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Designing From Example

A few months ago, a group from work gathered for one of those evening paint classes I’m sure you are familiar with. An instructor takes the group through the process of painting an image, going step by step through the brushstrokes and paint mixing. Although the color choices, spacing, and shaping were unique, in the end, we all had paintings of an owl on a branch in the moonlight.

Contrast that with another recent art project, this time with my kids. They were given several tubs of Play-Doh with pictures of colorful sculpture examples displayed on the packaging—a butterfly, a clown, a flower. After studying the pictures, they came up with their own creations. The butterfly turned into a purple and red lady bug and the clown turned into a snowman with a pointy hat.

Both these adventures in art remind me of the design and engineering process for manufacturing a part.

Step-by-step instructions, rules of thumb, design guidelines, and protocols help you achieve the function of your parts. Examples and case studies show what has already been achieved, so you can make the connection to how it may be applied to your own project.

In this issue of MCDP, we’ve focused on examples. Check out what other designers are doing to achieve their goals for reduced lead time, improved quality, and decreased costs:
•  In the Design Details column on page 20, an aluminum crankcase assembly provided part consolidation, short lead times and part consolidation by combining 3-D printing with low pressure sand casting.
•    In the feature article, “Cast in Place: Integrating Non-Cast Components Into Castings,” on page 28, collaboration between a turbine manufacturer and metal casting supplier resulted in a cast solution that improved part consistency and reduced total cost.
•    The article on page 32, “3-D Technologies Ease Replacement Part Challenges,” is about a project that was specifically launched in order to be a case study for how additive manufacturing and advanced manufacturing practices can increase throughput and reduce cost.
•    Finally, in the Casting Innovation on page 49, “Casting Simulation Helps Part Conversion,”  a marine exhaust housing was successfully converted from another process with the aid of casting process simulation to design a new gating system.

Even though you may not be designing for any of the alloys or end-uses in these case studies, the decision-making process may spark an idea for your own project. Or maybe you have been toying with using additive manufacturing for prototyping but don’t have any experience. Studying case studies and examples opens new possibilities.

Alternatively, when you have completed a successful project, sharing the results with the casting design community may spur the next great design or solution.

Keep creating, and enjoy the case studies in MCDP.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July/August 2017 issue of MCDP


Know the Updates to Patent Law

From time to time, foundries, foundry suppliers, and casting end-users develop inventions for which they seek patent protection. This could include a new austempered ductile iron composition, a casting made from that composition, a method of making that composition, or a novel molding machine.  While these are a few examples, the limits of the invention are constrained only by what the inventor can dream of.  If you or your company apply for U.S. patents, this column will serve as a brief review of some considerations of U.S. law that have changed in the past few years. The following law changes should be kept in mind prior to and during the patent application process.

As of March 2013, the America Invents Act (AIA) legislated some important changes to the patent law, and patent applicants need to be aware of these changes to more effectively apply for U.S. patents.  Perhaps the most significant change from the AIA is the U.S. moved from a “first to invent” regime to a “first inventor to file” regime.  Simply put, an applicant can no longer gain rights over a later applicant for the same invention by proving that she invented the device first.  Now, the inventor must be first to file, and this encourages inventors to file patent applications early in the process to help ensure that patent rights are maintained over your competitors who may be working on similar inventions.

“Prior art” is a term that refers to patent documents and other disclosures that can be used to defeat a patent application. The prior art available to a patent examiner during the patent examination process in the U.S. is defined by law. One challenge for patent applicants is to identify applicable prior art and thus avoid overlooking potentially fatal prior art. The AIA changed fundamental assumptions defining what will and will not be considered prior art under U.S. law. For example, public disclosures anywhere in the world in any language before your patent application filing date may be considered prior art. In other words, the new definitions remove geographic and language restrictions on prior art and will greatly expand in view of U.S. law what now may be considered prior art. This can add significant hurdles to an applicant because of the large amount of information available to us in many different languages. For example, patent applicants and even patent search experts may have difficulty finding and interpreting patent documents from the Far East that are written in symbolic character languages.

Beneficially for patent applicants, commonly assigned patent applications and subject matter developed under joint research agreements can be used to eliminate some prior art. Under the AIA rules, patents and inventions assigned to a single company can be disregarded as prior art if the invention described in a patent application is assigned to the same company. The same is true for joint research agreements. In one example, if a U.S. patent examiner cites the patent of Company A as prior art against a later Company A patent application, that patent reference can be disregarded under the principle of common assignment.

Here are some suggestions that might improve your or your company’s application process in light of the recent changes in U.S. patent law:
•      Develop company-wide employment agreements, employee handbooks and company policies that require employees to promptly report inventions to the company. The employment agreements and employee handbooks should provide that inventions are automatically assigned to the company.
•      Develop a company strategy to promptly review all employee inventions for commercial value. For those inventions determined to have value, promptly decide how to protect the invention (trade secret, patent or copyright). For inventions that the company decides to protect through patenting, develop a procedure to promptly file a patent application.
•      Develop company forms and policies requiring visitors and other members of the public to sign non-disclosure agreements as a condition for entering company premises where an unprotected invention may be in use.
•      Train employees on the importance of not using any invention in any setting that could be considered public until a patent application is filed for the invention.
•      Train employees of the importance of not marketing or accepting orders for a product incorporating an invention until a patent application is filed for the invention.
•      Train employees about the importance of not disclosing an invention, either in writing or verbally, until a patent application is filed.

Additionally, it is best practice to not consider “disclosure” in the AIA as replacing a patent application filing; publishing is not a substitute for filing to obtain a strong patent position on the invention. An inventor or engineer who has publicly disclosed an invention should file a patent application promptly or, better yet, before disclosure because a mere public disclosure will never provide an effective filing date. In contrast, an earlier patent application filing date protects against competitors filing patent applications for similar or the same inventions later. Furthermore, disclosure before filing may be fatal with respect to international patent rights.   

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July/August 2017 issue of MCDP

 


Feeling Smart

The premise of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves is that how we manage our feelings in various situations is a better indicator of our professional success than IQ.

Everyone who purchases the book can use a code to take an online test to see how high their emotional intelligence score is. I will admit my score was much lower than my ego thought it would be.

What is emotional intelligence? According to the authors, it is the “communication between your emotional and rational brains.” This link was discovered when researchers set out to find out why people with high IQs outperformed those with average IQs 20% of the time and people with average IQs outperformed those with high IQs 70% of the time. 

Emotional intelligence guides how we react to stress, problem solve, network, work on a team, manage projects, and communicate. The better we do all those things, the better we will be in our jobs.

The book, which is billed as a tool to increase EQ, lists four main skills of someone with a high EQ. This includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. After you take the online test, you are given a score for each of these skills, along with an overall score. The online test will suggest which skill to work on first, based on your scores, and provide some strategies to achieve the goal.

The full book also outlines strategies to improve the four skills of emotional intelligence, but the additional resources gained by taking the online test is valuable. The authors urge readers to focus on one skill to improve at first, so the personalized suggestion for which one to start on first is helpful for someone who wants to start boosting their EQ immediately.

After working on your EQ using the strategies given in the book, the reader is invited to take the online test again to see how they improved. If you scored low at first, there’s hope—Bradberry and Greaves assure us that unlike IQ, EQ can be strengthened and increased with time, patience and practice.

“Research conducted at the business school at the University of Queensland in Australia discovered that people who are low in EQ and job performance can match their colleagues who excel in both—solely by working to improve their EQ,” the authors wrote.

“Emotional Intelligence 2.0” is a quick read. Some of the 66 strategies to improve your EQ seem almost too obvious, but at least they are simple to apply. If you do pick up the book, don’t skip the online test. It is eye opening to see where you actually stand and motivation to start applying your EQ strategies immediately.   

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July 2017 issue of Modern Casting

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