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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.