3D Scanning Technologies: Laser vs. Structured Light

Over the past five years or so, the availability of 3D scanners on the market has increased dramatically. No longer is a 3D scanner only for those who can fork out tens-of-thousands of dollars or for a DIY fanatic who wants to hack an Xbox Kinect. There is now a slew of offerings that range from a free app store download for your smartphone to ultra-high-end dedicated metrology solutions. Regardless of your budget, there are some things you should know to make sure you choose the best scanner for your application.

First, we need to understand that 3D scanners are comprised of two subsystems – a capture system and a locating system. The capture system is responsible for registering the shape of the surface that is being scanned. This can also include the color and/or texture of the surface. The capture system plays a large role in the resolution of the final scan and contributes to the overall system accuracy. However, the lion’s share of an overall system’s accuracy is based on the locating system. The locating system is responsible for putting all that great surface data from the capture system in the correct location. Both systems must work together in concert to achieve a useable scan. Without a good capture system, you will have data that is in the correct location but may not have the required resolution to define critical features. Likewise, without a good locating system some surfaces may have great detail but are ultimately out of position.

Let’s have a look at the two subsystems of a typical laser scanner.

Img 6054

This is a Faro Quantum S arm with a blue laser scan head. The arm is the positioning system, it is mounted to the granite surface plate and that mounting location represents the origin of the XYZ coordinate system for the arm. As the operator moves the arm in space, angular encoders in each joint are used to report the exact XYZ location of the end of the arm. The capture system is the FAROBLU SD scan head. It uses a blue laser as the light source and a digital camera to register the shape of the laser line as it passes over the scanned surface. These two systems together create a dense point cloud that accurately captures a real-life object with high resolution.

Now let’s look at a typical structured light system.

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This is the ZEISS COMET 5M blue light scanner. It uses a digital projector and a digital camera to project and capture a striped pattern that is cast onto the scanned surface. Because the projector is casting a 2D pattern on the part (as opposed to a one-dimensional laser line) the structured light system is able to capture the entire visible surface in one shot. But where is the locating system? In order to scan the entire part, we must reposition either the scanner or the part between shots. As long as we have overlapping surface data between each shot, the software running the scanner is able to “wiggle” the overlapping surfaces into position. Thus, the part itself (along with some fancy math in the software) becomes the positioning system. This results in a system that has a wide range of applications.

But what technology should I use for my project? We’re going to look at the raw point cloud data from some different scanned parts to help illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each underlying technology. Please keep in mind that there are always exceptions and outliers and these examples should serve as general guidance and are based on our experience with many different scanning systems over the past decade.

Resolution

Clip Photo

This is a photo of an injection molded part with a clip on the end. The clip is a little less than ¼” wide. We scanned this with a laser scanner and a structured light scanner. Both scanners were able to scan the features of this part without any trouble and without surface preparation. Scan time was roughly equal although we did use an automated turntable with the structured light scanner so that session was relatively “hands-off”.

Clip LaserClip Structured Light

Here is that same part scanned with a laser scanner on the left and a structured light scanner on the right. With the laser scanner, you can make out the scan lines as they moved across the surface. You can also see where the operator sped up and slowed down as indicated by the change in density of the point cloud. The structured light scan looks nearly solid and complete. You can also clearly see the parting lines of the injection mold on the right.

Noise

All 3D scanners create some level of unwanted noise. This shows up as data points that are floating out in space and are not associated with the surface that is being scanned. Noise results in a reduction in accuracy and resolution. Many software programs are capable of filtering out noise, but this can be taxing on the computer system and should be used judiciously.

Block Photo

This is a photo of the feature block we used for this test. It is machined out of RenBoard and is approximately 7”x7”x2”.

Block Structured Light

Above is a scan of the feature block. We’re going to zoom into a top-down view of the front-left corner.

Block Laser Close UpBlock Structured Light Close Up

When we zoom in on the rounded corner of the block we can see the difference in the amount of noise produced by each scanner. While the difference may appear to be slight, we can see that the laser data on the left is fuzzier around the edge than the structured light data on the right. The data on the right has a nice crisp, clean edge with evenly spaced data points.

Varied Surfaces

As with all light-based 3D scanners, light must exit the light source, land on the surface you wish to capture, then reflect that light back into the camera. If the surface absorbs or refracts that light (sending it off in all directions and not back into the camera) we end up with missing or inaccurate data. Lasers tend to have a much higher intensity of light and a much more focused spectrum of light than structured light systems. This gives laser systems the ability to more easily scan surfaces that are dark or reflective.

Bracket Photo

Here is a photo of a metal bracket that has been cast, then machined in some areas. The bracket is 6” tall.

Bracket Structured LightBracket Laser

We can see that the structured light system on the left had some trouble capturing the raw metal, especially in the machined areas. We were able to capture most of the surfaces, but it was at the cost of time. We had to set up the scanner to take much longer exposures in order to get this complete of a scan. On the right, the laser system produced a much more complete scan. We did have to fiddle with the settings a bit, but luckily there was a “Shiny Metal” setting that worked well. We were able to scan the part quickly and very little data cleanup was required.

Large Projects

All the examples we’ve used so far are smaller than a bread box. That doesn’t mean that either system is limited to the reach of the laser’s arm or what we can fit on the rotary table for the structured light scanner. Both systems are capable of scanning items much larger. Of course, there are trade-offs and extra considerations when scanning something as large as an entire vehicle, but it can be done.

Vehicle Scan

Here we’ve scanned half of this car with a structured light system and half with a laser system. Both systems present their own challenges with a project of this size, but everything we’ve addressed already still holds true. So, the question is, what do you need from your scan data? Do you need to capture every single minute feature, or do you simply need your scan data to take up some space so you can design around it? Can you live with some noise that may compromise the accuracy of the scan or do you need the data to be as clean and accurate as possible?

We are fortunate to have several different 3D scanning systems that fit into a wide range of applications. If you’re wondering about what type of scanner you should purchase, or if you think we might be able to help with an upcoming project, let us know.

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Solid Edge 2021 What’s New

Shape Search

There is another exciting feature that will be revealed in the upcoming release of Solid Edge 2021. Shape Search will allow for the indexing and searching of an entire library of parts based on the shape alone. This will be a powerful tool that will allow engineers to surface and reuse old parts that have already been a part of the supply chain.

Imagine you need to create a new bracket that is like one you just know you have created before. Which machine was that a part of? Which vendor did we use? Shape Search will allow for you to quickly create a simplified version of the part you are looking for and search the database. Parts that are similar in form will be displayed in a list and you can open them and find one that is suitable. All of the data associated with that part will be available without having to re-discover all the details that have already been decided upon.

Shapesearch

Another example could be a part that will be processed in house. A new part could be introduced for manufacturing and the engineers would be able to look back at other parts that have a similar shape. How did we fixture the older similar part? What strategies did we use to process other parts like this one? These are brand new questions that will be easier to ask and provide valuable new insights to engineers and decision makers across the spectrum of the product lifecycle.

This will work for standard parts, sheet metal parts, and assemblies, and the search can be performed from a new or existing part. It won’t matter how the parts were named or when they were created. Once the part has been indexed and established in the database, results can come back in seconds. This is just one of the many features we have outlined that will be a part of the all new Solid Edge 2021. In case you missed them, check out some of the previous blogs we have posted on the new feature that we are excited about.

Large Assembly and Sheet Metal Improvements
 
Frame Design and Subdivision Modeling
 
Reverse Engineering and Copy Paste Assembly
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3 Reasons to Use 3D Scanning for Part Inspection

This week we’re going to take a quick break from Solid Edge 2021 to discuss three key advantages of 3D scanning over using a traditional coordinate measuring machine for part inspection. We’re not bold enough to suggest that you should throw away your CMM and buy a couple 3D scanners, but let’s face it, there are some very noteworthy advantages 3D scanning your parts has to offer.

Data Retrievability

CmmCMM’s are great. They’re super accurate, repeatable, and reliable. In your traditional CMM inspection process you bring your part into the quality lab, set it on the fixture that’s been designed for that specific part, and inspect the required features. However, when you realize – a week later – that you need to measure a few more features to track down an assembly issue, you need to drag the fixture out (or rebuild it), re-run your alignment, add your new measurements to the CMM program, run the program, then generate the report. This is the way parts have been inspected since the ‘50s, and while it may have that mid-century modern nostalgia, we think there’s a better way.

When we 3D scan a part, fixturing is rarely a significant concern – unless the project calls for the part to be inspected in a fully constrained state. Since we never actually touch the part (unlike a CMM probe) there’s no need to design and build a complicated fixture to secure the part. Once the part is 3D_Scanner fully scanned with, potentially, tens of millions of points we import that file into our inspection software where the CAD file has already been imported. We import the scan file and run the alignments, measurements, and generate the report. Now here’s the cool part. If we need to go back and pull a few more dimensions, we just open the inspection project, create the new dimensions, and crank out the updated report. There’s no need to rescan the part. We don’t even need the physical part, we already have a perfect digital representation of it from the first scan.

It’s true, 3D scanners aren’t as accurate as some CMMs (some CMMs are accurate to +/- 0.001 mm) and that’s one reason you shouldn’t chuck that big granite beast just yet. But, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to revisit a project to create a couple more callouts and generate new reports. Especially for first article inspection projects, when the part has already left our shop.

Non-Contact Measurement

We’ve already touched on fixtures and securing parts for inspection. Some part inspection projects require that the part be fully constrained according to the datum scheme called out on the prints. Others can be scanned in a free state (ensuring that the part’s geometry doesn’t change during the measurement process). These types of projects include things like seat cushions (anything upholstered, really), silicone components, and some thin-walled plastic parts.

We had a project in the shop a few months ago where a customer needed to check the surface profile of a vehicle headrest. The tolerances were pretty big, but they couldn’t get their CMM to register reliable point data due to the softness of the material. There were some callouts on the posts of the headrest that they needed as well. They brought it to us and we had everything scanned and reported in about an hour.

Visual Reporting vs. Numeric Reporting

Visual ReportWe humans are visual creatures. A typical CMM report is going to be a spreadsheet full of numbers. If you’re lucky, you might get something like this in your CMM report: –[]——. It’s supposed to represent a slider to help show where the measurement (the rectangle) falls in the tolerance range (the dashes) of the feature. A very poor effort at visualization, if you ask me. Some engineers will make charts from the CMM data in an attempt to derive some real meaning from the sea of numbers. The fact is, CMM reports are just data and humans are not good with data; we need information.

Information is data with context. It’s the context that gives the data meaning. When humans see a computer screen full of numbers, there’s no context and we get lost. So, we make charts and graphs to give the data context, but – save for trend analysis (which we’ll cover in another post) – this is not necessarily the best way to inspect physical, 3-dimensional things.

A typical inspection report from a 3D scanning session looks completely different. Sure, you’ll still get a table with all the callouts, their tolerances, and whether the feature is in or out of tolerance. But the real power lies in the graphical nature of these reports. In a few seconds, anyone can digest the annotations (green is good, yellow is a warning, red is bad) and begin to understand how well this part was made. With the annotations attached right to the 3D model of the part, the context of the data is built right in. There’s no need to reference a separate set of technical prints to make heads or tails of the report. There’s no need to make a graph or chart to give the numbers meaning. We eliminate these steps by providing a highly visual set of information. All of which leads to a clearer understanding of the part. That’s really what we’re after, isn’t it?

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Solid Edge 2021 What’s New

Reverse Engineering and Copy Paste Assembly

In today’s installment of our blog series, I would like to introduce a few more exciting features and improvements that are being rolled out in Solid Edge 2021. The first point of interest is the massive performance boost in the Reverse Engineering workspace. This environment will also see the addition of a deviation analysis tool and selection tool options. A few weeks ago, I introduced some features that will make working in large assemblies much easier. Today, I will add to the list with the ability for Solid Edge to be capable of Copy and Pasting entire sub-assemblies between projects. Lastly, there is a new user interface menu called Adaptive UI which will bring predictive command selection for faster workflows.

Reverse Engineering is commonly understood as taking a 3D scan of an object and creating traditional B-rep CAD data for the object. Of course, this is true in Solid Edge, and this toolset can be used for other things as well. Here at CAM Logic, we commonly receive data in the STL format which is used in the additive manufacturing space. We use the reverse engineering tools to modify or manipulate the mesh data which would normally be stripped of the feature data required to do so. Another use of the reverse engineering toolset is in the quality and inspection fields. We can make a 3D scan of an object and compare that back to the original CAD. This information can be priceless as engineers look for ways to optimize manufacturing processes.

Deviation Analysis

In the traditional reverse engineering, quality, and inspection workflows it is important to be able to compare two different sets of geometry directly to each other. The new deviation analysis tool creates a simple and intuitive interface for doing just this. Users will be able to compare mesh data to CAD data, and there will also be the ability to compare mesh to mesh data. For example, when comparing a run of parts and determining the variations between them. The results of these studies can be tailored by the user and be represented on screen as a color heat map or by point to point analysis.

Se2021 Deviation
Mesh Performance and User Interface

As we work with the pre-release version of Solid Edge 2021 here at CAM Logic, I can honestly say that we are very impressed with how responsive the software is when working with and modifying large sets of mesh data. We don’t get all the details on the changes that are made under the hood, but the level of performance increase speaks to an architectural shift in how the data is handled at the core level. Some operations that used to require a few minutes to solve are now completing in under 20 seconds.

Another addition to the user interface in several of the reverse engineering tools is the brush and box selection tool types. This will make it much faster and more intuitive to make complex selections on the mesh data. This is often a tricky task and tools to streamline these undertakings are always welcome.

Se2021 Brushbox
Copy and Paste in Assembly

Another exciting tool that will be introduced in Solid Edge 2021 is the ability to copy and paste entire assemblies or sub-assemblies from one project to another or in the same file. There are two factors that will make this a useful and timesaving tool. First, the relationships that exist between the copied parts will all be maintained automatically without any intervention by the user. Second, any dependent relationships that will need to be associated with the new location will be presented in an automatic dialog. Users will be able to see a list of all the external relationships that are required for similar placement to the source. Intelligent highlighting and face reference will aid the engineer in choosing which geometry to select making the reuse of existing data faster and more intuitive.

Se2021 Copypaste
Adaptive User Interface

An addition to the Solid Edge user interface will be a new menu that will be called Adaptive UI. The panel of tools will use a learning algorithm to establish patterns of command usage over time. This will then bring the top ten most likely commands that you will use next. For a repetitive workflow, this can be a great timesaver. The way that Siemens has decided to implement this solution, however, will set it apart from the competition in a distinctive way. The artificial intelligence will be able to be trained on one computer and used on another with the transfer of just one file. The use case for this could be to bring in a new hire and get them up and running efficiently in less time. The senior engineer could replicate the workflow that is desired several times and transfer this to the new employee’s machine. Allowing them to work quicker and with more confidence that they are replicating the workflow as intended.

Thanks again for your interest in Solid Edge 2021. We, here at CAM Logic, are certainly waiting patiently to roll out all these exciting features to our customers. If you missed them have a look at past week’s blogs where I discussed Large Assembly and Sheet Metal improvements in addition to Frame Design and Subdivision Modeling. Also stay tuned because I will be delivering a live webinar where I will demonstrate these features live and answer questions for you.

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Solid Edge 2021 What’s New

Frame Design and Subdivision Modeling

As we continue to discuss the new features that are being brought to Solid Edge 2021, we continue to be excited about rolling out this new functionality to our customers. This week I am going in depth on some improvements to the Frame Environment. This is a time-tested tool that received a few updates that help export the resulting information out to manufacturing. The other topic of discussion today will be the brand-new addition of the Subdivision Modeling environment. This will bring powerful surface creation tools to Solid Edge and increase its prowess for industrial design.

Frame Design

For those that may be unfamiliar, Solid Edge Frame Design takes simple 3D sketches and turns line segments into cross-sectional geometry along their axis. The sketch remains fully editable easily facilitating revisions or uses across several machine variants. The frame and end conditions will update as necessary throughout this process, creating a very dynamic workflow. The user can determine the end condition and generate a cut list easily. Now in Solid Edge 2021, there is the option to allow for weld gaps which can create results that will more closely align with your manufacturing processes. There is also a new ability to report out miter angle in a fully automated fashion.

Weld Gaps

First, the weld gaps option is a feature that many customers using frames have been asking for. So, if you haven’t heard of Frame Design, now is an even better time to give it a look. The weld gap option can be applied to an entire frame or to localized members. Of course, it can be used to allow space for weld material, but it can also be used as a tolerancing tool to ensure that parts don’t end up long. The gaps can be applied to all sorts of cases with coped ends, butt jointed ends, and where various cross sections meet.

Se2021 Weldgap
End Caps

Another addition being made here is for the automatic creation of end caps. The drafter will have the options to define material, thickness, inset and offset values, and corner conditions. This will make it possible to specify traditional welded or pre-purchased plastic endcaps and allow for the automatic population onto the BOM.

Se2021 Endcap
Subdivision Modeling

The final thing I want to share with you today is the addition of Subdivsion modeling. This is a really exciting new toolset that is being brought to Solid Edge 2021. Sometimes referred to as cage-modeling, users will manipulate a series of volumes defined by faces, edges, and vertices. The resulting free-form geometry is well-suited to industrial and product design. The thing that sets this new toolset apart from other CAD applications, is how Siemens chose to use the ‘Wheel’ to make working with this complicated geometry very intuitive. Users can simply select elements of the cage and manipulate them directly.

Se2021 Subdiv

Stay tuned for our upcoming webinar, where I will get to show off many of these new features live. I will also be posting another piece next week when I will focus on the improvements made to the Reverse Engineering tools and other efficiency boosting tools.

Find last week’s post about Working with Large Assemblies and Sheet Metal here.

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Solid Edge 2021 What’s New

Large Assembly and Sheet Metal Improvements

Se2021 Mef Trim

Here at CAM Logic we are excited about the upcoming features that will be rolled out in the newest version of Solid Edge. Today I am going to dive deeper into two topics that will bring the most benefit and time savings to our user base. We know a great deal of engineers that use Solid Edge to design and prototype custom and production machinery from the small to industrial scale. These use cases will see assembly sizes climb into the thousands of components and very often use sheet metal parts. With this in mind, I would like to introduce some new functionality related to sheet metal workflows and an array of improvements for working with large assemblies.

First off, I think the single biggest improvement to Solid Edge 2021 is how much better it is equipped to handle large assemblies. Yes, it was already best-in-class for working with extremely large sets of data, but now it will be even better at handling these heavy part count models with less active management by the user. Many functions that were previously only possible on ‘Active’ components will now be available to use on ‘Inactive’ ones. This allows for less of the model to be fully loaded into Solid Edge, while increasing the amount of parts that can be comfortably shown on screen.

When adding new components to the assembly, you will no longer need to activate a part to create a face relationship or align a fastener to a cylinder. This means that when parts must be added to an assembly, it could be loaded as fully inactive. You won’t have to slowly and individually ‘turn on’ parts while you work. This has the capacity to change how users of large assembly models interact with their work every day. Speaking from my own experience in assembling hundreds of components at a time into large models, this will be an absolute game changer. The model will remain more responsive and work can get done faster, a real quality-of-life improvement. In addition to locating parts, it will be possible to measure to, create key points from, and complete view operations to and from Inactive parts. If a synchronous edit is needed, the software will identify the inactive parts associated and activate them as required.

There is another improvement that has been made that will make models lighter in terms of processing load. It involves how you import external or 3rd party data, and it is a new category of geometry called Internal Components. In the past, a STEP assembly that was imported would convert all the geometry into fully editable Solid Edge geometry and create part files for each of those items. Sometimes it is just known that you will not need to edit certain things that are imported. A supplier might provide you with complex engine or motor casting geometry that you have no influence over, let alone need to edit. Internal Components will allow a lightweight version of the geometry to be brought in for visualization and assembly purposes. It will also be stored in the file and not create extra files to manage. It is important to think of this as static data. Synchronous edits will not be available on these parts, and that hints at how Siemens was able to achieve such an improvement in load and save times on this new geometry classification.

Now let’s look at the sheet metal environment of Solid Edge 2021. There is a great new timesaving command called Multi-Edge Flange. Where multiple operations used to be required, this new tool allows for complex feature and geometry creation all inside of one operation. It is also represented as a single element in the feature tree so that navigating your model is more intuitive. I would also like to point out how helpful it can be even in a simple box-break condition. The geometry does not have to be complex to benefit from the consolidation that has been brought to this new command.

Se2021 Mef

Multi-Edge Flange is also equipped with a host of options that ensure your flat pattern will be generated as needed for your manufacturing process. Whether it is in-house production or 3rd party sourcing, you will have more control over how the miters are defined parametrically and output to the flat pattern. And of course, all of this remains fully editable and associative to the 3D model, making any modifications based on process or quality that much easier to remedy. There is even an automatic trimming option that will quickly take care of any self-intersecting geometry.

These are just a few of the new features that will be brought to Solid Edge 2021. Stay tuned for a live demo and upcoming webcast I will be delivering soon. Check back next week when I will dig into some new features that have been made to the Frame Environment and the new Subdivision Modeling solution that is seeing its first appearance in Solid Edge ever.

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Introducing Solid Edge 2021

Today I am excited to introduce and share with you a myriad of new features and updates in Solid Edge 2021. In the coming weeks I will be highlighting various topics in depth, and I will host a webinar to demonstrate the new features and capabilities live. Some of the topics will include the addition of new tools to the Sheet Metal environment, improvements for working with Large Assemblies, the Frame environment, Subdivision Modeling, Reverse Engineering, and a host of other improvements that will improve the User Environment and increase productivity.

 Sheet Metal MiterFrame Weld Gap

The new Multi-Edge Flange tool will streamline a complex workflow into a single command. Large assembly users will love that parts can now be located to inactive parts, as well as measured to. To some this may seem like a minor change, but to those that work with large datasets, it is a game changer. The Frame environment will allow for weld gaps and report out mitering angles. Subdivision Modeling is a new working environment for creating complex geometry. Designers and engineers with experience in the workflow will be impressed with the flexible and intuitive interface. Other users will benefit from the complex surface geometry creation and the world it opens for industrial and product design. All users of Solid Edge 2021 will benefit from the improvements to the user interface and the under-the-hood enhancements that will truly make this version more productive than ever before.

SubdDeviation

Stay tuned for next week’s post where we will cover enhancements in Sheet Metal, specifically Multi-Edge Flange. We will also dive into the advancements made in large assembly performance.

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CAM Logic + KAMAX: Providing Solutions Using Metal 3D Printing to Create Cold Forming Transfer Fingers

Our team was called to meet with KAMAX LP, a prominent company leading the cold forming industry. The goal was to share some insight into our additive manufacturing capabilities and learn more about KAMAX’s business to explore how these systems could improve their business.

The meeting started with a quick tour of the shop floor which eventually led to a congregation in the tool room. Chris Himburg, our Director of Emerging Technology, immediately took notice of an additively manufactured part that KAMAX was using to push blanks into a thread rolling die. However, the printed plastic part could not stand up to the heat of the bolt blank. To address the issue, they added a hardened steel insert to reinforce the plastic, prolonging the tool’s life. This was used as a stopgap measure until the new all-steel part could be installed.

Clearly, KAMAX was not green to additive manufacturing and they knew there had to be another area of their manufacturing process where additive could be useful. Finding the best fit for additive manufacturing comes down to uncovering the right application, and it turned out that KAMAX had their eyes set on a homerun. They needed a quicker solution for producing transfer fingers for a cold forming machine. Traditionally, the fingers would be machined, and the lead times were just too long – especially for prototype applications.

What is a cold forming machine? The image below shows a machine very similar to what KAMAX uses. We have highlighted the transfer rack where the fingers are located.

Header

We knew that we could provide the perfect solution. If we 3D printed the transfer fingers out of steel, we could deliver a solution in a fraction of the time it would take to deliver a traditional set of transfer fingers. We employed our in-house capabilities to additively manufacture the fingers and we used Eiger – Markforged’s cloud-based slicer program – to generate the build file for our Metal X printer.

One week after that initial meeting, KAMAX sent us CAD models of the transfer fingers. We printed and delivered three sets of fingers (6 pieces total) four days after receiving the CAD files.

Transfer Finger

Above is an image of the CAD model provided by KAMAX of one of the transfer fingers.

Choosing the Right Metal:

Originally, KAMAX had requested 1018 (carburized) steel to be used for their part. Not all metals are suitable for certain 3D printing processes and, unfortunately, 1018 steel is one of those metals. Fortunately, Markforged provides material composition for all the metals that are offered for their Metal X printer. As of the date of this article, these metals include 17-4 Stainless Steel, H13, A2, D2, Inconel 625 and Copper. We were able to analyze the composition of our client’s desired metal – 1018 Steel – and understand the pros and cons of this selection. Then, using our understanding of the composition of the available Markforged metal options, we suggested an even better solution! The material needed to be strong and possess the proper wear properties to hold the blank and we knew that H13 Tool Steel would be the perfect solution. On the Rockwell C scale, it carries a rating of 40 HRC (as sintered).

Chemical Composition of 1018 Carburized Steel:

1018 Carburized Steel

Chemical Composition of Markforged H13 Tool Steel:

H13 Tool Steel

Modifying the Model:

The transfer fingers run in a machine that operates with very quick and very repetitive movements. In this environment, deterioration is inevitable and requires unwanted maintenance that could result in down time and lost revenue for KAMAX. To mitigate this issue, we knew that we could modify the original design of the part to better address the needs of our client. Reducing the weight of the part would alleviate some of the pressure that increases the undesirable deterioration. We put a sparse infill inside the transfer finger to reduce the weight and prolong the time between required maintenance. You can see the triangular infill printed into the part for light weighting in the images below.

 

Eiger1

Eiger2

Closing remarks from KAMAX:

The 3D printed H13 cold heading transfer fingers worked very well for the sample run. We are waiting for a later scheduled production run of this part in order to gather some tool life data on the fingers. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation this production run has been delayed until later this year.

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In response to COVID-19 Stay at Home/Work from Home Order, Remote Training Classes Extended until May 29th

Remote Training Offer Extended!

Don’t miss your chance to take a Master’s Class in Synchronous Technology

Have you had a chance to take part in our special one day Remote Training opportunities? If not, don’t worry! Due to popularity we have decided to continue these classes through April. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we will be focusing on SOLID EDGE, and Wednesdays and Fridays will be NX!

We understand that the current work environment is out of the ordinary for many of us, so we are offering a special, high-value, 1-day Synchronous Technology online Master’s course. The intent is that this class will allow designers and engineers that are familiar with Solid Edge and NX but maybe haven’t ventured into the Synchronous environment, the opportunity to bring a new skill set back to the office.

Course Schedule:
9am – noon, noon – 1pm (Break), 1pm – 4pm

UPDATE: The following classes are sold out

5/12, 5/14, 5/19, 5/21

Solid Edge

Overview

For a better understanding of Synchronous Technology in Solid Edge, we will look at design methods that employ a hybrid approach of Ordered and pre-Synchronous Technology tools. With this design method understood, we will then move into Synchronous Technology design workflow for Part and Assembly environments.

Course Outline

• Pre-Synchronous Technology design tools and features
• Synchronous design workflow
• Using the Steering Wheel: easily modify existing geometry
• Design intent: rules, tools, and assumptions
• Advanced features and workflow
• Design change workflow
• Assemblies with Synchronous Components: in-context process for designing and editing

NX

Overview

For a better understanding of Synchronous Technology in NX, we will look at design methods that employ an empathetic approach to design challenges. Whether you are forced to work with an imported STEP file, or you are trying to make sense of someone else’s feature tree in Part Navigator, we will highlight some tools that can help you get out of a jam. We will also cover design techniques that can be integrated into your regular workflows for increased efficiency.

Course Outline

• How does Synchronous Technology work?
• Best Practices & Pitfalls
• Which faces should I select?
• Understanding operation scope within workflows
• Real-world examples using the Synchronous Technology toolset
• Utilizing selection filters
• Managing Blends: edit, resize, reorder
• Optimize Face: when and how to use it
• Reorder/Suppress/Unsuppress in Part Navigator
• Using WAVE links to preserve original geometry

 

Have Additional Questions about these Training Classes?

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Crisis engineering: Die-Tech & Engineering joins the race for ventilators in the coronavirus pandemic

This story comes to us from Phil Williams, senior writer/editor at Siemens

Bill Berry was sitting at his desk on a Friday afternoon when he got an unexpected call from a customer. Berry is the president and owner of Die-Tech & Engineering, a supplier of casting dies in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. The customer was Twin City Die Castings, who had called Berry as a trusted supplier, requesting a quote for a casting die.

It was an urgent request, and part of the effort to accelerate production of ventilators, key life-saving devices in critical short supply as the pandemic swept the globe. The request specified delivery of  casting dies for ventilator parts within five weeks. Berry understood the emergency well – he and his wife had followed and discussed news of the pandemic and the life-saving efforts. He was also confident that his company had the people, technology and expertise to deliver in a fraction of the specified time. “You don’t have five weeks – if these things are going to make a difference, you need them in days,” he told his customer. When Berry told Twin City Die Castings that his company could deliver the things they needed in days instead of weeks, they wanted a timeline that broke down the process.

Die-Tech & Engineering and Twin City Die Castings are supply chain partners in a $490 million deal between the U.S. government and General Motors, authorized under the Defense Production Act, to build 30,000 ventilators with help from Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator manufacturer in the Seattle area. Before the pandemic, Ventec produced about 200 ventilators per month, each with about 700 components. GM marshalled its formidable supply chain to help scale production to thousands of units per month.

Die casting scales production

Many of the metal parts of the ventilators had been produced previously by machining, but die casting processes could enable production of higher volumes more quickly and efficiently. “The ventilator company was capacity-limited by certain components,” Berry says. “If you’re machining them from blocks of aluminum or importing them from offshore, you can only do it so fast. To scale production rapidly into a whole different order of magnitude of production quantities, you need to convert some of those parts from machined parts to high-volume tooling with multiple cavities for high-pressure die casting.”

Exploded view of the ventilator piston casting die assembly

Compressing die design and production cycles

Berry briefed his staff on the project and the team went to work immediately. Brian Chatlosh, a lead designer at Die-Tech & Engineering with decades of experience, had already worked a full day. Still, he volunteered for the project and returned to his office and began modeling a preliminary design of the casting die.  “We had an RFQ at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and we were able to present a preliminary mold design at 9 PM to get approval to order material,“ Berry explains.

“Less than four hours after being asked to quote the project, we had an online meeting showing the mold design and how it would work.”

Bill Berry
President, Die-Tech & Engineering

We got the customer to agree on steel sizes and approve the concept of the tool. I stepped out of the room and called my steel supplier and gave him the sizes, and the steel was here at two in the morning.”

When the steel was delivered it went through a heat-treating process that required one and a half days. As the detailed design was developing, Chatlosh shared components with the rest of the team so they could create the numerical control programs to produce them while he was still finishing the design of  the tool. “Because everything is documented and everything is done in a pre-engineered fashion using modeling techniques and programming techniques that we’ve developed over many years, we were able to just divide the project among essentially 40 people and they were all working on their own parts,” Berry explains. “Much of it was being built as it was being designed.”

Electrical discharge machining of the ventilator cylinder housing cavity

When Chatlosh left in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Die-Tech had a fully modeled tool design and the company was cutting parts on its machine tools. By Monday morning, Die-Tech’s 11 five-axis machines were simultaneously cutting different components of the die from the heat-treated steel. Four and a half days after the initial call, the die was assembled, loaded on a truck and on its way to Twin City Die Castings. The next day, Twin City cast the first parts using the tool. Over three weeks, Die-Tech built a total of seven dies for 44 cavities that Twin City used to cast ventilator parts. It is likely that those parts will save lives in April.

Keys to fast turnaround

Before this urgent high-stakes project, Die-Tech & Engineering already enjoyed a reputation for fast delivery. Over the years, the company has invested in people, processes and technologies to engineer with speed. Key technologies include five-axis machining with palletization and advanced computer-aided design software from Siemens Digital Industries Software.

CAD model of the die with the actual casting

“We’ve been working together in a CAD environment for 30 years, starting with I-deas, now part of the Siemens family of products,” Berry explains. “We have a big library of designs and we’re using NX mold design software. We have lead engineers who understand the software and how to design molds very well. Using NX in a team environment, we were able to have multiple engineers all working on the project at the same time, along with multiple machinists and toolmakers. We specialize in being able to do things in a massively parallel fashion. By moving everything else out of the way we were able to put all of our resources on this particular project. We were able to build the entire die in essentially the amount of time as it took to build the longest-lead-time part, which was four and a half days. ”

“We absolutely could not have done this without an advanced mold design environment like we have in NX. It worked really well.”

Bill Berry
President, Die-Tech & Engineering

Die-Tech & Engineering designed, manufactured and delivered this casting die in just 4.5 days.

Now addressing the work that Die-Tech had delayed for the ventilator project, Berry brushes aside notions of heroism in the fast-track engineering his company delivered. “Heroism involves risk and sacrifice like the people who will use these ventilators to help others. We were fortunate enough to have the right motivation, the right kind of equipment, the right kind of CAD environment and the right kind of people that fit this project. We were uniquely qualified to respond in this way. It was the most exciting project I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on. It was a good example of how to use technology and people to solve a problem really quickly.”


Die-Tech and Engineering has been supported for more than a decade by Siemens solution provider partner CAM Logic Inc.

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