Five Flute

Section View: Issue #10

Electric motor production, supersonic aircraft revival, Solidworks performance boost

Welcome to Section View, a newsletter for curious engineers and hardware people. Brought to you with ❤️ by the Five Flute team.

Manufacturing Spotlight

Everyone knows manufacturing is hard, and it comes in many shapes and sizes. This week we’ll be looking at three very different manufacturing environments, from hands-on, dirty and difficult work forging pistons for marine engines to ultra-clean automated electric motor production at Audi.


I really like seeing the contrast in assembly environments between the highly automated Audi production line and this extremely manual 70cc motorcycle engine assembly line. The differences in capital investment, automation, robotics, quality control and assembly techniques are staggering. Despite the simplicity of the production line, the motorcycle engine assembly highlights a lot of the best practices we outline in our DFA article: things like using pyramid style assembly order, self fixturing and self aligning components, poka-yoke error proofing, and designing components for ease of handling.

Hardware industry happenings - Lets go supersonic!

We’ve been following Boom Aerospace for a few years as they look to bring back supersonic passenger aircraft (who didn’t love the Concorde!). The approach the Boom team is taking is to develop a 1/3 scale technology demonstration aircraft that they call the XB-1. This week they announced that they will be flight testing soon, starting with initial taxi tests.


Speaking of the Concorde, we love the story behind this famous picture…


The only picture of the Concorde flying at supersonic speed, taken by an RAF Tornado pilot over the Irish Sea in April 1985. The Concorde had to slow down from Mach 2 to Mach 1.5-1.6 so that the Tornado crew could get the shot!

NASA is continuing work on the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology demonstrator, but this week they ran into issues with hydraulics. The X-59 was originally slated to fly in 2021 but has been delayed by hiring issues, COVID, and technical challenges related to wiring and final systems integration. Hardware is still in fact quite hard, even for the best of us!


Hardware Hack - SolidWorks Performance Boost

This tip comes straight from our friend Peter Brinkhuis, a real SolidWorks expert if there ever was one.

Performance tip: remove appearances from imported models in SOLIDWORKS. This can make opening files 2x faster. For some reason, each face in an imported STEP file can have its own appearance. More than 100 appearances in a part makes opening the file significantly slower.

So after importing, you should check the number of appearances (via Performance Evaluation for assemblies) or just remove all of them from the part.


Dear Readers!

After the success of our sheet metal DFM article, we want to hear from you! What other design and manufacturing processes should we write about? Just respond to this email and let us know. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

William Burke

William Burke

Five Flute Founder & CEO

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