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Developing New Products

Development of new products can be the key to success for so many manufacturers. Here are five tips to help you successfully develop new aluminum extruded profiles for your products.

  1. Involve your extruder early in the process. First to market often wins. By getting your extruder involved early in the product design and development process, OEMs can reduce start-up costs, and ultimately, overall part costs. Early involvement can also help you reduce lead times, frustrations and surprises, while increasing your opportunities to develop an optimal design early in the development stage.
  2. Be sure that your extruder understands the design intent of your product. If the extruder doesn't understand your component's critical features, mating components, functionality or end use, it could be more difficult for them to help you produce the best product to meet your needs. Take the time to explain to your extruder your new product's design intent and end use application.
  3. There are many manufacturing processes. Is extrusion the right one for you? The best way to know is ask if your extruder has experience, and is able to provide an alternative manufacturing process solution, such as machining from a casting. If your team designs a component that is not extrudable, but instead it makes sense to make it from a casting, it is important that you know this early. So be sure that your supplier understands and can manufacture components using various processes.
  4. Even the best engineers can benefit from an expert's input. We see it every day. Engineers come to us with what they think is the best alloy, the right tolerances, and a design they think is extrudable for their product. When working with customers, our team of engineers will review a product's design features and requirements. Depending on certain factors and product functionality needs, we might recommend an alternative alloy that would work better. We also may identify critical-to-function tolerances for best fit and function, and suggest design adjustments that will produce a better aluminum extruded product. On some occasions, we may even recommend a product be made from a casting or other manufacturing process.
  5. Select suppliers that can do more than just one service. One of the best ways we can help our customers succeed with their product development is to provide other, complementary, manufacturing services, such as CNC machining, bending, fabricating, and finishing. As a single-source supplier performing more of our customers' product manufacturing processes, we are able to have more control over packaging and shipping, and overall quality. We also are able to help minimize freight damages, long lead-times, delays, and added costs that occur when shipping product to multiple locations.

The next time you begin a new product development process, remember these steps and be willing to share product details with your supplier.

At Alexandria Industries, we make a point to get involved in our customers' product development as early as possible. We seek to understand a product's intent by identifying critical-to-function tolerances, and product specifications and features. We use these details to make an informed decision on choosing the best manufacturing processes to make your product.