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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

6 Design Details to Bring to your Counterbalance Spring Manufacturer

6 Design Details to Bring to your Counterbalance Spring Manufacturer

Posted by Weber Knapp on Jan 12, 2022 8:02:00 AM

Counterbalance Spring Manufacturer - going over detailsWe manufacturers would love it if we could design your component first and have you build your product around it. Of course, that’s usually not possible -- you have certain specs you want to meet, and we understand our design has to fit those parameters.

In the case of counterbalance spring hinges, OEMs are well served to provide as many of those parameters and specs as possible, ASAP. In other words, help us help you.

Detailed concepts and frequent communication will ensure your motion control solutions provider meets your standards in:

  • Quality
  • Lead time
  • Testing

What to Share With Your Counterbalance Spring Hinge Manufacturer

There are six details you should never leave out when specifying a counterbalance hinge manufacturing job:

  1. Budget/volume
  2. Specs & data
  3. Desired product lifetime
  4. Location/space considerations
  5. Certification, testing, & prototyping needs
  6. Other important details

1. Budget

From both sales and design perspectives, it's helpful if any metal manufacturer knows your constraints:

  • Volume of order
  • Desired price point
  • Willingness to pay for required tooling

That last one is an especially volatile cost -- it varies wildly from case to case. If the tooling price gives you sticker shock, keep the end cost in mind. Higher investment in tooling will make your per-piece price lower.

2. The Numbers

Your vendor needs your full specifications so it can recommend the ideal counterbalance mechanism for your application.

These numbers include the lid or door’s:

  • Dimensions
  • Center of gravity
  • Weight
  • Desired torque

Supplying the wrong measurements could cause your product to be unreliable or, worse, unsafe. If you don’t know how to find these numbers, your counterbalance manufacturer may be able to get them for you. You can also check out this article.

3. Desired Product Lifetime

Cycle life is totally customizable with counterbalance hinges. The material and design your hinge supplier uses will depend on how many cycles you expect the lid or cover to go through. Think in terms of cycles per day and total lifetime.

Product lifetime is another feature that will dictate tooling investment. You don't want to invest in $250,000 in tooling for a product you only want to last for 2 years.

4. Location, Location, Location

“Location” means two things in motion control product design.

First, there’s geographic location. Will your product be outside in the cold or near the salty sea? Environmental factors will influence which type of material and finish your hinges should receive (which will also affect final price).

Then there’s the hinge’s location on the product. Will it be inside a cryogenic freezer? Right next to a source of heat, i.e. in a french door oven or heavy-duty smoker? Sources of heat and cold will also impact the type of spring needed. Also, do you want the hinge inside or outside the product? Hidden or in plain sight?

You can’t forget about space, either. Your manufacturer needs to know the available space it has to work within. Space limitations can impact the cost of your motion control design and may limit the solutions your manufacturer can offer.

Not having space and location limitations properly defined can cost precious development time as you try to get your new project to market.

5. What Are Your Standards?

Do you have certifications or standards you need to meet in your market? Make sure your manufacturer is taking them into account.

  • RoHS: Does your design have lead or other potentially dangerous elements in it? Making sure your product is RoHS-compliant ensures you can sell in European Union markets.

  • REACH: Similar to RoHS, you’ll want to relay any REACH regulatory needs to your vendor. Failure to do so could make your product unsellable.

  • BIFMA: If you’re designing an ergonomic product, you’ll want a certificate of compliance that shows your goods are sturdy and safe. Typically, motion control providers are already set on making more or all of their product line BIFMA-ready, so you may not need to do much work here.

Sometimes, meeting standards requires product testing. Sometimes, you just want peace of mind that your grill or tanning bed won’t blow up in its end user’s face. Will you need the hinge manufacturer to conduct some of the testing? All of it? Don’t assume your manufacturer has all these capabilities without asking first.

Are you expecting a prototype from your counterbalance designer? We hope so -- there are numerous advantages to prototyping a motion control design. Some, but not all, vendors will automatically include prototyping in their services, so be sure to vet that out.

If you’re bringing in an existing product or one already in development, it’s great to hand over a physical sample. If it’s faulty or had some other liability issue, the engineering team can examine it firsthand.

6. Other Data & Features

Every project has its unique needs. Don’t be afraid to overcommunicate with your hinge solutions provider.

  • Timeline: Do you have a lead time that has to be met? Is your sales and marketing team trying to beat a competitor to the punch?

  • Other documentation: Your vendor may demand an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) before starting work, especially if it’s developed proprietary technology.

  • Other special considerations: Anything else the engineering team should keep in mind? Maybe you have a specific aesthetic in mind you don’t want the hinge to interfere with?

Take Some of the Legwork Out

All of this communication is easier when you get your counterbalance supplier involved in the design process early and often. Work with a vendor that’s responsive to questions, but also demand the same of your own team.

If you’re ready to design right away, there’s another shortcut to getting the hinge you want: the Vectis DYO app. If you have your lid or cover calculations ready, you can put them in the app and play around with the parameters you need for your product. Try it out here:

Design your own counterbalance hinge with the Vectis DYO app. Click to learn more.

Editors note: This blog was originally produced in Nov, 2019 and was updated in January 2022 to reflect updated and new information)

Topics: Counterbalances, Design, Engineering, Vectis, Durability, standards & certifications