Is our flex arm reliable enough for your project?

LED Flexible Arm C-clamp.

You hear us talk a lot about reliability, here’s what that actually means.

A reliable flex arm isn’t something you think about – that’s how you know it’s doing its job. If you’re thinking about the flex arm in your device, it probably means that it isn’t working up to your standard. That’s the thing, standard doesn’t always mean the same thing to everyone. 

In fact, while many of our clients need flex arms, they often need them for very different reasons. Understanding why they need one and how it will be used is a huge part of our process (and why we spend so much time at the beginning learning about your specific project). That said, there are some ways in which flex arm reliability actually CAN be measured. Here’s what we mean when we say our flex arm is reliable. 

The sweet spot of our arm: 8” to 24”

While we can make arms that work outside of this, a good rule of thumb for most of our flex arms is something like 8” – 24” of length from the end fitting to the payload. That’s the length and weight that is typically best for keeping our arm performing at a high level. Now, like we said, there are some exceptions to this rule. We’ve created something called a variable strength flex arm – but for the most part, we’re looking at 8 – 24” as an optimal space. 

Will it bend often? It might need a different end fitting

One thing that we’ll discuss with you at the beginning of your project is how often your flex arm will need to bend. Not only that, we’ll want to know the range of movement that you’re looking for. For some they’ll just need tiny adjustments, with others they’ll need bigger sweeping movements. 

If we have a project where something will be bent or turned around the base a lot, we’ll likely use a swivel as an end fitting to help with that movement. That’s why we ask folks to be pretty open with us in the development of their product. We don’t want to get to the end of a project and think, “Oh, if only we’d used a swivel base.” That will not only increase the functionality of the arm, but it can also make a huge difference when it comes to longevity. Which brings us to our next point.

What is the lifespan of a device? It could be determined by your environment

Different devices have different expectations for how long they need to last. Is this a product that you’re hoping to use for 20 years or will this be fairly short usage? Those can influence the materials and design we use (think brass vs steel). That’s important for us to know because they’ll perform very differently in the long term. 

Ultimately, one of the biggest factors in a flex arm”s life is the environment that it comes in. Is your product designed to be outside? If so, you’ll have to deal with the elements like rain. Is the area going to be wet? Dry? Is it cold or hot? Will there be sun exposure? All of these things will play a factor.

Need an example? We’ve had clients come to us and say this will be used in a salty and foggy environment (like near the ocean). In that circumstance, we’ve had to be really careful about corrosion which could mean using a material like aluminum or stainless steel. Typically, if we know what the environment is going to be like, we’re able to adapt by incorporating design changes. 

Our inflight checklist: The interview process is vital to your device’s lifespan

We see our interview at the beginning of your project as a bit of an inflight checklist before we launch your design. This might seem overly dramatic, but it’s true. We try to nail down answers to as many of these questions as possible because it will cut the time down on development and prototyping. We want to know what the arm will be used for, how it fits into the general application of your device, and where it will be used. 

Our pre-launch checklist

  • Length of arm needed
  • Repetitions or cycles during use
  • The weight of the payload
  • Frequency of bending
  • What is the motion? (fine-tuned adjustments or broad movement)
  • Your ideal lifespan for the device

You’ll notice that we didn’t talk a ton about pricing. That IS important to us (and to you as well), but our ultimate goal is to create a flex arm that will reliably work for your device for its entire lifecycle. In the end, those are the projects that work best. When we work together, communicating your goals is THE most important thing you can do for us. With that information, not only can we create a reliable flex arm, we can narrow down the options to find one that works best with your price point.