One of the key development areas at andersDX in recent times has been mechanical development which knits together with their exceptional hardware and software solutions to cover all of its customers’ requirements.
We caught up with Andy Board who is bringing a focus to the Mechanical Design process.
Q: What is your background? What achievements are you most proud of in your career to date?
I started my engineering career with an apprenticeship group in product design and development with a leaning towards Robotics and Automation and have worked for some great companies including Eli Lilly. Whilst there, I did a lot of work on enclosures for displays, including one project with an andersDX display that stayed in production for over twenty years – illustrating perfectly the importance of longevity of supply. The same enclosure served the project throughout its life, showing that good mechanical design in combination with good display and electronic design pays dividends.
I’ve now worked in Automation for over 25 years and was most recently in charge of a large multidisciplinary team of about 15 engineers for a camera manufacturer involved with medical science technology. In that time, I’ve witnessed the development of displays from the fairly crude annunciator panel to the all-singing, all-dancing, 4k touch screen display that we are familiar with today and I’m sure will continue to evolve.
I can bring many years of forensic work, deconstructing the mechanical design and getting to the heart of the issue.
Q: Why do you think mechanical design is such an important area in display systems
More than ever in today’s modern world we are surrounded by and interacting with screens, many of which are getting smaller and that presents many challenges for us to be able to maintain andersDX exceptional quality in user interfaces. The display physically forms a substantial part of many systems, and the way in which it is mounted can impact performance. We have seen spurious touchscreen responses, for example, caused by a mechanical mount that placed excessive stresses on the display. A team that has never encountered this type of problem before could take a few days or several weeks to work out the cause and come up with a satisfactory solution.
Q: What are the main areas of focus for you as a mechanical designer within the display team?
Since working with andersDX, my remit has really been to support the team in exceeding the expectations of the customer, looking especially at the way in which displays are mounted and packaged in the system. This can have an impact not only on performance but also on cost.
For example, one customer working on the second generation of an existing product, was working with a hardware platform comprising a large carrier board and a 4.3-inch TFT display. We helped to re-optimise the schematic to allow the PCB layout to be redesigned within the same outer dimensions as the display. This enabled the customer to produce the enclosure using the same tooling as used for the previous product generation and so complete the project more quickly and cost effectively. Redesigning a board for an objective such as achieving a smaller outline can be a demanding task for a small design team, especially if the project timeline has been calculated based on using the evaluation board layout directly in the finished product.
Sometimes the display is really the product whereas other times it’s embedded to offer a UI to give some functionality to the product. In the former, for example a mobile phone, there are generally more factors to consider concerning the design aesthetic whereas the latter, say a small display on a desk phone is much more of a functional application with regards design. Other issues to consider are that of the product utilisation and environment, for example a product that is used outdoors will have differing mechanical requirements such as durability (it may be dropped etc.) and ambient conditions such as weather, climate, environment etc.
Q: What are the opportunities for the display industry going forward?
New display technology such as OLED is becoming increasingly available and affordable and this opens up a whole wealth of new opportunities and applications for andersDX’s customers. What is extremely important is for customers to allow andersDX to join their product development journey as early as possible so that the display function can be fully integrated and fit for purpose. This will help drive down the risk factors and create an efficient, flexible design flow.