Electric and electronic product manufacturer.

Products Development Dept.Manager Mr. Toshiaki Ogawa, Products Planning Dept.Specialist Mr. Masahiro Kobayashi.

TopSolid'Mold Production Div.Mr. Kazunori Matsuo.

Address: 2084-2, Nishi Ohta, Yoshida Machi,
Nishi Kanbara Gun, Niigata 959-0292
Phone: +81-256-92-6160
Fax: +81-256-92-7521
Web site: http://www.twinbird.jp/en/index.html
Staff: 360
Activity: Electric and electronic product manufacturer.

Digital Manufacturing Innovation with TopSolid

TWINBIRD CORPORATION, considering “the development which provides impression and comfort” as the idea of management, develops and sells products which cover a wide range, like home appliances, lighting equipment, outdoor products, health equipment, and gift products which are related to the human life. In home appliances industry, where the major companies compete each other vigorously, this company regards itself as a maker who plans, develops, and provides “the original products” and this company plans and develops the products that we can use safely and comfortably.

Winning “the third New Business Prize” in 1992 for his way of management that uses not only the computer network, but also the human network whose core is an interchange of personnel, this company develops the innovative management. This company introduced 3D CAD system, TopSolid and its applications that Missler Software developed in France and KODAMA Corporation distributed in Japan to organize a new environment for development.

Benefit brought by TopSolid

They introduced TopSolid and TopSolid'Mold into their company. They were able to cost of the mold by 25% by designing the whole mold structure in 3D. They reduced the prototyping lead time from two weeks to five days, and they were able to cut the prototyping cost by half.

By reducing the lead time of the development, they became even more competitive in the market.

They designed all the parts in 3D for their product called "Jet Cyclone TC-D444MN", which is a stick type cordless vaccum cleaner. They reduced the whole designing lead time from about 45 days to 30 days. By being able to introduce the new product at the right timing, they received number of orders exceeding their expectation, and contributed greatly to the increase of overall sales for the company.

Development system corresponding to the needs timely

This company, working on the speeding up from the product development to the manufacture, has the factories for prototypes, for mold base, for forming, for assembly. They organize a flexible and powerful production system, by teaching the techniques to the domestic and overseas cooperative factories. On the company website, they have an area where the monitors of new products can exchange opinions with the responsible for development, so that the voice of consumer can influence directly the development of new products.

It was in 1991 that they introduced 3D CAD system for the first time, they introduced 3D surface CAD system in the prototype department. Though it was useful for the modeling of appearance design, the additional introduction of 3D CAD system was put off as it was difficult to create boss and ribs which support the back of parts and it took a lot of time to learn the manipulations.

In 1996, to shorten the development lead time, they thought over the introduction of solid CAD system which had started to be popular step by step at the time. Mr.Kobayashi, in the prototype Dept, remembers that “the merit of solid CAD was to make it easy to create a modeling of fillet, boss, ribs and the draft angle. Particularly in TopSolid, the integration from designing to machining such as mold designing and CAM has been developed. This is why we introduced TopSolid.” They introduced TopSolid both in the product design Dept and in the prototype Dept in 1997, and introduced TopSolid'Mold, the system supporting for the 3D solid mold base designing, and TopSolid'Cam supporting for the milling-machine, in the mold base Dept in 1999.

Designing 90 development models a year with TopSolid

As they had only the experience with 2D CAD, when TopSolid was introduced in TWINBIRD CORPORATION, almost all the designers felt anxious about the operation of 3D CAD. But seminars and the training guides for the private study provided by KODAMA made all of 10 designers enable to operate TopSolid. Mr.Kobayashi said, “the new employees with no experience with CAD could reach the practical level after studying it in two weeks. I recognized its easy operability”.

This company puts 60 models of new product on the market a year. It means that at least 1 new product is put on the market a week. 90 models are designed a year with TopSolid, including the products whose sales are put off. They develop about twice as many items as they did with only 2D CAD, thought the number of staffs is same. "Jet Cyclone TC-D444MN" which was a stick type rechargeable cleaner was sold in January 2001. This was the first product whose parts are all designed with 3D CAD for the first time. They have used TopSolid to develop all the new products, for example the improved Jet Cyclone "TC-D777MW", water-proof CD-player "AV-J149BL", and water-proof liquid crystal television "VL-J551".

With TopSolid, we can design several parts in one file. Therefore it is possible to make models efficiently, using a 2D drawing of image design and referring to the neighbor parts. The generated 3D data is sent into the laminating molding machine in the company and then the prototype is generated. Before, they used to order for the prototype from several makers, but these makers usually delivered them separately. Therefore they need to wait for the arrival of all the prototypes for putting them together and testing them. In this case, they couldn’t change the design smoothly. Also because they used to order them with the drawings, they couldn’t express the design image to the prototype makers, so it often happened that they had to remake them. As the speed is required in this company, it is necessary to solve the problem of deta modification and machining cost and time immediately.

After introducing TopSolid, they made design and modeling of all products and all parts in 3D in this company. The introduction of TopSolid allows the users to check the collision, which is not available in 2D design, and they make the stresses analysis with CAE to improve the quality of design. They could save the time and the cost as they didn't have to remake the prototypes. Because they order prototypes after checking the design image of 3D data by designers. Making the prototypes took 2 weeks at the outsourcing makers, but 5 days in the company, a sharp cut of time was done. In addition, the introduction of the molding machine made it possible to machine the parts which were modeled consecutively and they could get the prototypes in 2 days. They could examine any other improvement for each parts and they could improve quickly before the arrival of all parts. The molding machine worked 650 hours a month, they could reduce the cost of prototype to half. “ I’m more impressed when a prototype is completed than when a product is completed with mold", said Mr.Ogawa, in the product development dept. This prototype is delivered to the selling bases all over the country, and the retail dealers and the consumers evaluate it finally, by looking and touching it.

Mold creation by using the product data fully

As soon as the development dept and the sales dept, and customers evaluate a prototype and order the mold base, they make the flow analysis immediately, taking account of the number of parts and start to manufacture the mold base. In 3D data created in the product design dept and the prototype dept, as the items required for forming such as draft angle is already defined, we can start mold designing immediately after specifying the shrinkage rate. After introducing TopSolid'Mold, they didn't make any mistake in parting surface designing. In 2D main designing, after designing mold mechanism and creating the components drawing, they made 3D data of parting surface for cavity and core separately. Because the 3D data of cavity and core had been generated separately, it often happened that these parting surfaces didn't match together after machining. Since they started 3D designing with TopSolid'Mold, it was possible to define the parting surface, the die matching parts and the slide core part from the 3D data of product at the stage of mold mechanism designing. From this data, they could create the drawing of parts, BOM, and ISO-data directly so that they didn't make designing mistake of parting surface anymore.

The drawing is indispensable when giving the work instruction. TopSolid and TopSolid'Mold have a powerful functionality in 2D designing and drawing though they are 3D CAD system. 3D data (mold) and 2D drawing (mold drawing, part drawing, BOM) are linked together. In drawing creation, this drawing function is so useful that they could reduce the designing time. "The introduction of TopSolid shortened the lead-time of the mold base at least by as much as 30 percent. Hereafter, we use TopSolid'Cam more efficiently to develop to automate the ISO-data creation for mold plate machining and we want to pursue the further efficiency and the higher quality” says Mr.Matsuo, of the manufacture dept.

Practical use of the new refrigerating system, FPSC

This company succeeded in developing a small-sized Free Piston Sterling Cooler (FPSC) in June 2002 for the first time all over the world. They could sell the semiconducting electronic cooler-heater box in 1989 for the first time in Japan. They have introduced the techniques from Global Cooling Co.,Ltd (Holland) and have aimed at the practical use of FPSC since 1998. FPSC can cool down to low temperature more quickly than the former method with a compressor or a semiconductor. Small-sized and light-weight, it has as characteristics the precise temperature control by a linear motor which can correspond to the all power sources, and the energy-saving. They will first develop the usage of FPSC mainly for business use, for example a small-sized refrigerator and a water cooler for business use, and then find a new market in the products for life, to which FPSC can be applied, for example a cooler box for car and a small-sized refrigerator for leisure. TopSolid will be also used in developing these products.

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