Design Changes On Demand
Create new design changes quickly and easily.
Frequent design changes are a real issue for manufacturers creating production tooling. These changes often depend on current processes and material choices. Sometimes we create tools in CAD, but they do not perform as expected. This is when additive manufacturing can make a difference, with same day or next day revised tooling. If a tool does not perform properly then we can make a design change and produce they new tool over night to be able to test the new tool in the morning.
→ My Thoughts: Additive Manufacturing is a great technology to keep new tooling designs in a continuous testing and development stage.
Lightweight Tooling for Ease of Use and Less Machine Maintenance
When it comes to light weighting tooling, nobody does it like Additive Manufacturing!
In the lightweight game Additive Manufacturing is the leader. Tooling uses this technology to their advantage in a big way. Lightweight tooling is critical for users on the shop floor to decrease fatigue and wear and tear on their bodies. Machines can also benefit from lightweight tooling, as well. Lighter components yield less wear and tear. When a motor has less weight to move around, the bearings and motors don’t have as much stress and reducing stress increases the life of the motor, requiring less maintenance, resulting in more up time and increased production. This all equals more profit for the company.
→ My Thoughts: Keeping tooling and parts lighter means more up time on machines and happier users on a shop floor.
Low Volume Production
Save money and time with additive manufacturing for low volume tooling!
Low volume tooling with traditional manufacturing can be a very expensive process with long lead times. More volume means lower cost. When businesses need low volume production tooling they often look to additive manufacturing to eliminate disruption in production, shorten lead times, and increase flexibility with on-demand revision changes. In most cases, new tools can be completed and ready for work in the same or next business day. All of this adds up to significant cost savings and increased productivity.
→ My Thoughts: If you need a short run or low volume production use Additive Manufacturing. Each tool and process is different so determining when Additive Manufacturing should be used vs. traditional manufacturing is a game of math.
Hybrid Approach for Tooling
Produce Strong, functional parts fast.
A hybrid approach for tooling may need some explanation but it is simple. While many manufactures make tooling out of steel or aluminum, we can offer a faster solution that could save time and money. Taking a hybrid approach means to use a variety of Additive Manufacturing processes together, making a part out of more than one type of material. For example, combining Caron Fiber 3D printed tooling with Metal 3D printed tooling creates a part that’s lightweight, as well as strong. This process is used when you need quick turnaround and is a great option for prototyping.
→ My Thoughts: Using a hybrid approach can make parts functional and strong enough for many applications. Sometimes combining off-the-shelf metal parts with Carbon Fiber reinforced plastic can make a short-term tool last as long or longer than a traditional manufactured tool.
Learn More at our Webinar on Thursday, February 17 at 2PM EST!
Join this live webcast to learn how you can: reduce costs by up to 75%, decrease lead time by up to 90%, and reduce scrap by up to 60%.
It just makes cents!
The cost of CNC is comparable for parts of moderate to high geometric complexity, and for such cases Additive Manufacturing is likely to overtake machining as feedstock costs drop and machine performance continues to increase, plus, with experts forecasting the global additive manufacturing and materials market to reach USD 70.92 million by 2026, NOW is the time for you to make the move to Industry 4.0.
→ Contact us to learn more about how to implement additive manufacturing into your production tooling.
With each release, Siemens continues to raise the bar and Solid Edge 2022 is no exception!
Create new design iterations with a click of a button.
Automatically generate new designs based on defined parameters and rules with the embedded Solid Edge® Design Configurator software. This new design automation application adds rule-based automation to a user’s familiar Solid Edge mechanical design environment. Completely embedded in Solid Edge, it enables the quick customization of products based on design parameters and rules. Rule-based automation can boost productivity and design speed.
→ My Thoughts: This is a great enhancement if your design lends itself to rule based configurations. Quick and easy-to-use right in the Solid Edge environment you love.
Seamlessly integrate CAD geometry.
CAD direct a new, built-in 3D design capability, improves productivity when working with geometry from popular computer-aided design (CAD) systems. Insert files directly into Solid Edge assembly without the need to translate the file separately, maintaining associativity. Data is stored in the 3D design assembly file, preventing data duplication.
→ My Thoughts: Another great enhancement–giving you the ability to keep your NX data native makes managing projects easier by utilizing the supplied NX data and making updates quickly and easily, right in the system.
2.5 Axis Milling
Now included in Solid Edge Mechanical Design!
Solid Edge Classic, Foundation and Premium now include fully functional 2.5-axis milling capabilities for customers with active maintenance. Fully integrated with Solid Edge, Solid Edge CAM Pro 2.5 Axis allows users to maintain full associativity with design data while instilling confidence with automated tool path creation and visualizations for optimized machining processes.
→ My Thoughts: What a powerful addition to the Solid Edge portfolio! Yet another reason to keep your maintenance active for complete functionality and features.
Full-color Point Cloud Visualization for Assemblies
Visualize designs in the context of real-world environments.
Full-color point cloud visualization for assemblies provides the confidence you need to position new design equipment in any setting, which is especially useful when retrofitting factories or plants. Solid Edge assembly measurement and viewing tools can be used to position and design equipment in the context of the point clouds.
→ My Thoughts: In my experience having to design equipment to fit into an existing building, having a real scan of where my design was going to be placed would have saved me valuable time and rework in the field if the equipment did not end up fitting.
Fast Assembly Open
Don’t let complex assemblies slow you down.
Solid Edge puts you at the top of your game with order-of-magnitude performance improvement in large assembly modeling for the third straight year. Fast assembly open allows users to enter a preview mode in order to reduce the amount of data that is loaded. Multi-body assembly modeling mode is a new environment to model internal components within an assembly file. New component finder puts intuitive search of assembly components at your fingertips with auto-complete suggestive fillers.
→ My Thoughts: A well-thought out update, this is a true productivity enhancement that speaks to Siemens’ commitment to providing you with solutions to helping you work smarter, not harder.
Industry-Unique Radiate Command
Reinvent the wheel effortlessly.
Solid Edge introduces an industry-unique radiate command enabling effortless editing of the radii of circles in part models. This productivity enhancement allows you to simultaneously edit the diameter of existing circular geometry. Based on synchronous technology, this capability allows satellite faces to move radially as an operation is performed while maintaining design intent. patter faces are automatically found and edited. Pattern locked dimensions are relaxed during radiate and locked back when the operation is finished.
→ My Thoughts: Fast, powerful, and easy-to-use! If you have not experienced synchronous technology, please reach out and let’s discuss your design process.
Generate a clear view of your design data.
New built-in customized reports for Solid Edge, dynamic visualization, provides dynamic methods for viewing and sorting assembly parts and components. The visual reports are built on rules that are easily created with filters that resemble Excel spreadsheet software within interactive tables.
→ My Thoughts: Visual reporting makes it easy for non-engineering groups to quickly understand what they are seeing. Design reviews become more efficient seeing parts based on material, Make/Buy, vendor, or any other attribute you need to analyze.
From an engineers perspective
Solid Edge 2022 does not disappoint! From an engineers perspective, the power, speed, and ease-of-use makes Solid Edge the right choice for any designs you can imagine.
→ Contact us with any questions about Solid Edge 2022. With over 25 years experience in providing Siemens PLM solutions, we can help!
Do you want to learn how to digitally transform your machine shop to become more competitive, efficient and profitable?
Join us for a half-day virtual event to learn how you can:
· Automate your part manufacturing through digitalization.
· Connect end-to-end operations using a model-driven process.
· Optimize shop floor production with a digital twin.
· Expand your business using revolutionary technologies.
Learn how part manufacturers are staying ahead by digitalizing
Thursday, August 26, 2021
2:00 pm EDT
ENSURE SATISFACTORY IN-FIELD PERFORMANCE OF YOUR PRODUCTS AND THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS
Thursday, June 24, 2021
2:00 pm EDT
ACCELERATE DESIGN ANALYSIS & REDUCE ENGINEERING PROTOTYPES
DISCOVER ENHANCED MACHINE TOOL VALUE WITH SOLID EDGE CAM PRO WEBINAR
- 2.5, 3, 5-Axis machining
- 3+2, Turning
- Wire EDM
- Feature-Based Machining
THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2021
8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Transform part manufacturing with the Digital Machine Shop
Do you want to learn how to digitally transform your machine shop to become more competitive, efficient and profitable?
Part manufacturers are in an extremely competitive market. To stand out, machine shops must deliver increasingly complex parts faster. The NX for Manufacturing software suite help companies automate, connect and unify the entire manufacturing process – from design and CNC programming to machining and quality control on the shop floor. This is what helps manufacturers boost their productivity to stay competitive.
- Automate your part manufacturing through digitalization.
- Connect end-to-end operations using a model-driven process.
- Optimize shop floor production with a digital twin.
- Expand your business using revolutionary technologies.
8:00 AM – Welcome & Introduction
8:10 AM – Introduction to the Digital Machine Shop > Rob Carver, CAM Logic, Inc.
8:40 AM – Break
8:45 AM – Highly Automated CAM > Rob Carver, CAM Logic, Inc.
9:25 AM – Multi-Axis CAM > Rob Carver, CAM Logic, Inc.
9:45 AM – Break
9:50 AM – NX for Mold Manufacturing > Kevin Jongsma, Intelligent Design & Services, Inc.
10:50 AM – Break
10:55 AM – Additive Manufacturing > Kyle Rogers, CAM Logic, Inc.
11:15 AM – CAM Data & Process Management > Kevin Hill, Xperix
11:35 AM – CMM/Quality > Jerry Lewis, Janus Engineering
11:55 AM – Wrap Up, Next Steps > Rob Carver, CAM Logic, Inc.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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”.
Above is a scan of the feature block. We’re going to zoom into a top-down view of the front-left corner.
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.
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.
Here is a photo of a metal bracket that has been cast, then machined in some areas. The bracket is 6” tall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CMM’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 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.
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
We 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?