Configurable Components Cut Costs

By Michael Jermann, Assistant Editor

RND (formerly known as Aidlin Automation) was one of the first adopters of the Autodesk Inventor 3D CAD design package back in 1999. Since that time, the company has continued to look for new ways to streamline its design and engineering processes to improve its own efficiency and productivity and bring products to customers faster.

That’s how RND came to consider using configurable components for commonly used machine hardware and discrete parts. “Configurable” refers to mechanical parts that can be specified to the precise dimensions required within tight tolerances. Many types of components are also available in various materials and finishes, and some suppliers allow for specific tooling modifications or machining options. For many machine builders like RND, using configurable components has proven to be a more practical and affordable alternative to producing frequently used components in-house or sourcing out to local machine shops.


This automated machine feeds and measures the concentricity of a hollow stainless steel medical device tube, and then straightens the tube to within a 0.002-in. tolerance for use in arthroscopic surgeries.

In one case alone, RND saved over $500 in set-up fees for a single configured part that the company was able to quickly source from an external supplier and modify slightly in-house.

For the past few years, RND Automation has ordered its configurable components from MISUMI USA. The recommendation came from a customer who ordered an automated machine that applied adhesive tape to an inkjet printer cartridge.

Today, RND incorporates numerous MISUMI components into virtually all of its machinery. Most of the custom designs use precisely machined angles, gusset plates, threaded and tapped standoffs, linear shafts and bearings, and each part is unique to that particular machine design.

Product availability and short delivery times are key issues, as well. “With MISUMI’s short lead times and many items available in-stock, we can configure the parts, download native CAD drawings and order the parts, all online, and receive them in a matter of days. Fast turnaround time gives us a real competitive edge in the custom machinery business.”

One example of how RND Automation engineers work with customers is evident in its design approach for a complex automated valve assembly machine. The team worked closely with the customer to determine the machine’s sequence of operation. In selecting the components, which included motors, actuators and robots, machine testing and uptime had to be taken into account.

Using Autodesk Inventor, the paths and envelopes of the robots were animated to show the operation of each station. Only after approval of every station was secured was the design finalized and parts ordered for assembling the multi-functional machine. Simultaneously, RND’s electrical control group was busy designing the electrical enclosure, as well as programming the PLC, robots and machine control touchscreens.


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