Product Designers Listen Up!!! Are you working on a product that could benefit from choosing the correct coupler or fitting? I’ll bet you had not even thought about that question, but if your new product has air or fluid as part of the process then you better stop right now and think about this topic before it is too late.
Now that I have you questioning your whole design process, you can sit back read this short blog to help you with knowing that you are not alone in waiting too long to consider the couplers and fittings. Actually I am going to need to narrow our field of discussion, just so my blog is not too long to enjoy a few tid-bits of my thoughts. The open topic of ALL fittings and ALL couplers is too big for a blog.
For this blog, I am going to narrow our discussion to a type of connection called a quick coupler. This is a fast and repeatable way to connect and disconnect a single, or multiple, fluid or air/gas lines when the connection must be made quickly or repetitively.
Why do you think the fluidic and air connections are the last thing designers think of when designing a new product? Is it because they are not sexy, are usually a fairly low cost item, or because designers think that like electrical wiring you just pick what is standard and move on. Oh, no my friends, many of the applications I have worked on over the last few years were a big benefit to the designer and can make your product easier to use and more efficient. Maybe it was because I made it easy to specify the couplers and fittings or maybe they just like outsourcing this type of specification. Either way it can make your life much easier.
Maybe you don’t know if a standard product or a custom fabrication fits your application. You don’t know if it is better to use a metal or plastic fitting or coupler. Maybe a heat formed shape or a dip molded product is best. We can help you with those decisions because many of our top manufacturers make custom products if a standard one does not fit your application.
Let’s say your application is a medical device, a topic I have specified couplers in many applications, and you need a way to quickly connect an air or fluidic line and you have no idea what it even takes to narrow down what type to use. Here are a few are a few guidelines my friends at Colder Products Company (www.cpcworldwide.com) in St. Paul, Minnesota use to narrow the selection of the couplers. The things you must be able to answer for the experts are the following:
• What type of media is being conveyed?
• What pressure minimum and maximum are going to be used?
• What is the minimum and maximum temperature the coupler will be used at?
• What is the maximum flow of the media?
• What types of connections are required?
• What options do you need for shut offs?
• What mounting options would be used or is this an in-line coupler?
• Any special requirements or approvals?
If in fact you are designing a medical device there is a Whitepaper (Critical steps in selecting fluid connectors) that my go to guy, Jim Brown, has written to help in four areas that medical manufacturers deal with;
• Consider Safety needs
• Define the functional needs (see list above)
• Consider enhanced connector functions
• Match materials to the application
With these few simple thoughts, it will open up your design process to a world of possibilities whether you choose a standard configuration or go down the path of a custom product your product will certainly have the right connection that will please your end customer.
I promise if you call an expert you trust, like the RG Group, we will help you shorten your time to market, lower your costs and work with you to specify the product you need.
Steve Reynolds Manager
Allegheny Fluid Power
Division of the RG GROUP