SolidWorks Helps TiLite Wheelchairs Save $400,000 a Year
SolidWorks Drives Custom 3D CAD Models, Helping the Company Outperform Competition
CONCORD, Mass., USA, Nov. 9, 2009 – The maker of the world’s highest-performing wheelchairs has also brought exceptional efficiency to its design studio and shop floor, using SolidWorks® CAD software to save an estimated $400,000 per year over traditional methods.
TiLite, of Kennewick, Wash., automates the design of its custom titanium wheelchairs using SolidWorks, CAMWorks® CAM software, and specialization in the assembly stage. These measures produce superior-performing chairs fitted to each client as snugly as a knee brace.
“Without SolidWorks we wouldn’t have achieved the success we have,” said TiLite Vice President of Engineering Alan Ludovici. “We save about $400,000 a year by automating our designs, documentation, and part creation instead of paying 100 skilled craftsmen to draw designs up from scratch and cut every tube.”
TiLite makes wheelchairs for everyday use and sports like basketball and tennis. Most have titanium frames, making them lighter, faster, and easier to propel than twice-as-heavy steel chairs. Performance is as vital to everyday users as it is to athletes, since propelling a chair inevitably wears down shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints.
Highly trained TiLite sales consultants configure wheelchair specifications based on each client’s size, shape, weight, disability profile, activity patterns, and taste. SolidWorks automatically produces custom chair and manufacturing drawings. The data is fed into CAMWorks, a SolidWorks Certified Gold partner product, which helps automate cut lengths of titanium tubing. TiLite delivers chairs within two weeks but can turn one around in a day if necessary. According to Ludovici, It would take twice as long without design automation.
"We’re like the shops that make high-end motorcycles to order,” Ludovici said. “The difference, however, is that every chair is completely documented as a SolidWorks model, meaning if it’s lost or stolen, we can clone you a new one in a couple of days. SolidWorks documentation also enables us to be FDA-compliant in our custom work, which is a rarity in the industry.”
TiLite uses SolidWorks Simulation Professional software to help make TiLite chairs safer, lighter, and more affordable. For example, Ludovici’s team recently discovered aluminum footrests were prone to overheating and developing sharp edges. The team virtually prototyped injection-molded composite replacements, validated the design with the help of SolidWorks Simulation, and saved $11 per chair in materials costs.
Elite wheelchair tennis player Ronald Vink of the Netherlands used a TiLite to reach the doubles finals at September’s US Open and win two Wimbledons previously. “I need to get to the ball fast, stop on a dime, then chase down the next ball,” he said. “TiLites are the quickest, most comfortable, and most agile chairs I’ve ever used. I definitely have the edge.”
TiLite relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller Quest Integration for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.
About Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
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