3D CAD SOLIDWORKS Case Study Barnstead

From Flower Power and Disco to Reality TV and low-carb diets, fads are constantly changing. What’s the hot trend in today’s world of medical equipment? The swoopier the better. Dubuque-based Barnstead-Thermolyne, one of the world’s most experienced designers and manufacturers of research and industrial laboratory products, uses SOLIDWORKS to deliver extremely complicated products to the marketplace, while adhering to the industry’s demand for swoopiness, if you will.

“Our customers definitely expect a more aesthetic product now,” comments Mark Lockwood, Engineering Team Leader, Barnstead-Thermolyne. Lockwood uses the fluorometer (the first project designed solely in SOLIDWORKS for Barnstead’s Engineering Team) as an example of how Barnstead packages a highly intricate product with a simple, streamlined look (shown left). “There are four plastic injection-molded cavities, five aluminum extrusions and four formed sheet metal proponents, and then there’s the keypad which is probably the most complex keypad we’ve ever made. The complexity of that surface was very, very complicated because of the surfaces having to meet and blend.”

Barnstead’s CAD evaluation process started with almost every computer aided design package on the market and was quickly narrowed down to ProEngineer, SolidDesigner, SolidEdge and SOLIDWORKS. The first thing they noticed about SOLIDWORKS was its minimal hardware requirement and ease-of use.

“The other guys brought in their ‘liquid-nitrogen cooled CPUs.’ They brought in their best dual-processors and Computer Aided Technology showed us SOLIDWORKS on a laptop,” comments Lockwood. “We watched the number of pull-downs, how much effort went into creating the solids or the sheet metal, and if we could pick-up what they were doing. We were very impressed with SOLIDWORKS’ ease-of-use.”

Additionally, a SOLIDWORKS’ Finite Element Analysis Solution Partner, SOLIDWORKS Simulation, fit the needs of engineers to help improve the integrity of their designs. In the end, a complete SOLIDWORKS solution, including the ability to network licenses where necessary, was the Barnstead-Thermolyne choice.

Since its implementation eight years ago, SOLIDWORKS is Barnstead’s CAD favorite for numerous reasons, specifically, reduced design errors and less documentation.

“We probably have one-fifth of the number of prints we used to have for these tooled items. We use the solid model as the definition for ordering tools now instead of a series of prints,” Lockwood explained. “Plus, we make a much more complex product in a shorter period of time and it works. For complex sheet metal forms, it used to take us up to 7 times to get it right, and now there’s a good chance you get it right the first time. The sheet metal side of SOLIDWORKS is so intuitive with the bend allowances that all your holes line-up and that’s rare.”

SOLIDWORKS has also simplified the communication process between Engineering, Sales, Marketing and Management at Barnstead-Thermolyne. In one case, a draftsman at Barnstead was directed to make a variation to an existing product using PhotoWorks so Sales could present it to the CEO of their parent company the next day. In the presentation, the CEO yanked the PhotoWorks file out of his paperwork and said “this is a product we need now, when can we get this to market?” The product didn’t even exist 24 hours ago and now he has a picture of it in his hand.

Although SOLIDWORKS is the tool of choice for Barnstead Engineers, that might not be the case without CATI. Barnstead didn’t want to travel for training and shut the department down, so they decided to bring in CATI and get everybody trained in one day. They could even bring a physical part in to their instructor and he could actually help with their own, specific issues.

Barnstead is also impressed with the individual attention they get with their PhD-level support and training courses at CATI’s Buffalo Grove facility.

“Typically the classes at CATI are fairly small and we are able to interact with the instructor very easily. They help us after the class and make our trip worthwhile,” said Lockwood. “We don’t call for technical support very often, but when we do it is a 911 and we need immediate solutions. CATI is always very receptive to that and able to address the issues in a timely manner for us.”

So, with all said and done, what is the moral of this story? If you are looking for the latest technology, do what 300,000 others have done and look to SOLIDWORKS.