The company partners with customers to create components ranging from dishwasher handles to oven vent trim that are durable and attractive. “We try to get involved as early as possible with OEMs and work with their designers and marketing team to give them the look they want,” says Dave Phillips, lead engineer for custom products at Mar-Bal.

Phillips teamed with industrial designers and engineers at Whirlpool a couple years ago on a new control panel for ovens. The appliance manufacturer provided a part model and 2D design for Phillips to review. He did a complete design for manufacturing (DFM) analysis, considering such issues as whether the part could be molded, if it required any special features and where it should attach to the oven. Phillips offered a handful of design suggestions, including a modification that would allow the same control panel to be used for both gas and electric oven models, which would save Whirlpool time and money in tooling and changeovers.

Collaborating also ensures that companies capitalize on the particular areas of expertise that each party brings to the table. This is especially important for Kreysler & Associates, which does a lot of projects in the construction industry.

“No composite engineers are experts in building codes and in the complexity of integrating a variety of systems into a single building,” says Kreysler. “Likewise, there’s no civil or structural engineers in the construction industry who are experts in optimizing composite materials for a particular application.”

Success depends upon a meeting of the minds. “We live in two different worlds in terms of composites and construction,” says Brent Hanlon, a professional engineer with Martin/Martin who has worked with Kreysler & Associates on several projects. “Ultimately, it takes a team approach to build something.”

Hanlon consulted with Kreysler on the Curbside Pickup Pod. “They had already done most of the problem solving, then we provided the necessary backup calculations and told them what changes would be required to get approval from the local building department,” says Hanlon. “When dealing with alternative materials, building departments and engineers get a little squeamish. That’s where we can be valuable, step up to bat and talk the same language as the code official.”

Brad Doudican in Australia

Brad Doudican, right, president of Advantic LLC, has made several trips to Australia to collaborate with his customer, Stephen Foley, senior civil and structural engineering advisor with Newmont Mining Company.