Date Visited: 13 December 1995
JTEC/WTEC Attendees: K. Narayanan (report author), P. Fussell
The JTEC/WTEC team was unable to tour the Omron plant, but the team was shown a video highlighting Omron's technology and market. The company has the vision of contributing to an optimized society of the 21st century. Since 1983, Omron continuously has introduced new products, starting with a photographic X-ray timer, non-proximity switches, relay, and the very first on-line cash dispenser, to name a few.
Omron provides products to public users (ATMs, traffic control systems, point of sales); office users (work stations, peripherals); and home users (finger-insertion blood pressure gauges, electronic thermometers).
Omron's main goal is to shorten the research period to development with higher-quality design and products. Omron is implementing concurrent engineering, CAD, FEM, innovative tool design, and rapid prototyping to achieve this goal. For small complicated relays, checking 3D design early and prototyping can save more than 50% of time.
3D 2D PRO/E CAD/CAM Product Design Design & Make Tool
Omron buys SLA 250 resin from INCS. In response to the question, "Did you investigate other resins?" Omron representatives replied that they found equivalency among resin machines in accuracy of parts (relay) as well as price. INCS was chosen for its ability to provide engineering support. Omron used PRO/E and INCS had the same, which enabled easy installation and run-off. Management did look at DTM but found it inadequate.
Less than 50 micron accuracy is needed for small relays, but for items like cash registers, 200 micron accuracy is OK, and SLA delivers 100 microns. Resin parts are built in 0.1-0.15 mm layers, and beam offset is the primary method for fine-tuning.
Pro/Engineer is Omron's software choice. Omron designers now have 3 years of experience; even so, Omron management sees the company's greatest limitations to be their engineers' limited 3D CAD experience and their need to verify and customize the software. The company representatives observed that software needs to be easier for design and tool engineers to use.
The team's hosts predicted that in 5 years rapid machining will dominate, while rapid prototype will incrementally advance and continue to be restricted for design use.