New Product Development
We can start with your basic product idea or functional need, develop concepts, and produce a manufacturable design. Please see our section on NPD Process for details. New Product Development encompasses all aspects of the services we offer, depending on the nature of the product, from basic idea generation to production.
Effective project management is crucial to successful product development, and at CSE, project management will be closely-integrated with the engineering effort in order to quickly respond to new information and keep time and budget on track every step of the way. In accordance with an agreed-upon project plan, using Microsoft Project, we will manage the details of our design effort (and those of subcontractors, transparent to you, if you prefer) and report to a client liaison on a regular basis or as-needed.
We are experienced in “clean sheet of paper” design... that is, the only aspect of the design is a stated need. Sometimes that need is a pain point, such as existing products falling short of expectations. Sometimes that need is an untapped opportunity in the form of a need that exists and that no existing product addresses. Finally, you might have a vision of a completely new product that users don’t yet want or need, but you believe they’d value the product if it existed. By carefully analyzing and weighing requirements, then adhering to them religiously (but revising them as we “get smarter”) during product development, we turn that great idea of yours into a real, mass-produced product. Of course, we also do our best to help you generate and document new intellectual property along the way, to maximize the value of your product and minimize direct competition in the market.
Systems Engineering is the practice of designing a product from a wholistic and interdisciplinary standpoint, wherein various engineering disciplines might be used in order to meet the system requirements. At CSE, we are proficient in system-level designs employing solutions that are mechanical, electrical/electronic, hydraulic/pneumatic, heat-transfer related, and so forth. These systems are represented in schematic form at the conceptual design level, later driving design of physical subassemblies of purchased and/or manufactured components. During concept downselection, costed bills of materials (BOMs) and predicted performance of these systems and subsystems can be used as deciding factors.
Most times, there exist a wide range of possible ways in which to achieve design requirements while maximizing cost/benefit balance, and interdisciplinary engineering is not a barrier for us. We are part of a network of collaborating consultants, so any detail design of a subsystem or component for which we don’t have sufficient expertise in-house will be subcontracted to a trusted consultant and managed by us.
CSE has very significant in-house mechanical engineering expertise. We use Autodesk Inventor software, but also have access to SolidWorks if your project demands it. We are proficient in the design of machined plastic and metal components, injection-molded and vacuum-formed plastic, bent and welded sheetmetal, and rapid-prototyping process like SLA, SLS, FDM, and cast urethane. We are experienced in finite element analysis (FEA) for static stress of components and assemblies, including weldments. We have extensive experience in designing electromechanical devices where thermal, vibration, moisture, and other requirements drive the design. We routinely perform conceptual modeling, detail modeling, and drafting of manufacturing drawings of all mechanical and electromechanical components in a design. From concept to production, we can provide any mechanical design services you'll need.
Prototyping and Low-Rate Manufacturing
CSE has access to a wide variety of manufacturing resources that excel at quickly turning around very high-quality prototypes and short production runs. We have preferred access to two very good machine shops here in the Sacramento area that are very reasonably-priced and produce exceptional results, often exceeding our expectations in terms of their ability to successfully machine very challenging designs. Also plentiful locally are shops specializing in good-quality sheetmetal parts and metal fabrication.
As for rapid prototyping, we routinely use Stratasys for 3D-printed rapid prototypes in SLA (stereolithography), SLS (selective laser sintered nylon), and FDM (fused deposition modeling of thermoplastics) manufacturing processes. We also use them for cast urethane components, which are great for short production runs of up to 30 parts. We have also used multiple quick-turn injection molding companies, which produce actual injection-molded parts from inexpensive aluminum tooling in just a few weeks.
If we don't already have a vendor lined up for the manufacturing process your design demands, we know how to find the right one. Rest assured that we have the skills and connections to facilitate manufacturing of any design we create for you, quickly and with quality results.
Between in-house capabilities and an established network of collaborating consultants, CSE has the capability to provide any integrated electronic system to meet your needs. Whether the solution involves basic wiring and LEDs, or includes the integration of a custom embedded PC or microcontroller-based control system, CSE can get it done. We (and our collaborators) also have experience with specialized power management applications including hybrid hydrogen fuel cell power systems, lithium-ion battery charging, and high-current (100A), high-efficiency power conversion electronics.
CSE has in-house expertise in defining system-level requirements for electronic subsystems, including user interfaces and seamless physical integration of electronics into the overall mechanical assembly. In fact, in some mass and size-critical designs, printed circuit boards (PCBs) have played integral roles in the mechanical assembly. All specification and mechanical arrangement of electromechanical components like connectors, switches, etc., as well as specification of key electronic components, are managed or done in-house. Subcontractors perform detail design of electronic hardware, firmware, and software.
CSE has experience and expertise in developing FDA Class I and Class II medical devices, both single-use and multi-use, with and without electronics. We are accustomed to working with ISO 13485 and FDA CFR 820.30-compliant quality systems, supporting/performing ISO 14971-compliant risk analysis, and designing for cleanability, biocompatibility, and sterility, where applicable. We are very familiar with best practices with regard to manufacturing methods, materials, packaging, etc. pertaining to single-use and multi-use medical devices. We can provide services pertaining to requirements development, concept development, IP generation, detail design, prototyping, and testing of these medical products. We collaborate extensively with Stem Cell Partners, a life sciences R&D company led by John Chapman, Ph.D., an expert in regenerative medicine, blood biology, and toxicology. We also have access to consultants who can provide guidance for establishing a regulatory strategy for your products.
We have in-house knowledge of general automotive technology, to the extent that we can employ our knowledge of materials and mechanical engineering to design of simple off-road or special-purpose vehicles, or subsystems and components thereof. We have specific experience with designing suspension kinematics, tubular spaceframes, suspension components, and fabricated intake manifolds. We also have experience with electronic fuel injection technology. If you have an idea or a specific need, please talk with us to see how we can be of service!