Enhanced Soft Goods Capability

Posted on October 3rd, 2015 in Uncategorized

With the increased demand for soft goods from clients, and to further broaden our ever-growing prototyping capability, we have added another sewing machine. It has the capability of nearly 70 stitches and embroidery of graphics as well. We are experimenting with all it can do, and it is really amazing what can be accomplished. It is being put to use on several pending soft goods projects as a growing number of clients have learned that we are more capable than most design firms. Product design and engineering is at our core, but we can do so much more. (That rhyme was not intentional – but we left it for your amusement).

Some design firms can create attractive images, but cannot translate that 2D graphic to a realistic 3-dimensional prototype that can be evaluated for function, design, manufacturability and cost. Our experience has taught us that that is where the product development often begins in earnest, because deficiencies are quickly realized and can be remedied. We follow through from design concept through prototyping, into production because we are truly a full service product design firm. If you have a need to design or prototype a new product or concept using fabric, elastic, straps, snaps, buckles, hook and loop, and the like, or using a combination of rigid components and flexible fabrics, please contact us as we are very well equipped to produce most any soft good prototype.


SLA Rapid Prototyping In-House

Posted on June 17th, 2015 in News

Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) is a rapid prototyping method that uses a laser to cure light-sensitive material. It produces accurate geometric shapes often in very thin layers. We have had SLA capability for more than a year and thought it was time to get the word out. We can produce parts in different materials and colors including black, gray, white and clear. Rubber is also an option when flexibility is needed. Layers can be as fine as 0.001 inch for the most precise part needs, although most parts have acceptable resolution and run faster at 0.005 inch. The ability to produce fine detail has been instrumental for many different projects and will certainly continue to be a valuable asset for our fast-paced development for market leading brands.

This SLA capability augments our professional Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) machine with high strength material we have had for almost a decade. Our machine is a full-size commercial workhorse that has been a vital tool for many different projects. Accurate parts in layers as small as 0.010 inch and can be produced and treated to enhance mechanical properties and contain pressure from 15 to 150 PSIG. Our FDM has enabled the development of valve, water treatment and plumbing components among many other applications for consumer, commercial, medical, industrial and aerospace markets. We have made fixtures and parts that were more cost effective than any other process.

These rapid methods, combined with our complete in-house machine shop, thermoforming, casting, welding and painting capability enable nearly any fidelity (low or high) prototype to be professionally produced.  An increasing number of new and existing companies are utilizing our expanding services with outstanding results. Inquire with us to learn how your projects can benefit from our full service prototyping, product design and engineering services.


All Sewn Up in Softgoods

Posted on June 16th, 2015 in News

In years past, we have had an occasional need for sewing and the general construction of soft goods. When you are as sensitive and focused as we are about quality and speed of development, some processes warrant acquiring equipment for vertical integration. We are proud to announce we recently purchased a state-of the art commercial sewing machine to better control our soft goods development and fabrication.

Our new machine is capable of processing a wide variety of material thicknesses, stitch styles and lengths, back stitching, and all with unparalleled accuracy and cleanliness. Combined with our commercial cutting equipment, thread colors and types, material sourcing, heat sealing, and thermoforming, we can construct quite a variety of soft and semi-soft products. We are further enhancing our inventory of hook and loop, straps, bands, elastics, expandable fabrics, wicking fabrics, cords and cord management, and other implements.

In our pragmatic approach, we wanted our equipment and processes to represent what is commonly used in domestic or offshore soft goods factories. Our decades of experience has taught us that too significant a difference in the prototyping method may render unsatisfactory results for commercialization. We are delighted with this empowering new tool and supporting inventory for the creation of almost any innovation in soft goods.

We have several projects now with a specific calling for sewn goods, but our new machine is also available for a broad spectrum of future projects that demand stitching things together. As it often happens in our business, one has to move quickly to construct a prototype and test and or present a design. When you have the equipment and people in-house, the speed and quality is enhanced, compared to finding, selecting and engaging a vendor, all the while being subject to unknown quality and lead times. Where it makes sense, we pursue more comprehensive control over the development and prototyping process and have had great success with this approach.

When your next project demands a soft good design and or prototyping, please consider us. We’ll get it all sewn up.


Springing into Spring

Posted on May 4th, 2015 in News

It’s feeling like spring with the weather warming, trees blossoming, and the yearning to feel the warm sun on our skin after another brutal Ohio winter. This spring, we have sprung into spring differently than other years. We have acquired the leading spring design software package enabling the design of as many as 49 different types of springs with myriad design variables. We have worked with springs before over the years, but we are on an entirely new level of service offering with this new software capability. By combining this design functionality and the spring manufacturers available to us, we offer an unbeatable one-two punch to quickly go from idea to samples, ready for testing and or production. All of our staff have access to the software enabling them to spring into action at will (we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity – excuse the pun). At the Metcalfe Group one of our core philosophies is to offer the best tools available in the pursuit of exceptional depth and quality of service for our growing client base. This is yet another example of our commitment to excellence in new product design and development, where we truly go above and beyond for clients.


We’re Celebrating 14 Years

Posted on April 30th, 2015 in News

Another year has passed and so much has been accomplished by our talented and dedicated staff in innovating and problem solving for clients. When we stop and reflect upon our accomplishments, it’s hard to believe what we have achieved in the past year at The Metcalfe Group. This month marks 14 years since our founding, and we are grateful for all of the relationships we have built and opportunities granted to us from absolutely wonderful people from Cleveland, across the USA and beyond. We are, with great regularity, amazed at the creativity, intelligence, passion and perseverance of the people we interact with on a regular basis. The business of innovation is perpetually changing and challenging, but is a fantastically rewarding environment and business in which to be a part. With another year having clicked by seemingly so quickly, we count our blessings and express a heartfelt thank you to all we have had the distinct pleasure of interacting with. Our commitment to the business, customers and vendors is continually strengthening as we expand our services through investment in people, technology and processes. Stay tuned for more exciting news in coming months!


Maxwell Render V3 Photo Rendering Upgrade

Posted on February 2nd, 2015 in News

We are pleased to announce we have recently upgraded to Maxwell Render V3 for producing world-class photo-realistic rendering. We continue to utilize the most advanced technology for client projects, and this is just another example of that commitment to excellence.

Maxwell Render is considered the de facto gold standard for photorealistic rendering output quality. It bases its code on the physics of light, not by offering shortcuts to save time, like many other rendering products do. Headquartered in Madrid, Spain and founded in 1998 by two engineers, Next Limit is the maker of Maxwell Render, XFlow and RealFlow. The Flow software products were used in Lord of the Rings and Charlie and the Chocolate factory representing accurate fluid flow.

A few of the new features in Maxwell Render V3 include:

  • Custom Sun Radius with shadow softness controls and distant emitters with parallel shadows.
  • Fast MultiLight preview (GPU-accelerated) updating scattering and dispersion.
  • Improved FIRE – re-voxelizing only the objects that have changed.
  • The “cut-away” ability with render booleans to partially “look inside” an object or assembly via bounding box, plane or sphere intersection.
  • New Lenses: fisheye, pinhole, orthographic and spherical (great for virtual walk-through or HDR environments)
  • Improved motion blur
  • Double-sided materials for use on paper, bottle labels, leaves or the like

Computer generated imagery (CGI) is being utilized at an ever increasing rate in the new product development environment, and across other media-related communication. It reduces cost and time by utilizing the 3D CAD model which has already been created for FEA, rapid prototyping or manufacturing. Rather than preparing for a photo shoot that can be prohibitive because of weather, cost, setup, or timeline, developing a Photo Realistic Rendering can produce astonishingly lifelike imagery in short order and with a smaller budget. These software tools are making it more difficult to discern if an image is a photograph of an actual product or if it’s a computer-generated render. This realism is due to the emphasis on the true physics of light – much like a camera and the scene it captures.

We have generated a variety of renders using earlier versions of Maxwell Render for clients including: housewares, consumer products, industrial products and commercial goods. As long as we can establish the end objectives, time frames and budget, most anything can be produced digitally.

Common uses for photorealistic rendering images are:

  • Trade Show Booths
  • Large or Small Banners
  • Vehicle Wraps
  • Presentations
  • Packaging
  • Literature
  • Web and Social Media
  • Product Launch Materials
  • News Releases
  • Public Relations

We are delighted with the Maxwell Render product and look forward to even further improvements in the next release as science and development marches on. Come back to see what we have created with this wonderful tool.


ANSYS 15 Finite Element Analysis Software Upgrade

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 in News

Everyone knows that having the right tool makes any job easier. FEA software as a tool in product design is no exception. Frankly, we find it indispensable in analyzing designs and making products better.

We are proud to announce the upgrade to ANSYS 15.0 software for Finite Element Analysis. For those of you who are not familiar, ANSYS software is considered the gold standard in the analysis software industry, and is used by 96 of the top 100 Fortune Global 500 companies. Examples of users of ANSYS software include Tesla, SpaceX, Volkswagen, Toyota, General Motors and Eaton, among many other prominent global companies.

We have been using ANSYS software for more than a decade because of its accuracy, ease of use,  depth in capability, and professional reporting. The new 15.0 release has many new enhancements, but due to space restrictions, only a few will be mentioned here.

As a general theme in computing, working remote from the office-based single computer or computer cluster is being better accommodated as users travel near or far. In this latest release, ANSYS has enhanced the remote functions and  batch and interactive management of computing runs. This offers added flexibility when remotely managing, for multiple jobs and interrupting jobs. When the day at the office ends and you want to check on an analysis, or to finish what you started, connecting from a remote location has become more effective. This makes better use of computing and human resources.

New compilers, optimized code and new hardware options all contribute to enhanced quality and speed in the new release. The use of the latest NVIDIA Kepler GPUs are now supported, and two can be utilized if desired. We are using the lastest ANSYS-recommended hardware from HP – the new Z840 workstation with the maximum size solid state drive (SSD) for solving. The Z840 can handle up to 2 terabytes (TB) of DDR4 memory, up to 10 hard drives and two GPUs, for extreme expansion capability. We’ve used these HP workstations for years and are sold on them based on expandability, quality, and reliability.

In summary, enhanced features, better control and improved speed and many other attributes make ANSYS 15.0 a great new FEA tool for simulating many different products and problems. We look forward to its application in solving linear, nonlinear and other structural mechanical problems for our ever-growing client base.


CAD Updates – Creo 3.0 & SolidWorks 2015

Posted on October 7th, 2014 in News

Here at The Metcalfe Group we’re always striving to stay on top of the latest technology and tools in product development in order to create better products faster. As you may have guessed, one of our primary tools is CAD. We’ve recently upgraded PTC Creo (formerly Pro/E) to version 3.0 and SolidWorks 2015 will soon be released. These are the two major players in product development, and while conceptual work can really be done in whatever software one is comfortable in, having a common software platform allows easy collaboration with our customers’ designers and engineers and makes for a quicker road to production.

SolidWorks has been used for the majority of the CAD work we do at The Metcalfe Group. This year’s enhancements include many to the user interface that should make our lives easier and reduce headaches, as well as a few powerful tools that get to the desired geometry in fewer steps than before. Others have compiled their top lists of features if you’re interested (Javelin and SolidSmack or the official version), but the short version is that we’re excited to use some asymmetric fillets, move some faces with end conditions, view parent/child relationships, and flatten a few surfaces on your next project.

PTC Creo is also a very powerful tool that a number of our customers use. PTC has a good top list of enhancements as does Develop 3D. Among them are enhanced abilities to work with other CAD software, integrate freeform surfaces with other geometry (they also got the flatten surface memo), and analyze parts. While SolidWorks still wins on the interface front, Creo 3.0 has its own interface enhancements, including ways to more efficiently work with early stage concepts.

Of course, if your organization has not yet upgraded (many wait a bit for the bugs to be worked out) we always keep previous versions on our computers. So we’ll be able to give you SolidWorks 2014 and Creo 2.0 files for as long as you like. Let us know how we can put these tools to work for you.


An Addition to our Engineering Team

Posted on August 30th, 2014 in News

Those of you who worked with us in the last few months will know this already, but we’ve added a new member to our team: Chris Welsh. Chris comes to us with experience in multiple engineering roles in the greater Cleveland area. He received his BSETM, and a Business Administration minor from Ohio University, and has experience with injection molding, roto-molding, CAD, product testing, and many other aspects of product development. He brings with him both practical mechanical knowledge and an understanding of the business end of product development. Able to work with various contexts and skill sets (having already helped us complete projects involving FEA (Finite Element Analysis), technical drawings, electronics programming, prototyping and more); we’re excited to have him as a team member. A Cleveland native, Chris currently lives in North Royalton, Ohio and often can be found on the off-hours golfing or participating in regional bass fishing tournaments.


Support Our Client’s Product on Kickstarter

Posted on June 27th, 2014 in News

Cleandicator in the Dishwasher - Indicationg Dirty and Clean

It can be a tough road bringing an invention from an idea in your head to a finished product, but our client Amy Wolfe is well on her way. Amy had her idea last year when others “helped” with the dishes by loading dirty dishes into a clean dishwasher a few too many times. What she came up with is a way to have an automatic indication of whether the dishwasher had been run that would persist after somebody had opened the door (when the little light would be turned off). It’s a pretty clever little device that solves one of those little annoyances of daily life and will surely cut down on the amount of shouting across the house to figure out if the dishes are clean.

We put a lot of industrial design and engineering work into developing a housewares product that would work consistently across the multitude of dishwashers available. It also had to be be extremely easy to use, look great, and be low cost. After developing the product we helped Amy find manufacturing sources (an injection molder and magnet vendor) who will be making the product real. Amy has secured an investor to get tooling started but is looking to crowd-fund the production costs using Kickstarter. So head on over to Kickstarter and support her today.