • What are the risks to the employees of old materials being cut and updated?

Mistake #3: Not understanding materials

Customers will select materials because they are aesthetically pleasing. However, even if the product looks great it’s possible the materials selected don’t align with end requirements.


Example: Customers request powder coating because of the finish. However, the powder-coating adds significant cost while basic paint would have been just fine for an item that would ultimately become dirty and discolored when used.


Impact: Time | Use | Cost

Mistake #4: Not considering machinability

Be less prescriptive upfront. Consider what materials will work best with the use-case at-hand.


Example: This has to do with how we drill the holes and stamp, or basically, how all the pieces come together. Harder steels can take up to three hours to drill holes while others can take 30 minutes. That’s because it’s the difference between drilling into a ½ inch of steel vs. ¼ inch, which doubles the time.


Impact: Time

Mistake #5: Not double-checking accessories and add-ons

Ensure that your project will be done right the first time by understanding the impact of accessories.


Example: In most industrial applications, casters are installed onto equipment in sets of two and four. To achieve the best balance between maneuverability and stability, the two rear casters are designed to swivel, while the two front casters are fixed. Some engineers come back and request mid-process reengineering because they didn’t realize the cart needed to be walked around a machine instead of to and from.


Impact: Cost | Time

Mistake #6: Not confirming dimensions

You can never have too much information on the print, in both lengths and degrees. This ensures non-engineers, like welding & cutting production specialists, can understand your end goal.


Example: When welding two parts that have been cut together, radius is important. Prints can look like a 45-degree radius but in reality, it's 80 degrees. With an incorrect guess, production can come to a grinding halt and the process will stall for a week or more as parts are re-ordered.


Impact: Cost | Time


How important are the tolerances (e.g. a mezzanine fitting over a piece of equipment)?
Are radiuses included in addition to lengths for welding?

Mistake #7: Not confirming conversions

Metric steel is expensive. If engineers don’t transfer the measurements to the American standard, manufacturers could end up spending more than they intended.


Example: Manufacturers can't get 8 mm round steel without adding a great deal of additional cost. 8 mm is .31 inches thick and they can only order .25 or .50 in. To get a specific metric rounded metal material, the manufacturer would have to order from a specialty company. And steel can’t be returned simply because the size was ordered incorrectly.


Impact: Material Purchases | Cost | Time

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