Looks may not be everything, but product designers will tell you that look do convey a message to the market. Miles Diagnostics, which will be known as Bayer in April, wanted its RA2000 blood analyzer to convey a new message, so it redesigned the product. Although technically sophisticated, the RA2000 had lost market share, in large part due to its ``unimpressive, utilitarian appearance,'' said Michael Paloian, president of Integrated Design Systems Inc. in Great Neck, N.Y., the company chosen to head up the product's redesign. That was a direct result of the limitations of the sheet metal used in production of the RA2000, he said.
The company wanted a design with parts that are easy to assemble, that could pass shipping tests and result in equipment that would be easy to service. Bayer, of Tarrytown, N.Y., also wanted a minimal tooling investment that could realize a payback within the first year's production, and a lead time of 10 weeks. To accomplish those aims, Paloian decided to switch to pressure forming.
``In general, I've noticed a major trend toward pressure forming in the medical and instrument markets due to the high cost of the products and the competitiveness of those marketplaces which force manufacturers to be more sensitive to the appearance,'' Paloian said.
Paloian said one of the major benefits Bayer realized by using pressure forming is the ability to make changes in the design even after the tooling is finished.
``It affords the designer and manufacturer the luxury of making functional changes in the part without incurring any costs due to the amount of secondary operations that are inherently a part of the process,'' he said.
Gregstrom Corp. of Woburn, Mass., was picked to pressure form the parts, and Beverly Pattern of Beverly, Mass., was selected to do the tooling.
The redesigned unit has 21 molded components and about 100 sheet metal parts.