Staying Connected - November 2009

NRE and NRT Costs for Medical Cables and Connectors

Part of the costs associated with a new cable or connector project are one-time charges for engineering and tooling.  Non-reoccurring engineering charges are often referred to as “NRE” and non-reoccurring tooling charges as “NRT.”

Once customer requirements are documented and agreed upon, a design concept is completed and a quotation is prepared.  Quotations typically include NRE, also described as project engineering costs and NRT, the cost to fabricate unique tooling.  Quotations also may include estimates of unit pricing and a preliminary project schedule.

NRE and NRT


Example of connector design
– one of the components
of NRE charges

Project engineering costs (NRE) include the costs to design the part.  For a custom cable assembly this may include one or more custom connectors, branch blocks (yokes) and design of the cable material.  Also included in NRE are tool design, mold trials, and production of first articles.  Depending on the scope of the project, NRE may also include DVT testing and reporting.  Complex projects with multiple connectors may require more than a hundred hours of engineering time.

At Affinity, NRT charges represent the costs our tooling partners charge us to actually fabricate tooling.  We typically pass on tooling charges to the project customer at our cost without a mark-up.

Tooling Required for Insert Molding

At Affinity, the majority of cable assemblies that we work on are designed to be manufactured using insert molding, also called overmolding.  Overmolding in two steps (first the inner mold and then an outer mold) allows us to manufacture rugged, reliable and ascetically pleasing cable assemblies.  Overmolded connectors and strain reliefs can offer superior ingress protection when compared to off-the-shelf connectors and can also be a more cost effective option.

Overmolded connectors typically require a minimum of three tools; a hard plastic injection-molded insulator to hold pins or sockets and an inner and outer overmold.  For the inner overmold, a hard material such as polypropylene is often used.  The mold material flows into and fills open spaces, capturing the insulator, wires and other components.  When properly designed, the inner overmold will hold the various components firmly together producing a very strong sub assembly.


Custom connector wired and
ready for inner mold step


Custom connector after
inner mold is applied

The outer overmold gives the part its final look and feel and can include customer logos or nameplates.  Santoprene TPE, polyurethane TPU, or PVC, in a softer durometer, are typically used for the outer overmold to make the connector easy to grip and give a good tactile feel.


Affinity tool design using
Solid Works

Tool Design

Once the design of the part is complete and approved by the customer, tool design can begin.  At Affinity, we generally assign the same engineer to do both the part design and tool design. Tool designs are carefully reviewed and approved by our Director of Engineering and with the tool maker.  Once approved, one of our approved tooling suppliers begins fabricating the tooling.


Affinity production tool for
custom medical connector

Tool Fabrication

The length of time needed to fabricate tooling depends on a number of factors including the number of tools required and the complexity of each of the tools.  We have designed cable assemblies that have required up to twelve individual tools.  As a “rule of thumb,” we typically estimate that each tool will take two weeks to fabricate.  This means that for a cable assembly with five tools – three for the monitor end connector (insulator, inner, and outer) and two for the opposite end (inner and outer) – up to ten weeks may be required.

“Tool-Safe” Tool Design

Part of the time needed to complete tooling is performing mold trials after the tool is received from the mold shop.  Mold trials prove that the tool produces an acceptable part.  It is common for minor modifications to be required as a result of running mold trials.  Minor adjustments to tooling typically only take a few days, but require mold trials to be rerun to confirm that the tool produces the desired parts.


Affinity Manufacturing Manager,
Kevin Kom and Project Engineer,
Mayuri Patel conducting mold trials

Where parts must fit together and mate/un-mate, tooling is designed to be “tool safe.”  That means that tooling will initially produce parts that fit together loosely.  Metal can be removed from the tool in small increments until the desired mate/un-mate force or feel is achieved.

Once mold trials are complete and the tooling has been proven to produce good parts, tooling can be hardened by heat-treating.  Part of our commitment to our customer partners is that we assume responsibility to maintain tooling in proper working order at our expense, including fabrication of replacement tooling if it ever becomes necessary.

Summary

Project engineering charges, NRE, and tooling charges, NRT, are part of almost any new cable or connector project.  At Affinity we do our best to communicate what these charges will be up-front so that there are no unpleasant surprises later in the project.  When on-going production volume is large enough, Affinity has been able to absorb some of these charges in exchange for a volume commitment from the OEM partner.

Let Affinity help design and develop your new medical cable assembly.  We’ll use our experience and expertise in parts and tool design to shorten your project timeline.  For more information, contact Affinity Customer Care at 949-477-9495 or email to customercare2@affinitymed.com.

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Meet Janet Lopez – Administrative Assistant


Janet Lopez, the first voice you
hear when calling Affinity Medical

“Thank you for calling Affinity Medical.  This is Janet. May I help you?”   This familiar greeting is normally the first voice you hear when calling Affinity Medical.  Janet’s pleasant voice and friendly personality is recognized everyday by our customers and supplier partners. 

Before joining Affinity Medical, Janet worked in several customer focused jobs, including a major cosmetic manufacturing and distribution company in Orange County.  When her previous employer relocated to south Orange County, Janet decided it was best to seek work closer to home allowing her to spend more time with her family.

Janet   joined Affinity Medical almost four years ago as a member of the production team.  Just a year later, she was asked fill a vacancy as Administrative Assistant.  Janet quickly adapted to the busy environment assisting Affinity president and CEO, Mary Philipp as well as the entire office team.  Besides answering the phones, she compiles data for quarterly Management Review meetings, assists with special projects and presentations, and maintains company files. She also keeps the quality manual current and helps Affinity’s Quality Manager prepare for both internal and external audits.

Janet’s excellent bi-lingual skills are frequently called upon by human resources and production supervisors to interview new hires or to help answer questions about insurance or other company matters.  Always willing to help, Janet is always enthusiastic, efficient and reliable.  In fact, Janet Lopez helps everyone at Affinity Medical at one time or another!


Janet lighting candles
at Affinity monthly
birthday celebration

When asked what she likes most about her job, Janet replied, ”I really enjoy helping organize company events such as our annual Christmas luncheon and anniversary parties.  It’s worth all of the extra effort to know everyone has a good time and is pleased with the outcome.”  In addition to these companywide events, Janet is responsible for arranging catering for customer visits, audits and vendor meetings.  She also arranges the company’s monthly employee birthday celebration.

Janet also works closely with sales and customer care in helping with customer inquiries and preparing for trade shows.  Janet also supervises Affinity’s card mailings that are sent throughout the year.
 
Janet recently completed Lean Manufacturing training and is currently involved in implementation activities.  She actively helps the Production and Quality teams to incorporate “Lean” methods throughout the company. Janet has a vital role with customers and all members of the Affinity Medical team.

Janet’s family recently welcomed a new addition:  a cute little Chihuahua puppy named Princess.  The family is thrilled to have her and Princess is happy to be part of the Lopez family too.   

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Unique Modular Connector System


Custom modular connector system
with panel mount for four plugs

The Affinity engineering team loves challenges.  A few years ago a customer approached us with the need for a custom modular connector system.

Customer requirements included a panel mount for up to four connectors, mechanical keying so that the plug would only fit the appropriate receptacle, and color keying to the proper receptacle.  In addition, the connector needed to have a positive lock, but one which would un-mate if a cable was pulled, without damage to either the instrument or cable.


Connector features mechanical
keying and color coding


Positive latch locks connector
in place yet allows accidental
disconnect without damage

The customers design goals were a challenge, but one that the Affinity engineering team was able to meet.  The completed modular connector system was intuitive to use, robust, and met the design requirements.

Affinity has expertise and experience in designing and manufacturing custom modular connectors.  If you would like more information on modular connectors or any of our other products, please contact Affinity Medical Customer Care at 949-477-9495 or email to CustomerCare2@affinitymed.com.

 

Announcements, Information, and Trivia


Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
– a holiday icon since 1939

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally created for the now defunct Montgomery Ward department stores. In 1939 the store asked Robert L. May to write a Christmas story for a holiday promotion. May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, liked the story so much that he wrote a song to go with it.  The song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 and has become a Christmas classic.

Affinity Holiday Schedule

Affinity Medical will be closed on:

  • Thursday December 24th
  • Friday December 25th
  • Friday January 1st

Closing will allow our employees to more enjoy the holidays.

Affinity Customer Care - Hours of Operation

Affinity Medical Technologies customer care specialists are available to assist you from 7:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M., U.S. Pacific Time, except holidays.



Suzann Sitka, Cesar Jara and Candy Golding
- the Affinity Customer Care Team

Affinity Customer Care -
Hours of Operation

Affinity Medical Technologies customer care specialists are available to assist you from 7:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M., U.S. Pacific Time, except holidays.

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Affinity Medical Technologies

1732 Reynolds Ave
Irvine, CA 92614  USA
Phone: +1 949 477 9495
Fax: +1 949 477 9499
Email: CustomerCare2@affinitymed.com
Website: www.affinitymed.com