Friday, December 9, 2011

Design Concept to Prototype to Product

Working with toymakers to produce a new toy is a very rewarding project.  This year we developed a new toy - a simple airplane with a fuselage, a wing, and two wheels.  This project will use existing designs as a starting point.  The product must be safe for kids, simple to produce, and yet leave lots of room for imagination by the end user, that is, of course, kids.

The existing design was a small wooden toy plane purchased at the Thrift Shop for the CLUB for BOYS, of all places.  The wheels on the plane were considered to be too small to be safe for kids, as the industry standard for wheels for kids is 1 1/2 inches.  Therefore, we increased the size of the design to accomodate the larger wheels.  Then there were other considerations, such as thickness of the fuselage, the thickness of the wing, and the method for attaching the wheels.  Other options including adding a  propeller, tail stabilizer, or a window was discussed, but it was decided not to include them for this phase of the program.  After these options were discussed, several prototypes were built to help visualize the design.

With a prototype selected, we made plans for an initial production run of 50.  Parts would need to be made and qual tested for compliance with the prototype.  Tooling would be needed to ensure easy and consistent assembly.  After a few parts were made, the tooling would need to be tested to ensure that they would all fit together as planned.  Discovery of any fit problems needed to be discovered early on, in case changes were required to parts that were already being built.
Just as we were seeking to find the right material for the airplane, we were introduced to Magnum Enterprises.  They provided us with scrap material that was perfect for milling the fuselage and wing.  So parts production was started.  The decision to make/buy the wheels was an easy one.

The first tool needed was a fixture to hold the wing for drilling a hole for the attaching screw in the exact center of the wing.  The second tool that was needed was a fixture to hold the fuselage at 90 degrees while the wing was attached. So work began on these fixtures.

The fixture to hold the wing was made using poplar and Plexiglas.  A slot was needed to insert and remove the wing from the fixture.
The fixture for holding the fuselage at 90 degrees to the wing was made using the other half of the cutout from the fuselage. 

 After some testing of the tooling fixtures, and some minor mods, the assembly process could begin. 


 Then initial sanding, application of a sealer, final sanding, application of a finish, and final touch up with a white buffing pad.

Wheels are added after final spray lacquer is dry using same method as used for assembling wheels for toy cars.

Many of the operations used in the process of making a TOY AIRPLANE are similar to operations required to make many of the toys for the RCWA Toy Program.  Only the fixtures are unique to this toy.

To get to the HOME PAGE of the Rapid City Woodworking Association, click on the link below:

the end