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Proceedings of IDETC/CIE 2005

Proceedings of IDETC/CIE 2005

ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences
ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and
& Computers
Computers and Information
and Informationin in
Engineering Conference
Engineering Conference
September 24-28, 2005, Long Beach, California
September 24-28, 2005, Long Beach, California, USA




Tieming Ruan Anthony F. Luscher

Bayer HealthCare The Ohio State University
1884 Miles Avenue, Department of Mechanical Engineering
PO Box 70 Suite 255, 650 Ackerman Road
Elkhart, IN 46515 Columbus, OH 43202
tieming.ruan.b@bayer.com luscher.3@osu.edu

This paper describes an interactive web-based design tool, A current trend in the design and manufacture of products
developed by using a web-based server application, for the is to reduce cost, part count and assembly time. As part of
three most common snap-fit features that are the cantilever Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA), features that
hook, post & dome and bayonet & finger. Response surface can be molded directly into a part such as snap-fit can be a
equations that predict each snap-fit features performance were quick, simple and cost effective way of assembling plastic parts
applied in this web-based design tool. This web-based design [1]. When designed properly, parts with snap-fits can be
tool also applied constraint management (CM), which helps the assembled and disassembled numerous times without any
designers switch the input and output on the fly and prevent adverse effect on the assembly. Snap-fits are also the most
over-constraint. Two other constraint management modules environmentally friendly form of assembly because of their
were applied. The first one is sensitivity analysis module used ease of disassembly, making components of different materials
to determine the inputs dependency to a specified output also easier to recycle. Figure 1 shows three commonly used snap-fit
applied in the design tool. The second one is correction advisor topologies that are discussed in this paper.
module used to see how much each dependent inputs value Traditionally, the snap-fit design process has been
should change if one output changes to a new value. Two disorganized and anecdotal in nature, relying greatly on the
optimization modules, single-objective optimization and skill and the experience of the individual designer. The most
multiple-objective optimization, are applied to optimize the popular source of information is the design guides from resin
performance of snap-fit features. suppliers such as Honeywell Plastics [1], GE Plastics [2] and
Finally a real design case for cantilever hook was Bayer Polymer [3]. However the information disseminated by
conducted and the results were compared to experiment results. these guides is fragmentary and often of various degrees of
. approximation. For example, the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory
KEYWORDS applied in these design guides is based on small deformation,
Assembly, Fastening & joining, Snap-fit, Web-based, which is commonly violated in real-world designs. It will be of
Design Tool, Constraint Management.. great value if design information for snap-fit features becomes
available to the designers in an abstracted form (as opposed to
NOMENCLATURE application-specific data).
Snap-fit design can be extremely variable, with the same
Insertion force: The force applied to a snap-fit feature to feature driven by very different constraints. For example when
engage it. designing a cantilever hook, one user may want to minimize its
Locking ratio: The ratio of maximum retention force to overall dimensions for packaging concerns while another user
maximum insertion force of a snap-fit may want to minimize the stress and strain due to material
feature. considerations. To facilitate this approach to design, this web-
Retention force: The force applied to a snap-fit feature to based design tool allows the user to switch design inputs and
disassemble it. design outputs in the design process. It can be considered
variational since the design factors used to drive the design do
not need to be known beforehand.

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The purpose of this paper is to describe a web based design can be distributed at a company site-wide over an intranet or
to facility the effective and efficient design of three types of worldwide over the Internet. This makes it easily accessible to
snap-fit features. Its design approach, the flowchart behind it, a user, and universal upgrades can be achieved by simply
and an example problem are all presented. updating the software at the server location.

Figure 1-(a): Cantilever hook

Figure 1-(c): Bayonet & finger

EastmanTM Chemical Company [5] also developed an

interactive online support tool that receives inputs from the user
to generate a technical recommendation for cantilever snap-fit
design. This design tool calculates the theoretical strain that
occurs when a cantilever is deflected. This maximum strain is
assumed to occur on the outer layer of the beam thickness,
usually at the base of the latch (cantilever hook). Strains can
also be calculated for a latch, which varies linearly in both
thickness and width from the base of the tip to latch. After the
users specify the material, its brand and geometry dimensions
for cantilever, this design tool will predict the deflection force
and outer fiber strain.
Honeywell Plastics [6] developed an online Snap-Fit
Design Workspace. It is a web-based application that serves as
an engineering tool in snap-fit design. The program provides a
workspace for the designer to test different scenarios by
adjusting various input parameters and selecting different
Figure 1-(b): Post & dome engineering material for the snap-fit design. The following
snap-types were included: five different uniform beams, two
different tapered beams, two different U shaped beam cases,
2. LITERATURE REVIEW and an L shaped beam. The cantilever beam formulas used in
Oh et al. [4] created a calculator in which the design conventional snap-fit design poorly estimates the amount of
equations of seven snap-fit features (annular snap, bayonet & strain at the beam/wall interface because they do not include
finger, post & dome, cantilever hook, cantilever-hole, the deformation in the wall itself. To obtain a more accurate
compressive hook, L-shaped hook and U-shaped hook) were prediction of total allowable deflection and strain for short
implemented. This calculator aids in designing snap-fits to meet beams, a deflection magnification factor was applied in this
specific loading requirements by allowing the designer to size design workspace.
the feature to obtain desired estimates for maximum insertion Jeff Raquet [7] used Java Applet to create a snap calculator
and retention forces. This calculator was developed in JAVATM to assist in the development of correct parameters in the design
language that is independent of operating system platforms and of a plastic snap-fit. Designers need to select a material and

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give values to several specified inputs. Then based on these IIS applications run with multiple browsers and
inputs, insertion force and stress at root are computed. It also multiple versions of those browsers. They'll also run
provide an optimize option to minimize the snap-fits volume. on multiple platforms, including Mac OSX and Unix
GE Plastics [8], Engineers Edge [9, 10] and Brock and machines.
Wright of University of California at Berkeley [11] also Because the application resides in its entirely on the
developed similar online snap-fit calculators. All of them used web server, the administrator can update the entire
conventional design equations based on small deformation and application with a single code change. There are no
long beam assumptions. Nonlinear finite element analysis client-side installation issues.
(FEA) was used to develop design equations incorporated into The application is available from any location with a
this design tool. web-browser. A client isn't bound to one computer.
All the data is centralized.
Figure 2 shows the system architecture used in the 5.CONSTRAINT MANAGEMENT AND OPTIMIZATION
development of this web-based design tool. All the sub-
components of the web-based design tool derive information CONSTRAINT MANAGEMENT
from the pre-compiled mathematical models and the design For optimization purpose a given mechanical system can
selection. Several requirements drove the system architecture. be characterized by m nonlinear equalities and p inequalities in
First extensive modules were available for constraint n unknown variables as follows:
management and it was desired these not be recompiled.
Equation module includes the design equations of each snap-fit hi ( x1, x2,L, xn ) = 0, i = 1, 2,L , m (1)
feature. Graphics module includes all different web-based
components that will display in the web browser. The solver is
used to calculate any possible output parameters based on the
current input parameters or solved parameters. The optimizer
includes two optimization modules single objective
gi ( x1, x2,L, xn ) 0, i = 1, 2,L , n (2)

optimization and multiple objective optimizations. Sensitivity

analysis calculates the inputs dependency to a specified output
and correction advisor determines how much each dependent With x1, x2, , xn being the design variables.
inputs value should change if one output changes to a new In addition, there might be limit constraints in the
value. Finally these modules communicate with constraint following form:
manager to update the status of input and output parameters.
xl x xu , (3)
Visual Basic Fortran
code code If the inequality constraints are converted to equality
constraints using p non-negative slack variables, the total
Graphics Equation Web-based number of design variables increase from n to n+p. A more
Design Tool general formulation can get as follows:

fi ( x1, x2,L, xN ) = 0,
i = 1, 2,L , M (4)

Inequalities Sensitivity xl x xu , i = 1, 2,L , N (5)
Optimizer Analysis &
Selection Constraint Correction
Manager Advisor
xi 0, i = n + 1, n + 2,L , N (6)
(Slack Variables)
Where N=n+p and M=m+p.
Interactive Web Browsers

Depending on the values of M and N, we can classify a

design system into one of the following three categories:
User If M<N: Under-determined system

Figure 2: System Architecture of the Web-based Design Tool If M=N: Fully-determined system

4. PROGRAMMING TOOL If M>N: Over-determined system

There are many programming tools available to Web-based
application such as JavaTM, JavaScriptTM, VBScriptTM and Most representations of mechanical design problems are
Visual Basic Internet Information Server (VB-IIS). The VB-IIS under-determined, and they exhibit (N-M) degrees of freedom.
application was choose for this Web-based application because These degrees of freedom translate into (N-M) inputs variables
it has the following advantages: before the design is complete. The input variables can be the
design specifications e.g. load requirement, safety factor, etc. or

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decision variables selected by optimization algorithm, e.g. Multiple-objective or multi-criteria optimization problems
insertion force, insertion strain. In this paper, we treat snap-fit occur in snap-fit design. Several books [17-19] discuss various
design as an under-determined system. methods of transforming a multiple objective optimization
In a fully-determined system, when M is equal to N, there problem into a substitute problem by using a special preference
is only one possible design case. For the under-determined function as its objective function. This transformation method
systems, the number of valid design cases is usually less than is regarded as optimization strategy. In this study a Weighted
the number of possible design cases because certain Sum strategy was applied. All the objective functions are
combinations of variables will lead to direct redundancy evaluated qualitatively according to their functional importance
problems. The following simple example is used to illustrate and are assigned weights indicating the designers subjective
the concept of direct redundancy. preference. Weighted sum strategy constructs a sum of all
weight-factored objectives as a preference function [17-19].
X3=X1+X2 (7)
X4=X32 (8) The three snap-fit features implemented in this web-based
design tool were shown in Figure 1 and are described in more
Since there are 4 variables in 2 equations, the number of detail here.
possible design cases is 6. For more details about how to
calculate the number of possible design cases, please refer to CANTILEVER HOOK SNAP-FIT FEATURE
[12]. But the case which selects X3 and X4 as input variables The cantilever hook is the most widely utilized snap-fit
leads to direct redundancy. feature (Figure 1-a). For cantilever hook with low retention
In a simple constraint design problem, as the one above, angle, the equations from design guides [1-3] are reasonable
direct redundancies are easy to identify. But, when the size of accurate to calculate its performance. However for cantilever
constraint network increases, determination of direct hooks with a high retention angle, the retention case becomes a
redundancies become a complex problem. Interactive design very complex phenomenon, and experimental results do not
programs built over the constraints of a mechanical system match the equations from those design guides. A two-
should permit the user to input any valid combination of design dimensional, nonlinear contact finite element analysis (FEA)
variables. Constraint management can determine which model was created to simulate the performance of cantilever
variables are dependent upon the known variables and the most hook with a high retention angle. This FEA model overcame
efficient solution scheme to solve for these dependent variables. the major limitations existing in the current design guides by
Assuming the several variables have been already been input allowing slippage to occur between the retention face and the
and other variables have been solved, an interactive constraint mating part. The authors used two sets of design arrays to
manager has to deal with the following situations: generate the design equation for the retention case offing
New Specification Problem: Input of any unknown cantilever hook with a high retention angle. The first array, a
variable. Determine if there are any dependent two-level fractional factorial design, was used to identify the
variables and solve them. most significant generic factors. The second array, a central
Respecification Problem: Change in the value of the composite design (CCD), was used to generate a second order
variable which has already been input. response surface equation of retention force for cantilever hook
Unspecification Problem: Deletion of the value of a with a high retention angle.
variable which was previous specified as an input.
Reverse Specification Problem: Input of a value for a POST & DOME SNAP-FIT FEATURE
variable which has been computed. The post & dome feature is a high performance snap-fit
These four situations will be illustrated by a detailed that is self-datuming and can take some shear loading in
example. References [12-15] explained more details for each of addition to retention (Figure 1-b). The authors became aware of
the above situations. this feature from working with Fish-Price, a division of Mattel.
It provides a higher locking ratio than traditional cantilever
hooks, and its retention strength is less dependent on friction.
OPTIMIZATION Nichols [20] created two design arrays to study the post &
Two optimization modules were applied in the snap-fit dome snap-fit feature. The first, called the catch array; is a
design tool. The first module is based on single objective focused array constructed to determine the optimal preload and
optimization and is used to optimize one snap-fit design molded-in undercut at the interface between the post & dome
parameter at a time. The other module is based on multiple segments. Optimal performance is judged with respect to both
objective optimization used to optimize snap-fit several design the snap-fits maximum retention force and maximum locking
parameters at the same time. ratio. The second array, called the macro array, is a
A single-objective optimization problem may have (and comprehensive design of experiments array. The objective of
usually does have) a single-valued, unique solution. In this the macro array is to generate design data for a variety of
study a single-objective optimization problem can be divided possible dome geometries. Design equations are provided by
into two steps. First step is to use Golden Section Method to subsequent analysis of the finite element data using response
find the search direction, and then the next step is use BFGS surface methodology (RSM). The designed equations provide
(Broydon-Fletcher-Goldfarb-Shanno) method to find the estimates for the maximum insertion force, insertion strain, and
optimum value. Detailed derivation of the method is given in retention force applicable for an idealized post & dome snap-fit
Arora [16]. The optimization module used from references [12- feature.

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BAYONET & FINGER SNAP-FIT FEATURE Designers can change the value of the variables which has
A Bayonet & finger snap-fit feature contains a bayonet, a already been input. For example, if a designer want to change
retention finger and a support finger (Figure 1-c). Shen [21] the value of Modulus from 300000 psi (2055MPa) to 400000
first found an optimum catch geometry of bayonet using an psi (2759 MPa), the outputs values will also be recalculated
orthogonal experimental array. Then another three-lever, five- upon entry (Figure 4).
factor experimental array was used to obtain response surface
equations. These response surface equations approximated the
amount of over-engagement as well as the insertion and
retention forces for values of the design factors. A spring was
connected between the root of the bayonet and an external node
to simulate the base-part stiffness of the bayonet. The
sensitivity of the values of this spring constant to the feature
performance was investigated as part of [21].


The current version of this software resides on a Pentium
PC with Microsoft's Windows 2000 Standard Server at the
Integral Attachment Program of the Ohio State University.
In order to secure this web-based application, every client
needs a username and a password to log on this website. After
clients log onto the website, they choose among three different
snap-fits: Cantilever Hook, Post & Dome and Bayonet & Figure 4: The design interface of respecification
NEW SPECIFICATION PROBLEM Finally, all variables are inputted or computed (Figure 5).
In this stage, the designer inputs variables (in any order). Values can be switched from an input (independent) variable to
After each input is typed, the design tool will check if there is an output (dependent) variable. Designers can also unspecify
any output can be computed based on this new input and those the value for a variable which was previously specified as an
already computed which will avoid over-constraint. For input by clicking the corresponding Reset button. After that, the
example, in this case Modulus was chosen as the first input, but value of this input and all outputs dependent on this input will
no output is available based on this entry. The designer become blank. For this case, the Beam Length is chosen to
continues adding inputs (beam length, offset, etc) until the reset. From Figure 6, it is found that all outputs except Critical
problem is completely specified by entering the fifth and the angle are dependent on Beam Length.
last input (base width). At the same time, the Status column
will shown each variables status (Input, Output or N/A)
(Figure 3).

Figure 5: The final design interface of new specification

Figure 3: The design interface of new specification

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closely monitored. The sensitivity analysis module is used to
determine the snap-fits dependency with respect to specified
variables. For example, if designers want to see which input has
the most significant impact on Insertion Strain, designer click
the Sensitivity Analysis link at the bottom. Figure 8 shows a
typical Sensitivity Analysis page output. In this example the
influence of all of the design variables on the Insertion Strain is
calculated. Note that the sensitivities are ordered from smallest
to biggest. For this case offset has the most significant impact
to Insertion Strain, and the sensitivity value means that if the
value of offset changes 1.491338E-02 the value of insertion
strain will change 1 unit.

Figure 6: The design interface of unspecification


Reverse specification is the combination of unspecification
and respecification. For instance, designers want to change the
status of Base Height from output to input. First designers
should click the corresponding Reset button. Then all inputs
related to Base Height will be highlighted and designers should Figure 8: The typical sensitivity analysis page
release one of these inputs statuses from Input to N/A. Now
designers can specify a new value to Base Height in order to CORRECTION ADVISOR
make it as an input variable. In this case, suppose designers Correction Advisor is used when designers want to see
release the status of Beam Length and specify a new value, say how much each dependent inputs value should change if one
0.1 in, for Base Height (Figure 7). output changes to a new value. For example, Figure 9 shows
the typical Correction Advisor page. If designers just want to
change the value of Modulus to change the value of Base
Height from 5.975205E-02 to 1, the value of Modulus
should change from 300000 to 64 and the difference is
99.97867%. The page also shows that if just change one of the
last three inputs, the change will violate their minimum or
maximum values.
Other functions of the web-based tool include
Illustration which shows each snap-fits geometry, Variable
Range which shows each variables range. And using Switch
Units designers can switch units between science units and
English units. Reset button is used to clear all variables

Figure 7: The design interface of reverse specification

In product design it is advantages to know how ones
product will function away from nominal conditions. By
studying this, tolerance that are critical to performance can be

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Figure 9: The typical correction advisor page

Single-objective optimization is used to optimize a single
parameter of snap-fit features. First an objective parameter
should be selected, and the designer should decide if he wants Figure 11: Single-objective optimization results for cantilever
to minimization or maximization the value. In this example, the hook
designer wants to maximize retention force. After all
parameters are inputted or solved except retention angle (Figure MULTIPLE-OBJECTIVE OPTIMIZATION
10), the optimum retention force was found and the design tool In this case, two parameters of cantilever hook want to be
also calculated the corresponding value for retention angle optimized: minimize insertion force and maximize retention
(Figure 11). force. Some parameters were inputted identified by Input
status and some parameters were solved based previous
inputted parameters identified by Output status before the
optimization. Two free parameters were remained identified by
N/A status. The weighted values of objective functions need
to be selected based on designers decision on their importance
and make sure the sum of these weighted values is 1 (Figure
After the optimization, the optimized values of objective
functions were shown. The free remained parameters were also
solved based these optimized values (Figure 13).

Figure 10: Single objective optimization for retention force of

cantilever hook

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following sections with a summary of the results and
comparisons to experimental data at the end. The experiment
conducted by Rusli [22] provides the experimental data of
maximum insertion and retention forces of several cantilever
hooks. The performance data from two selected cantilever
hooks in that experiment is compared to the predicted results
from the design tool. The cantilever hook was made of ABS
with a frictional coefficient of 0.2, youngs modulus of
2137Mpa. All performance of these two cantilever hooks was
solved by using the design equations from Bayers design guide
[3], except the retention case of the second cantilever hook that
belongs to the high retention and need the response surface
equation from this study. The difference about these
comparisons is reasonable (Table 1), which can give designers
a quick idea about the performance of cantilever hook and aid
them to in further design.

Table 1: The comparison between experiment results and

equations results
Experiments Design Difference
tool (%)
Insertion 1.97 1.94 1.5
Cantilever Force (N)
hook 1 Retention 6.63 6.01 9.4
Force (N)
Insertion 6.84 7.91 13.5
Cantilever Force (N)
hook 2 Retention 46.79 51.05 8.3
Figure 12: Multiple objective optimizations for cantilever hook Force (N)

This paper describes an interactive web-based design tool
for three different snap-fit features: cantilever hook, post &
dome, and bayonet & finger. To overcome the disadvantages of
the current design guides such as poor modeling of high angle
retention, the second order response surface models generated
by the combination between DOE and FEA were applied in the
design tool. An initial comparison tests were conducted to
verify the accuracy of the design tool. This web-based design
tool can be used to predict typical performance properties of
snap-fit features such as insertion force, retention force,
insertion strain and locking ratio. Constrain management
modules include sensitivity analysis module and correction
advisor module were applied to prevent over-constraint and
transfer the status of design factors on the fly.


1. Honeywell Plastics, Snap-fit Design Manual. 1998,

Honeywell Plastics: Morristown, NJ.
2. General Electric, GE Engineering Thermoplastics Design
Guide. 1997: Pittsfield, MA.
3. Bayer Corporation, Snap-fit Joints for Plastic - A Design
Guide, in Plastics and Rubber Division, Bayer Corporation.
1998: Pittsburgh, PA.
4. J. S. Oh, D.Q.L., D. Lee, and G. A. Gabriele, Java-Based
Figure 13: Multiple objective optimization results for Design Calculator for Integral Snap-Fits. ASME Design
cantilever hook Engineering Technical Conference, 1999.
5. Eastman Chemical Company, Snap Fit OnLine. 1998.
8. DESIGN VERIFICATION CASES 6. Honeywell Plastics, Snap Fit Calculator. 2000, Honeywell
The following case studies illustrate the utilization of the Plastics.
most common snap-fit feature- cantilever hook. The material 7. Raquet, J., It's A Snap. 1999.
and geometric inputs to the design tool are listed in the

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8. General Electric, Engineering Calculator - Snap Fit
Wizard. 2003, GE Plastics.
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Finger Snap-fit. Thesis, Department of Mechanical
Engineering, 1997, The Ohio State University: Columbus,
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Functional Testing of Snap-Fit., in Mechanical Engieering.
2000, The Ohio State University: Columbus, OH.

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