Design Engineering
Showcase

Rheon Labs

Student
Higor Alves de Freitas
Team
Development Team
Supervisor
Dr Lorenzo Picinali/Dr Michel-Alexandre Cardin
Role
Junior Design Developer
Sector
Industrial Manufacturing

My placement at Rheon Labs has supported my professional and personal development by giving me a greater understanding of everything that happens between having CAD and having a final product: from strategic planning that has helped Rheon Labs through Covid-19, to the standards that need to be met before a product goes to market. In exchange, I have supplied endless enthusiasm and engagement in the projects I have been a part of, contributing significantly to development (revenue growth) and research projects (value growth) within the company.

Rheon Brand Video

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Value growth (processes, machinery, and data that can be used for future development work):

Early on, I did maintenance work on the first version of a Rheon pellet 3D printer. I quickly saw limitations with this machine and developed a pitch and project plan to convince the CTO to allow me to develop an improved version. Rheon Printer V2 is able to print parts 5x taller than the first version by reducing gantry weight and improving cooling and allows for the prototyping of simple extruded geometries. The printer is still in use for the few applications it’s relevant to. I quickly noticed the scarcity of these applications due to the limitations of FDM printing and worked on improving the prototyping capacity of the company by developing a soft-tooling solution that negates the need for expensive and energy-intensive metal printed tooling which is used to mould fewer than 10 parts. This reduces Rheon Labs’ spending on expensive development tooling and reduces a large portion of the company’s CO2 footprint.

 — Rheon Labs
Rheon Printer V2.

I co-lead a new development project relating to grip performance. This involved: Market research that validated both the venture as a whole and the client we are looking to work with was conducted and presented to the CEO; developing a new geometry which complies with the company’s IP requirements; using the soft tooling described above to injection mould parts to be tested; developing a state-of-the-art testing rig to test prototype grips; a design for experiments including planning, conducting, analysing and interpreting data; presenting this data and interpretations back to the CEO and the sales team to help improve their understanding of the story within the market and to arm them for client pitches.

 — Rheon Labs
Soft Tooling - reducing energy consumption during prototyping.

I learned and used VBA to code an interface that helps to document all of Rheon’s geometries including the new ones developed for the grip project. The format is easy to access and rank in terms of performance and will make future development work more efficient by removing the need to do the same work twice. Having a reference library to compare to also helps the design team to gain better understanding and control of the company’s visual identity.

 — Rheon Labs
Examples of Rheon Geometries.

Revenue growth (development work):

By learning to work independently, I have been able to alleviate the burden on other members of the development team and allow them to focus on planning and remaining proactive to big-picture issues that may arise. For example: designing and machining parts for machinery maintenance around the workshop allowed the workshop manager to spend more time planning and implementing processes that ensure that social distancing rules are being followed.

Role and Contributions

My role within Rheon Labs as a Junior Design Developer is broad and wide reaching. I have contributed in development and research projects from brief to production, including: Initial brief development and ideation; market research and reporting; complex computation design to produce tailor-made parts; concept visualisation; pitching these concepts to clients; tooling design and manufacture; short-run part production using injection moulding; test-rig design and machining; part testing for concept validation, QC and certification; data processing and interpretation; feeding back knowledge gained throughout this process to improve internal processes.

There have been many significant outcomes from my roles at Rheon, to list a few: Improvement of prototyping capacity by manufacturing a new Rheon 3D printer as well as exploring soft tooling; introduced a new sports sector with the grip project; made parts for a PPE glove which is now going into mass production; successfully pitched a new liner and prototyping plan to a large US-based helmet manufacturer; designed and manufactured a new test rig standard for grips, which will be used for future development work; contributed to quality management through rigorous testing as well as through the introduction of a new system to document Rheon's many geometries.

 — Rheon Labs
Target analysis for final production part.

Summary

Initially, my single ambition was to be able to follow a project through from its initial brief to a final part that I could hold and test. In retrospect, I have followed multiple projects through the initial brief to a physical part, and I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of everything that goes on in-between. Solving difficult problems has reinforced the feeling of being able to push boundaries within impossible time frames that Design Engineering first instilled in me.

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