Sean Thomas

All articles from the author


How to Design for Stiffness Using Material Properties

Improving part stiffness is critical for load bearing applications, and can be accomplished through both design geometry and material properties. In this article, we’ll employ many of the same formulas we discussed in our previous article about leveraging geometric structures to improve stiffness. However, here we’ll focus on material selection, altering the properties of materials […]


Threaded Locking Methods for Secure Connections

Threaded connections, such as bolts and nuts, are used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from plastic toys to massive bridges. The one similarity that ties them together is that these connections need to stay together when we want them to, but also come apart when needed. For example, the valve covers on an […]


How to Conduct a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

In the product design world, it’s common to use a tool called a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) to improve a design or process. FMEAs are commonly separated into two different categories, depending on their application: A Design FMEA (D-FMEA) is used in product design to identify possible design weaknesses and failure modes. A […]


How to Design for Stiffness Using a Geometric Approach

Designing products for load bearing applications can pose a multitude of challenges, so it’s important for a designer to have a “toolbox” of techniques that improve design quality. Designing for stiffness through geometric controls is a top tool in that box. Even the simplest designs can be sensitive to part stiffness: For example, if a […]


Best Practices for Adding Ribs and Gussets to 3D Printed Parts for Structural Integrity

When designing components that will be made of plastic, it’s often necessary to add ribs and gussets to improve the stiffness and strength of load bearing features. This reduces material volume and print time for 3D printed parts, compared to the time it would take to make these features out of solid structures. That’s because print […]