Building Innovative Blow-Molded Water Tanks with SOLIDWORKS

design directions

Design Directions

Using SOLIDWORKS Professional and SOLIDWORKS Premium design software, Design Directions created an innovative, blow-molded water tank design that uses half the material of rotationally molded tanks without compromising strength.

Challenge:

Create innovative product designs that take advantage of more cost-effective manufacturing methods and use of materials.

Solution:

Implement SOLIDWORKS, SOLIDWORKS Professional, and SOLIDWORKS Premium product development software.

Benefits:

• Cut material usage in half

• Doubled concept development without adding time

• Shortened development of product family from two weeks to two days

• Reduced number of production molds from five to three

Design Directions Pvt. Ltd. is an award-winning design studio in Pune, India. The firm creates innovative product designs that appeal to end customers’ emotions, instincts, and aspirations, as well as satisfy technical requirements for cost-effective manufacturing and assembly. In addition to developing exciting product designs for clients in the medical, electronics, capital goods, and consumer products industries, Design Directions delivers total communication strategy services, including the development of brand and identity, graphic design, interactive design, packaging, and user interface elements.

Until 2008, the company utilized a combination of Ashlar-Vellum™ 2D and 3D design tools and 3D Studio Max® rendering software to create design concepts and prepare production data. That’s when the company decided to try SOLIDWORKS® 3D design software with services from reseller Pelf Infotech Pvt. Ltd. Its experience with SOLIDWORKS software prompted Design Directions management to standardize on SOLIDWORKS software, according to Industrial Designer Nachiket Gole.

“We decided to try out SOLIDWORKS because we believed the software would make us more efficient by combining 3D design, simulation, 2D drawing generation, and rendering tools within a single application,” Gole recalls. “With SOLIDWORKS, we discovered that it was faster and easier to form and imagine new concepts and designs. More importantly, the time that it took to create, refine, and render each concept was less, allowing us to accelerate our process.

”Design Directions standardized on SOLIDWORKS solutions—implementing SOLIDWORKS, SOLIDWORKS Professional, and SOLIDWORKS Premium design software—because the software was easier to use, saved time, and provided industrial design, engineering, and production drawing tools within one integrated platform.

“Rendering a design in a photorealistic environment is an important part of our industrial design process because it makes it easier for clients to visualize different concepts,” Gole explains. “SOLIDWORKS PhotoView 360 makes it easy to render concepts modeled in SOLIDWORKS. This reduces iterations and saves time, which lets us create a greater number of early concepts, refine designs more quickly using the software’s engineering tools, and deliver production drawings from within a single design environment.”

Increased water tank concept development

An example of how SOLIDWORKS provides Design Directions with substantial productivity gains was the development of an innovative, blow-molded residential water tank to be manufactured and commercialized by client Vectus Industries Ltd. Historically, water tanks for residential homes were of riveted thick steel, then of rotationally molded plastic, such as linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), to reduce weight for ease of transport.

“With SOLIDWORKS, we were able to create an aesthetically pleasing, modular design that utilized a more cost-effective manufacturing method that used less material. The SOLIDWORKS ConfigurationManager played a major role in simplifying the modularity requirement of the design, resulting in significant savings in tooling costs for our client.” — Nachiket Gole, Industrial Designer

Using SOLIDWORKS, Design Directions created an innovative, blow-molded water tank design that uses half the material of rotationally molded tanks without compromising strength. “With SOLIDWORKS, we were able to create twice as many original concepts in the same amount of time,” Gole stresses. “That process led to a modular mold design—to produce different tanks with capacities of 200, 300, 500, 750, and 1,000 liters—with common mold components in half the wall thickness of existing tanks, resulting in a lighter, more attractive product.”

Modular designs through configurations

To meet client requirements for cost-effective development and production, Design Directions utilized SOLIDWORKS configuration tools to drive a modular approach for creating the complete family of Vectus water tanks. Once the customer selected the final design concept, which incorporated ribs and a smooth shoulder radius pattern that could be sliced, and the design consultancy ran basic simulation studies to validate tensile strength, Design Directions leveraged SOLIDWORKS design configuration tools to more efficiently generate designs for multiple capacities simply by adding or removing slices in the mold. “SOLIDWORKS design configurations enabled us to quickly create the additional models and drawings to support production of all five tank capacities,” Gole recounts. “With SOLIDWORKS, we completed work on preparing geometry data to support moldmaking—an effort that would have formerly taken a couple weeks—in just two days.”

Achieving manufacturing savings

Design Directions also utilized SOLIDWORKS to support a modular approach to production, utilizing three molds instead of five to produce the five different tank capacities. The firm used one mold for producing 200- and 300-liter tanks, one mold for manufacturing 750- and 1,000-liter tanks, and one mold for making the 500-liter tank. Single molds were used to support production of different capacities by adding or subtracting a mold insert of a corresponding height to the difference in capacity. “With SOLIDWORKS, we were able to create an aesthetically pleasing, modular design that utilized a more cost-effective manufacturing method that used less material,” Gole says. “The SOLIDWORKS ConfigurationManager played a major role in simplifying the modularity requirement of the design, resulting in significant savings in tooling costs for our client.”

Design Directions relied on SOLIDWORKS design configuration tools to support a modular approach to mold development that enabled the design consultancy to more efficiently produce water tanks with capacities of 200, 300, 500, 750, and 1,000 liters using common mold components and half the wall thickness of existing tanks. The firm leveraged Styrofoam™ physical mock-ups (top image) and SOLIDWORKS form and geometry modeling tools (bottom image) to facilitate development.