Clippard Instrument Laboratory's Stepper-Controlled proportional valve might not be the direct result of a "eureka!" moment, but it does trace its roots back to an innovation seminar at Doug Hall's Eureka Ranch in Cincinnati.
"During the course of the three-day seminar, our company generated over 90 new-product ideas," explains Brad Thompson, design engineer for Cincinnati-based Clippard. "From those ideas, four were chosen for our team to further research."
Members of the Clippard development team and consultant TechSolve liked the proportional valve enough to give it the green light. The end result: A product that "fills a niche for a high-flow proportional valve that has excellent linearity, hysteresis and repeatability," Thompson tells New Equipment Digest.
NED: What motivated Clippard to develop this product?
BT: The Stepper-Controlled proportional valve fills a niche for a high-flow proportional valve that has excellent linearity, hysteresis and repeatability.
NED: How is this valve different from similar products?
BT: Have I mentioned that these valves have excellent linearity, hysteresis and repeatability? Additionally, because of the lead-screw design, power is only required to make valve adjustments.
NED: What problems did you encounter during the development process?
BT: In many systems utilizing a proportional valve, an additional shutoff valve is required. In order to eliminate that additional valve, we focused a lot of energy on developing a bonded FKM seat, which provides both long life and a leak-free seal.
NED: Did cost factors affect the final design of the product?
BT: Not so much. Because of the unique design, the SCPV already offers a significant cost savings compared with other solutions.
NED: How long did it take from conception to final production?
BT: Approximately 13 months. In the first six months of development, we designed prototypes, life-tested and established beta-test sites for analyzing the valve.
We then made design enhancements and placed the final design back on life test for seven months, achieving over 7 million cycles.
The life-testing was the longest part of the development stage.
NED: Who do you consider your target audience to be and what benefits will they achieve from using this product?
BT: Like so many of Clippard’s standard products, the SCPV will be at home in numerous markets such as analytical and process control. This valve was designed for applications requiring metering or mixing of inert gases.
NED: Please add any other interesting sidelights that you think our readers would enjoy knowing.
BT: This product was the result of an innovation that Tech Solve invited Clippard to attend at Doug Hall’s Eureka Ranch in Cincinnati.
During the course of the three-day seminar, our company generated over 90 new-product ideas. From those ideas, four were chosen for our team to further research.
After the seminar, we met 30 minutes every Tuesday for a month with Tech Solve, Dave Couchot, who facilitated the meeting. The purpose was to accelerate this big-impact idea to market smarter, faster and at lower cost.
At the end of the 30 days, our company leadership voted whether to continue the project or not, with the Eureka Ranch mantra: “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” still ringing in their ears.