One for all you engineers

  gengiscant 15:16 PM 27 Nov 11

I was watching How its Made on TV and got to thinking who designs and builds the machines that actually make an item. Sometimes when watching this program I am more interested in how the complicated machinery came about rather than the item itself. Anyone who has seen this program will know that some of these machines are massive and do a variety of jobs.

So how does it work, I invent something that is successful but required several manufacturing processes to get it to the finished article, do I then have to wait for someone else to come along to make a machine that will simplify the process or are there companies out there who's job it is to design and build machines etc to make my invention?

  Aitchbee 15:41 PM 27 Nov 11

Galileo Galilei, allegedly, invented the telescope, the parachute, and early versions of the helicopter...or was it Leonardo?

  Forum Editor 15:52 PM 27 Nov 11

Machines are designed and built by electrical and mechanical design engineers. If you invent something you will ideally try to patent it, and that is a whole different, and complex, subject. You can patent a device, or an industrial process, and once you have your patent you can get a manufacturer to make it to order, so you can supply it to the market, or you can sell the manufacturing rights, so the maker gets to sell the product into the wholesale market.

The manufacturer's job is to develop a process for making your invention, and that may include designing and making manufacturing machinery. Devising machines and machine tools that make and/or assemble components for mass production runs is in itself a highly complex and skilled business, and may also involve patented devices and processes.

When he retired from a life in the RAF my father became a director of a company that manufactured life-saving equipment for military and commercial aircraft and ships, and his special responsibility was patents. I remember him explaining how complex, and how fraught with pitfalls the whole business could be.

  Forum Editor 16:01 PM 27 Nov 11


Hans Lippershey (a Dutchman) was the first person to patent the telescope, not Galileo, although he improved and developed the idea.

Leonardo Da Vinci certainly sketched an idea for a parachute, but he didn't make or test it. The real 'inventor' was probably Sebastien Lenormand, who actually made and demonstrated the first proper parachute.

Leonardo also drew what might be termed a helicopter, but he had no idea of how to make it work. The first true, working helicopter was made and flown by a Slovac called Jon Bahyl in 1905.

None of which has anything at all to do with genciscant's question.

  Aitchbee 16:11 PM 27 Nov 11

Thanks FE - your knowledge is worth sharing.

  gengiscant 16:37 PM 27 Nov 11

My question is purely rhetorical, I have not invented anything so the info on actually patenting it is not really helpful.But I am a bit closer to an answer with the mention of electrical and mechanical design engineers, something, at least, to enter in to Google I think.

  carver 16:40 PM 27 Nov 11

If you can invent, design and build a product then you can get a firm to make a machine that may simplify the making or building of that invention.

You have shown that by building your invention and making it work that it is possible to make it and therefor you have got over the first hurdle.

When I was in engineering part of my job was to make machine tools, but I couldn't make the tool until some one else had thought up the idea for the product.

You can't design a machine to make something that hasn't been invented.

  Forum Editor 16:41 PM 27 Nov 11

These people

Would help you on your way, should you ever come up with that unique product - the one that everyone wants.

  wiz-king 17:01 PM 27 Nov 11

First you need to break down your process into single steps. Then go to a machine tool company with the list to see what they can offer from stock, most engineering jobs can be done using machines that can do multiple jobs by changing tool heads eg drilling, screw-cutting and other machining jobs.

I have an Italian made bottling machine that takes 30ml glass bottles out of trays, places the bottles on a conveyor belt then feeds them under a filling station where a filling needle fills the liquid into the bottle dipping to the bottom of the bottle and rising up as the bottle is filled from the bottom to prevent foaming of the liquid. The bottle then goes to the capping station where a atomiser spray cap is fed from a vibrating cone feeder and dropped into the bottle. This feeder is a cone with rails on the inside which as the cone (about 1/2 a metre in diameter )vibrates cause the atomisers to align themselves cap down and travel up the sides of the cone and along the feed rails to the machine where they are turned the correct way to be dropped into the bottles. The capped bottles go under a crimping head which crimps the cap to the neck of the bottles, then it's on the next stage that places a dust cap on the top of the bottle again from a vibrating cone (bigger this time) that sorts out the caps so they are the correct way up and feed them to the placer that puts them on the bottles. They the go past a labelling head that prints the batch number and expiry date on a pre-printed label and wraps it around the bottle. The final part of the process is to slide on a clear plastic sleeve over the bottle and to pass it through a hot air tunnel.

All this is done at the rate of 500 bottles an hour on a machine that is about 3 metres square, with one conveyor belt passing around a big turntable. It's very 'clever' and has lots of sensors and turns its self off if it has a problem or if any bottles don't get the correct amount of liquid. Mind you it is a pain if it has a bad day!

  Aitchbee 17:32 PM 27 Nov 11

wiz-king:- these lines from Captain Beefheart's TROUT MASK REPLICA came to mind:

The old fart inside was now breathin' freely From his perfume bottle atomizer air bulb invention

His excited eyes from within the dark interior glazed; watered in appreciation of his thoughtful preparation.


  Picklefactory 18:00 PM 27 Nov 11

gengistcant We mass produce fluid transfer pumps from our own designs, machine tool manufacture of the major component parts and then assembly and test. We are more and more turning to auto assembly options for complex parts. There are numerous companies who specialise in design and manufacture of auto assy machines. We, as the manufacturer, will plan the assembly process in great detail, then put that out to various companies to quote and propose machinery/equipment/robots/plc controls etc that they will recommend to achieve the desired result. It is a long and minutely detailed procedure to go through each proposal to ensure they have captured every requirement, and the last complex assembly cell we installed took about two years to plan and manufacture. I visited one such supplier to look at some proposals and they were almost finished making a machine for somebody that inserted the blades into the plastic housing of disposal razors. It was fascinating, entirely mechanical, and synchronised by a complex cam system and churned out about 1 head per second with a stream of tiny parts travelling along a range of tracks like a little blue colony of ants.


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