Posted on April 20th, 2016 in Uncategorized
We are celebrating 15 years since our humble beginnings in 2001. It all started in the basement of my house with a computer, software and a commitment to innovation, engineering and problem solving in new product development. Since then, we’ve grown into one of the most full-service product development firms in in Cleveland, Ohio and the Midwest, serving some of the largest companies across the country.
Looking back over the 5,500 days and hundreds of thousands of hours, we have solved some of the most challenging problems for some of the best known brands, through perseverance and exceptionally hard work racking our brains. We have earned the respect of many, including other design firms, by consistently solving difficult problems, applying the right manufacturing process for a given product, and overall offering excellent end results. Almost always, our work culminates in creating intellectual property as added value and client market advantage.
Our work has included medical devices, consumer products, commercial products, dispensing systems, water treatment systems, faucets, plumbing and drain systems, retail systems, electrical construction products, automotive and aerospace engineering, and so much more. Never could we have anticipated the great diversity of new products we helped create. But we’re really just getting started.
In the business world, as in life, everything happens through people. We have been so fortunate to be able to build wonderful relationships with employees, customers and suppliers. There are so many great people with which we have had the pleasure of working. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation to all of the wonderful people who helped us over the years.
Looking forward, there are many more opportunities to pursue and people to help. There forever will be problems to solve and improvements to make in almost any area of life, product and service. We will continue to pursue those problems and deficiencies as opportunities, turning ideas into something real. Stay tuned for more great innovations.
Posted on March 30th, 2016 in Uncategorized
What are BIMs?
BIMs (Building Information Models) are interconnected, parametric digital representations of buildings and their components. They originated about 20 years ago and have been growing in popularity because of the value they offer to architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, and manufacturers of building products. Early BIM software developers had a vision of the benefits to an all-digital model of architecture. With everyone having access to the same digital information, there is reduction in construction timelines and misinformation made possible by vast amounts of 24/7 real-time information in text, numeric and and 3D (3-Dimensional) formats.
Just as in mechanical or electrical product design for a telephone or automobile with hundreds or thousands of components, in the AEC market (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) the buildings can be designed and managed in a digital format, with myriad advantages. The 3D digital models are object-based and tied to a database of all components which are carefully categorized and can even have 4th and 5th dimensions, for time-based values for procurement and construction scheduling, and price-based values for cost management.
What are the Benefits of BIMs?
When all of the dimensions, quantities and specific placement of products are implemented into a building digitally, there are many advantages. It’s widely understood that changes are imminent in designing anything. The many changes made in the design and construction cycle require time and associated costs. When those changes can be completed more effectively by altering the digital model, less time and money is expended. In the past, interference of components was often not detected until the construction phase, but now in the digital model, crash detection can be performed at the earliest phases of design. All of this visualization and data-rich environment has benefit to the different disciplines and phases of the building lifecycle.
Centralization of the digital information is also a significant advantage to the contractor who has to offer a proposal for the building, and has to manage through the construction management phase. Furthermore, the probability of errors or misinformation is lower and schedule delays are reduced in part because of the immediacy of information access. And when the building is complete, the owner of the building has a more effective means of managing the facility throughout its long life of maintenance and remodeling.
Once the commitment is made by a manufactuer of building products to provide their BIMs and specifications on any of the BIM repositories via the Internet, there are many ways to be found: searching for a part number, a manufacturer name, a product category and other terms. For anyone interested in better marketing their product for the building industry, it’s important to produce BIMs because they are becoming a competitive advantage; if you have a similar or identical product line to a competitor, and you do not have BIMs, yet your competitor does, the opportunity, exposure and professional perception is greater for your competition.
Who creates BIMs?
In order for building models to be digital, someone has to create them. Manufacturers of products for the building are the ideal resource to provide BIMs used by architects in their designs. The information will be most accurate and complete, and when the manufacturer provides BIMs it effectively precludes duplication of effort of individual architects across the globe, inefficiently making their own components to suit their individual needs. For building product manufacturers, offering this digital information is an important marketing advantage. It enables direct digital communication with the end user of the information.
Selection of products are based on information, so providing more professional quality information offers more opportunities to be be specified and selected. That translates to opportunities for more sales revenue. In addition to the BIMs, literature, catalogs, drawings, and engineering specifications can all be provided in one place for digital review or downloading. The more information that can be provided via this means the more effective it is for the provider and recipient. In today’s global need for speed, much work is being done asynchronously in the off hours of morning and night when other people may not be available. So having the information available 24/7 in the format needed, designers, architects, engineers, and construction professionals can do what they need uninhibited.
What software is used for BIMs?
Manufacturers of building products are likely using one of a handful of popular mechanical 3D CAD (Three-Dimensional Computer Aided Design) software systems to design and engineer their products. This 3D CAD software is not the same software used to create the BIMs. Exporting file formats from the mechanical CAD is only the beginning of creating BIMs, and even that is not always simple. So designers and manufacturers of products for the AEC market need to either acquire new software or look to the outside for a third party firm offering assistance in creating BIMs. There is much to know when offering BIMs so be prepared for a learning curve. The building industry knows that BIMs are here to stay and creating or managing this information requires an investment to participate.
In considering BIM software, there are several leading software brands that offer the capability to create and manage BIMs, such as Autodesk’s Revit and Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD. Repositories of BIMs of the many components that comprise a building, such as windows, doors, lighting, electrical and plumbing systems, and even furniture, are offered by leading websites such as Seek or ARCAT, or directly from a product manufacturer’s web site.
How can I get someone to create BIMs for my product line?
We have created BIMs for the AEC market and can assist manufacturers that need to bridge the gap from mechanical CAD to BIMs. We also have designed, engineered and tested products for the construction market with experience in plumbing, electrical, lighting, furniture, vending machines, food service, washroom/restroom systems, floor care and water treatment systems.
Posted on February 29th, 2016 in Uncategorized
Further enhancing our soft goods and textile capability, we now have a Serging Sewing Machine. This gem is a 4 thread model that has varied widths and thread tension to do some very cool things in a very professional manner. Our growing client base has very broad requirements for textile-based soft goods, so we have responded with even greater capability. If you are not familiar with serging in soft goods, it is found in edges of many end products such as shirts, pants, sweaters, bags, wipers, rags, blankets, commercial/industrial filters and many other items. A serger cuts and finishes the edge of single and multiple layers of fabrics. The serged edge can be made visible for decorative purposes, or kept hidden from view purely as a functional stitch. It plays a vital role in preventing fabric from unraveling in use or during laundering. If cut fabric edges are not serged, when threads break free they can cause different kinds of problems. With adjustments to thread tension, threads per inch and and width of the stitch, creative outcomes can be produced. If you would like to know more about this or the other soft goods, textile and hard goods prototyping we can produce, we would be pleased to assist you on your next project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- 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.
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.