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Appropriately headquartered in Reno, Nevada, International Game Technology specializes in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and sales of computerized gaming machines and systems products. IGT’s video gaming machines are instantly familiar all over the world.The company’s main product families are video and mechanical-reel slots. Cabinets for the machines have either upright or slanted fronts, depending on the angle of the LCD screen.

Inside the slot machine cabinet is a large array of electronic and mechanical components that perform the behind-the-scenes work for the games: generating random numbers for virtual reels, controlling the sights and sounds that make play entertaining, and managing and tracking payment in and out. “It’s very busy inside our machines,” Mikhail explains. “As a result, it’s also very crowded.” Numerous fasteners and limited access points can make assembly and service challenging and time-consuming.

For instance, the electrical box mentioned earlier originally contained two PCBs and a number of hard (plug) connectors wired to it and distributed around the box. The sheet metal box itself had multiple mounting points for parts and several electrical ground points where studs had to be attached by hand and ground wires hooked up. Because there were so many parts in a small space, access was tight and assembly operations difficult. “That box was an obvious place to start a redesign,” Mikhail recalls. “In terms of its complexity and our ability to rapidly put a new design in production, it was low-hanging fruit.”

Before the redesign, Mikhail and other IGT personnel began training on their newly acquired DFMA software, which combines two complementary, closely integrated analysis tools: Design for Assembly (DFA) and Design for Manufacture (DFM).

DFA software enables engineers to reduce a product’s complexity by consolidating parts into elegant and multifunctional designs that provide significant cost savings. DFM guides designers through the selection of materials and processes. Early in product development, at the concept stage, the software helps engineers starting with basic shapes or CAD models to cost out alternative materials and processes. The extensive process library and cost models in DFM Concurrent Costing help to identify major cost drivers such as machining time, part handling (set-up) time, materials outlay, or secondary manufacturing processes such as finishing surfaces.

The software was a hit at IGT, right from the earliest implementation and training of a team. An interesting by-product of the design discussions during training was a new level of communication and spirit. “Our design teams have always interacted, with members giving their best input from their specialties,” Mikhail notes. “What was different with DFMA was the level of creativity it drew out. It turned the team training exercise into an environment that was fun to work in.”

Once training was over, it was time to begin a practical, hands-on design exercise.