Laser Cut Name Plate Design Process
As a professional CAD designer, the design process is the most crucial process to be familiar and proficient with. A CAD designer must be able to take an idea and bring it through the process and come out with a product on the other side. This blog will be over one of the in-house projects completed at Perception Engineering. The task is to create a simple, yet stylish laser cut nameplate to go on all employee desks. The design process for this project will be outlined to show exactly how the process of designing a custom idea is executed.
The Project Guidelines
For any custom project, there are going to be guidelines in order to meet all the customers’ expectations. These guidelines usually layout the general dimensions, materials, forms, pieces, timeline, etc. For this project, the guidelines were to make a small nameplate out of 3D printed and Laser cut materials. The nameplate should have some press fit or snap-on feet to hold it upright. For the shape, a simple rectangle will be enough. Now as a CAD designer, the job is to take these guidelines and bring that idea to life.
The First Draft
For the initial design draft, it is a good idea to create a sketch or a 3D model and show it to the customer/project leader. This is done to make sure that the first step is in the right direction and no materials are wasted. For the nameplate project, two initial designs were created and they are shown below in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Initial design ideas
After these ideas were submitted for approval, some feedback was received. The foot design was too large they need to be slimmed down. As for the nameplate itself, all that was needed was a simple rectangle, however, the addition of a little shape was approved as it added some flair to the design. This is the job of the designer, to follow the process and guidelines but create an original idea.
First Cut Prototype
After updating the foot design and getting it approved, it was time to cut out/print the first prototype. The reason for a prototype is to test exactly how everything will come together in a real-world scenario. The feet for the project were 3D printed while the nameplate was laser cut out of acrylic. The first prototype is shown in Figure 2. Also, a Job description line was added below the name line.
Figure 2: First prototype
After finishing the first prototype, it was time to get feedback from everyone who would be receiving one. This was done to see what does and what does not appeal to the client/customer. After getting some feedback, it was decided to make both the feet and the nameplate out of acrylic and have nothing 3D printed. This would be done purely for the aesthetics of the design.
Edits and Re-Design
When going through the design process there are going to be a lot of small changes and edits. It takes a few tries before the correct design for both form and function finally come along. The 3D printed feet for this project were made now in acrylic. However, since acrylic is much more brittle than the 3D printed plastic, the foot design would now snap in the place shown in Figure 3 when being put onto the nameplate.
Figure 3: Breaking points on nameplate feet
To fix this problem, the feet for the nameplate needed to be re-designed. The design was edited to have extra material in the places where previous breaks would occur. Also, since the acrylic was not able to bend without snapping, the exact spacing tolerance had to be found to have the nameplate fit into the gap. The new foot design was recut multiple times with different sizing and gap tolerances until one design finally fit all the criteria.
After the last prototype had been cut out, a final meeting was held. This meeting was to review the design one last time and make any edits before multiple nameplates were cut out for every employee. In the final meeting, some small changes were made. Bigger fillets would be added to the foot pieces and the bottom corners of the nameplate were to have fillets as well. These changes were made easily, and a nameplate was soon designed for each employee. All nameplates were cut out, assembled, and given out accordingly. The final Design is shown below in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Final Nameplate design
When going through a design process there are many things that need to be kept in mind. All outlines and expectations must be met, the deadline must be met, and the design needs to be appealing overall. The most important part of the design process, however, is communication. It’s extremely important to continuously be going back to the customer or leader for input and edit ideas. This constant communication will give you a better design outcome all while keeping the design time down to a minimum.