Purpose of Articles in this Category:
Provide an overview of a process, it’s application and why or how you would use it, to a buyer or engineer who has no prior knowledge of the process.
Articles are therefore encouraged to be in the format “What is….[INSERT PROCESS NAME]?"
Variations of this format are also acceptable, as long as they satisfy the purpose of articles in this category.
Here's a PDF worksheet to go along with this article. Fill in your spider diagrams as you read.
A Note About Article Length
There is no set limit or guide for article length (word count). Quality content which can be easily navigated and understood by the reader is the priority. We recommend 500-2000 words.
Alternative Article Formats Are Accepted
Articles can be text articles, slideshare presentations, Infographics, Videos, Podcasts or a mixture of all of the above. Regardless of which format you use, we do encourage some text to provide a summary of the content.
Suggested Article Sections
Not all processes will fit perfectly with this structure, but we provide this as a guide. It’s worth printing this out and sketching down or creating a spider diagram of what you could include in each section.
Section 1: Overview / Introduction
This introduces the article and therefore you should bear in mind that from a buyer or engineer’s perspective they quickly want to identify whether the article is useful to them.
The kind of questions you are answering at this point are therefore:
- What is this process used for?
- What materials and material forms are fed into the process? (e.g. Carbon Steel, in Tubular form)
- What is the output of the process? (i.e. a cut plate, a profiled tube, a 3D form with approximate dimensions that requires machining....)
- What industry is the prevalent customer of the process? (if there is one)
- What is the mechanism behind the process? (i.e. melting and solidification (Casting), cold deformation (Cold Forging), melting and material removal (Hot Cutting Processes))
- What is the process or group of processes also referred to or known as?
This should provide you with an idea of what to write, but don’t be afraid to throw in more information if you think it’s relevant and useful in helping the reader understand if this is the article they are looking for.
Section 2: Process Variations
Depending on the process, there may be a number of variations or sub-processes. It’s not essential to provide a great deal of detail, but identifying the process variations helps establish context for the rest of the article.
The key point here is to identify what the difference between the variations of the process are from the perspective of the buyer. For example, in the case of differentiating between 2D and 3D plasma cutting, one produces 2 dimensional profiles with straight cut 90 Degree edges, whilst the other allows the creation of profiles with angled edges.
This could have been described as; 3D Plasma Cutting has a tilting head, whilst 2D does not. This is accurate, but not as informative to the buyer. If it leaves them thinking “So what?” a little more explanation is needed. But this is where we come in, and we can help you evolve your article in this way - so don’t get hung up on this point.
So good questions to ask once you’ve identified the process variations are:
- What are the differences in materials or material forms that can be fed into the process? (i.e. Plate, Tube, Section)
- What are the differences in the physical output of the process? (e.g. Accuracy, Form, Material Properties)
- What are there differences in the material transformation method? (e.g. are there Hot and Cold forms of the process?)
- What are the differences in process limitations? (e.g. Thicknesses, Material types, Physical Size Accuracy etc.)
There may be many other questions, depending on the exact process being written about. What’s important is the key difference between each process variation is identified for the buyer or engineer. You don’t need to list every difference, as this could become cumbersome if you’re writing about a group of processes.
Section 3: Accompanying Processes
This section provides the buyer and engineer with an understanding of which processes they may combine, and how they can get a complete solution efficiently, in doing so.
There are very few processes in existence that can operate as standalone processes. Materials are typically passed through a number of processing stages, before becoming a final product. To limit the scope of this section, think about manufacturing processes which are applied directly before or after the process being written about.
The key questions to answer here are:
- What process was applied to the materials being fed into this process? (in many cases it will be stock material and therefore not applicable, in others a preform or semi-finished item will be fed into the process)
- What processes are typically applied to materials being output from this process? (Unless it’s a final finishing process for a finished part, or an assembly process, further processing is typical. Even finish machined components may have a surface treatment applied)
Once you’ve identified the accompanying processes, ask these questions about each process:
- What purpose does each part of the process chain play? (i.e. Is one process used for bulk material removal, whilst the secondary processing imparts a required finish or accuracy?)
- Why is the accompanying process necessary? (e.g. distortion or discolouration caused by processing)
- In what industries or in the production of what product are these processes commonly combined, and why? (e.g. Plasma cutting is combined with edge preparation to enable the welding of steel profiles, common in the structural steel industry. Can be deployed in the pressure vessel industry where high integrity welds with accurate preparation are required.)
Many of the accompanying processes may be offered within your business as part of a complete solution to your customers. This section adds significant value to buyers and engineers, as the combination of processes is not necessarily well understood.
Section 4: What Are The Process Alternatives?
The purpose of this section is to highlight the other processes available, and demonstrate the key differences between their output. Another way of saying this; what are the impacts on the processed part that should be considered by the buyer or engineer?
For example, an alternative to the sand casting process would be investment casting. Investment casting offers significantly more accuracy than sand casting, but this comes at significant cost. Both can be performed at high volume, however the tooling cost of investment costing dictates that it isn’t readily applicable to low production volumes where sand casting can be efficiently applied.
A different example would be the application of Die Sink EDM over CNC Milling. There are multiple considerations which could be explored, with figures for typical accuracy, the impact of a “recast” layer in EDM processes etc.
As this section is largely “one process compared with another” it can be quite effective to provide the differences in list or bullet point form.
Ultimately you are weighing up the pro’s and con’s of each process, thinking about benefits and disbenefits. But here are some questions to get you inspired:
- What is the difference in accuracy?
- What is the difference in surface finish?
- Residual Stress Characteristics or other unwanted result of processing?
- Material wastage?
- Cost to the buyer or engineer?
- Green credentials?
- Elimination / introduction of post-processing requirements?
- Wall thicknesses possible?
- Material volume / size possible?
- Typical defect rate or ability to detect defects?
- Applicable production volumes?
- What can both processes do equally well?
And these are just a few questions to understand the differences, and similarities. Similarities are important. In the eye of the buyer or engineer, these are criteria they will primarily use to understand which processes they can and cannot use.
Section 5: What To Consider When Choosing And Specifying The Process
The purpose of this section is to highlight to the buyer or engineer, what they should consider beyond the process comparison provided in the previous section. For many processes there will be common drawbacks and limitations that prevent it from being adopted more widely, this is the section to highlight them in, if not directly applicable in the previous section.
So questions you should ask to get you started are:
- Does the process have any notable drawbacks, or impacts on the material property which need to be considered? (e.g. the creation of a Heat Affected Zone, Distortion, Degradation of the base material etc.)
- Where is it applicable, but not necessarily the correct choice of process? (e.g. Although plasma cutting can be applied to sheet metal materials, laser cutting is typically better from a cost and performance perspective)
- Are there some material forms which cannot be processed? (e.g. Plasma cutting cannot cut through honeycomb material, where there are voids in its thickness)
This section can be used to make note of any and all design limitations that should be considered when choosing the process as the manufacturing route. You may choose to include some process tolerances if not already provided in the previous section.
In instances where the competitor processes from the previous section have been identified as having similar or the same characteristics, this section gives you the opportunity to expand on that. For example, if there is no notable difference in accuracy between the competitor processes, you may choose to highlight the accuracy limitations in this section.
Section 6: Conclusion
This is a summary of a few key points from the entire article, without repeating too much of the information. This should be written once the article has been constructed. At this point the key points from the perspective of the buyer and engineer can be extracted. This is where we can help during the editing of the article. So don’t worry about creating this section before submitting your article to the Knowledge Base. We’ll be in contact to get the editing started.
We know that's a lot to take in!
We've gone into as much detail as possible without making this template too off-putting, but all the same I can imagine many of you thinking "that's a lot of writing". The truth is, at the core of each Knowledge Base article should be several facts, these are things you know, and these are the things the questions we've provided should help pull out.
We want to help you! If you provide us with the facts, provide us with answers to the questions, providing as much detail as you can based on your expertise we can help transform that into a polished article. And you still get author attribution, which means you get the credit.
Once again, articles don't have to be in this exact structure, we encourage you to vary and play with it a little. But if you just want to get an article out there, let's collaborate.
"You provide the facts, we'll provide the word-smithing muscle"
Here's that PDF worksheet again, print it out and get your article taking some shape.