3 of the Biggest Misconceptions About Flex Arm Product Design
As a third-generation family business, we like to think that we know our way around flex arm product design. As part of our job, we field questions all the time from product designers and engineers who would like to know more about integrating a flex arm into their device. In all those questions we’ve noticed just a few pre-conceived notions that seem to surround flex arms.
While there’s no shame in not knowing these things, we thought it might be fun (and educational) to dispel some of the more common myths we hear while addressing those questions. Here are three big ideas for you to chew on.
Flex Arm Product Design Myth #1 Flex Arms are not durable
One of the worst myths about Flex Arm Product Design that we have to combat is that flex arms aren’t durable. It’s simply not true. Poorly designed flex arms aren’t durable. That’s why we take so much time with each component to get it exactly right. One way we improve durability is through coverings. While sometimes an overlooked part of the design process, here’s why deciding on a covering is about more than just aesthetics — and why your potential flex am provider needs to address this.
Many folks think that a covering is a “finish” or decorative feature. It’s not. Your covering is one of the most vital components of your flex arm because it seals the arm from lubricants. Something to think about: Your flex arm is fundamentally a friction device. That means that lubricants are the enemy of consistency and reliability. If your flex arm isn’t properly sealed, you’ll end up paying for it in the long run. Having a great seal means increased durability.
When talking to potential flex arm sources, we recommend our customers ask about their covering, strain relief, and fitting technologies. If they can’t answer those questions it either means that they haven’t thought about flex arm product design or worse — that they don’t have a solution for you. Conversely, if they can speak about these items with some degree of authority, you know that they’ve considered the problem before you have. That’s a vital component in a design partnership. You want someone who’s been there and done that, not someone who is using your device to test out the kinks in their process.
Flex Arm Product Design Myth #2 Flex Arms aren’t customizable.
There are an almost limitless variety of ways your flex arm can be customized. A good flex arm provider should be able to provide the capability to utilize CNC fittings, die castings, or stamped components. They should be able to give you the option for plated or powder-coated finishes. That said, the most important part of customization is communication. That’s right. Speaking to your flex arm expert will allow them the opportunity to create what you need to reach your goals and excite your customers
C-clamps, magnets, quick-couplers, and weighted bases can each have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on what you need your device to do. Thinking about these options may help you decide on what you need while still in the design phase, but often telling your flex arm provider what sort of functionality you’ll need will allow them to guide you through the options. Collaborating on this process can lead to true innovation for mounting your flex arm.
We’ve seen it all. Better doesn’t always mean more expensive. We’ve seen great coverings that are as simple as PVC or polyolefin, or as complex as fluoropolymers, neoprene, or even autoclavable silicones. Boy, that’s a mouthful. Try saying saying “autoclavable silicones” five times fast. We dare you. Remember when we said how essential coverings are? This is where customizability can really be your friend. No matter your need, there’s a material out there that will protect your flex arm and get the job done. Remember, your arm is only as strong as its weakest link.
Flex Arm Product Design Myth #3 Flex Arms are too expensive
Often flex arms are overlooked in designs because they might initially seem too expensive. While that can be the case sometimes, there are ways that most flex arms can come at a reasonable cost for your device.
Plan ahead for volume
Work with your flex arm specialist to estimate usage volume. With that detailed picture, they’ll be able to quote a range of production quantities which can keep costs down. Often, they can do things like blanket orders and purchasing agreements to increase the run size and drive costs down.
Standard pieces for custom designs
Obviously, a custom piece will run the cost per item up a bit. Here’s the thing, often standard components will work well even in custom designs. It’s important to find a flex arm vendor that has a large array of components to choose from. They can keep costs down by buying in larger volumes for multiple customers. While your device is custom, it doesn’t mean that your flex arm has to be.
Flex arms may already be cheaper than your alternatives
For the money, flex arms are often a less expensive option than a lot of their alternatives. A properly selected and designed flex arm can often replace more expensive support systems like counterbalanced arms. Integrating them into your designs can help keep that price point closer to where you need it to be.
Want to learn more? Let’s chat!
So there you have it. Three big myths dispelled. Want to learn more? We’d love to hear from you. As a three-generation, family-owned business, Moffatt takes pride in making the best flex arms on the planet. From our humble beginnings in our own garage to working with multi-million dollar medical technology companies, there’s one common theme in our story — quality and reliability.
We’re not satisfied with making a good product, we want to make the best product. Today our flex arms are used in hundreds of applications from ventilators and surgical lights to devices used for mobile devices, in law enforcement, and the auto industry. We work tirelessly with our clients to make sure that every single aspect of their interaction with us goes above and beyond.
When you’re trying to design the best product, you need to make sure you have a partner who’s on the same page — from design to production. We understand that a seemingly mundane component part can be used to create amazing products in the hands of a capable engineer. There’s literally no end to the number of ideas a well-designed part can spark in their imagination.
We’re here to provide you the expertise and flex arm options that you’ll need to make sure that your device becomes the best possible version of itself. That doesn’t stop after production. We’re here for the lifetime of your device.