Manufacturing and Fixture Design at Intuitive Surgical
During my time at Intuitive Surgical as a new product introduction (NPI) engineer, I worked on prototyping, design changes for manufacturability, tooling and fixtures, process development, cost reduction and supplier management. I've chosen two examples of design challenges that occurred on the job.
Design under pressure
Every so often there are fixtures that are needed within a week. In this instance, an issue was identified in the manufacturing process that was due to lack of proper fixtures in a gluing process. The parts that were being assembled were extremely delicate and small that needed to be assembled with high locational accuracy. This fixture was designed, built, and manufactured in less than two weeks.
A constant force spring was used to apply an accurate amount of force on the parts as the glue was allowed to cure. An air spring was used to prevent any snapping that may have occurred with a spring loaded mechanism. The two pinching arms were allowed to "float" on a rail, so that there would be no possibility of a side load that could damage the components. A custom designed radial cam was created for ease of use.
Design for Cost in Manufacturing
A gear assembly had a keyed geared that was difficult to index to the gear teeth during manufacturing. I created a change in the assembly process to use a simple laser welding step (already used elsewhere in the assembly) thus avoiding the need to manufacture the costly part. The tooling shown were designed by me to fix the parts in place during the weld.