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Design for Manufacturability


Project Profile

Designing for Manufacturability: Transforming concepts to products

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A global beverage company had designed a new fountainsoda machine. When they learned that their design needed revamping for real-world applications, they partnered with the experts at Vollrath Manufacturing Services (VMS) to produce multiple components that transformed their idea into reality.

Global beverage company was
introducing a market-leading beverage
system and needed a partner that
could produce multiple complex
components cost-effectively.
Design and manufacture a final
product that meets rigid food
safety requirements, and stands
up to heavy daily use.
Working closely with the client,
the experts at VMS tapped into
several in-house services and
designed several components
that met the business needs.

Getting your favorite fountain soda from a dispenser is simple. Just hold your cup under the nozzle of your drink of choice, push a button, and before you know it you’re ready to quench your thirst with an ice-cold drink. Designing and manufacturing the parts that make it easy for consumers to use is a bit more complicated — especially if it’s a brand new style that’s never been manufactured before. 

That was the case with a global beverage company’s design for the “ice collar,” part (an adapter frame for an ice maker assembly) of their newest fountain beverage machine — one of several components VMS helped develop and manufacture for the client. 

Initially, the company envisioned a plastic injection- molded piece. When the real-world application of the piece was taken into account, however, the VMS team helped them see that plastic wouldn’t be able to hold the weight of the ice over time, or stand up to everyday wear-and-tear. 

Changing the material to stainless steel solved the sturdiness challenge, but wasn’t without some unique concerns of its own. Fortunately, the VMS team was ready to meet the challenge head-on and dig deeper to explore how to best use stainless and determine the right design for the application.

The Challenge
The design engineers at Vollrath knew they had a complex project on their hands — and they knew they could find a solution. The first step was working closely with the client to understand their vision for this key component.

Some considerations the team had to take into account included:

  • NSF Standards for sanitation
  • Ability to hold 300 pounds
  • Durability to stand-up to high-volume use

Armed with input from the client the team set out to modify the original design for manufacturability.  

The Solution
Stainless steel can be a difficult material to work with because it hardens when it reaches a certain temperature making manipulation of the shape all but impossible. Annealing makes it easier to manipulate the shape of the
material, making it stronger and improving corrosion resistance. That’s why it is often used for applications where sanitation is paramount, such as foodservice.

Vollrath’s expertise in working with stainless steel, as well as its in-house annealing capabilities – which most manufacturers don’t have – were key factors in creating a functional design that could move seamlessly into production.

So was the team’s willingness to re-assess and adjust plans when needed. For example, the initial
design called for a spot weld, however the team quickly realized a spot weld was not going to
provide long-term durability and was able to make a quick transition to a plug weld. 

Being able to make the call and adjust in-house meant we could avoid lengthy (and costly) back- and-forth with outside partners. We were able to keep the project moving and maintain the agreed-upon timeline. What’s more,
having a single manufacturing partner able to provide services in-house meant we could monitor quality standards throughout the manufacturing process.
In all, the project was successful using several in-house Vollrath capabilities including:
• Design engineering
• Annealing
• Laser cutting
• Press braking
• Deep drawing
• Conventional trimming
• Welding
• Passivation

The Results

Close communication was key to this project’s launch. Vollrath’s expert insight and capabilities ensured the ice collar was designed for manufacturability and would be durable in a high- volume application. After thorough product testing, validation, and client approval, Vollrath began production on the approximately 3,000 pieces per year requirement for the client.

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