Designing for Zero Assembly

FlexSys technology has demonstrated many ways that it is possible to replace common types of complex multi-part mechanisms with compliant single body (or "monoform") devices that ideally require no assembly at all. A typical candidate for consideration is a device comprised of a number of parts that perform some sort of tension/release action in the normal performance of its purpose. In a conventional mechanism the motion and tension are accommodated by rigid links with various joints that are pinned together and may even require regular lubrication. Assembly is often time consuming and frequently comprises the largest single cost of producing the product.

A comparable compliant monoform mechanism requires little or no assembly, usually fits within the same or a more convenient footprint, and typically performs more smoothly without jamming or otherwise failure. A monoform design that replaces a product currently requiring substantial assembly often provides opportunities to improve the product’s performance and can typically be manufactured at a substantially reduced cost.

Here are a few examples of commonplace products that FlexSys researchers have considered for part reduction study. As you can see, some of these innovative designs produce a specimen with at least a reduced part count, and some can be developed as a complete monoform product.

Windshield Wiper

The highly complex assembly of parts, springs and joints involved in a conventional windshield wiper could be replaced with a single-piece “monoform” wiper capable of the same function but with only a single component part!

U.S. US Patents 6,301,742 B1, 7,360,272 and International patents issued.

One-piece Directional Mirror

FlexSys redesigned the mount and control mechanism for a conventional automotive side view mirror to cut the number of parts in half and reduce the packed volume by 30%.

Accomplishing this task required the use of project specific and traditional design tools.

Compliant Stapler

A hand-held tools such as a stapler may be fabricated at a variety of scales to replace the part-count of a conventional stapler with a reduced part-count alternative.

One-piece Mechanical Pencil

In concept, a multi-part mechanical pencil may be replaced by a minimal part-count alternative including its spring, collet and pocket clasp.