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Guided Assembly And Assembly Verification Through Virtual Templating

Guided Assembly and Assembly Verification Through Virtual Templating

As product size increases and part geometry grows more complex, it becomes harder to perform measurements and inspections accurately. In this article, Jim Cassady and Jutta Mayer of FARO Technologies discuss how portable 3D technology can help address such issues.

In the world of manufacturing, dimensional control is a fundamental building block that cannot be compromised. It determines part-to-part variation, establishes part-to-CAD comparison to check whether specs are met, and ensures proper fit in a final assembly. Beyond getting part geometries right, however, there are more important reasons for maintaining standards in accordance with design specifications.

Investing in precision equipment for measuring and aligning components helps ensure that everything fits the first time around without any unnecessary rework, saving time and other resources for a company. Further, more serious consequences such as equipment failure or production delays can be avoided when alignment, measurements, and inspections are conducted properly and at appropriate phases of production.

A ‘Greater’ Need for Precision

For industries such as aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, heavy equipment manufacturing, and many others that handle large components and assemblies, measurement and alignment tasks are a considerable challenge in the overall production process. On the surface, these challenges may not seem too different from what most manufacturers typically encounter. Yet, the difficulties, as well as the consequences of missed specifications, are magnified manyfold owing to the size of the objects being built.

Manufacturers that handle large workpieces would candidly share that as product size increases and part geometry grows more complex, it becomes harder for them to perform measurements and inspections accurately. Conventional hand tools such as rules, gauges, calipers, micrometers, squares, and protractors are effective up to a point, but they are also demanding in terms of time and operator skill, often making them prone to human error.

Portable 3D Technology to the Rescue

Portable 3D coordinate measurement devices have long been the choice solution among manufacturers for large-volume measurement, as they combine accuracy with flexibility. Compared to conventional hand tools, portable 3D technology offers manufacturers a much higher level of precision, efficiency, and productivity all at once. Unlike fixed CMMs, these solutions require much less capital investment at the onset, and are robust enough to perform even in a non-controlled environment, such as right on the production floor, in a dry-dock or hangar.

Besides metrology grade measurement and inspection, however, there are additional ways in which 3D technology can support companies dealing with large assembly challenges. This is done through technical assistance systems for guided assembly and assembly verification based on virtual templating. These systems are based on the underlying philosophy that Quality Assurance starts with the assembly process, and they provide great support for layout and assembly workflows.

Using the 3D CAD model of a part or assembly, the technical assistance system creates a laser template, which is then used to visually project a laser outline of parts (or areas of interest) onto a surface or object. The result is a virtual and collaborative 3D template to streamline a wide range of assembly and production applications, guiding the user through the layout and assembly process. The system does so by providing clear instructions to users each step of the way, and by indicating the exact location for each component and feature.

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How To Make Sure That Tools And Moulds Build Perfect Parts

How to Make Sure That Tools and Moulds Build Perfect Parts

This article discusses how to guarantee that manufactured parts correspond to the production requirements. Article by Creaform.

At the beginning of a manufacturing process, a mould, die, or jig is engineered according to the theoretical CAD model. The aim of this tooling, made precisely from the nominal model, is to produce parts that correspond to the technical requirements. It turns out, however, that there are often differences between the theoretical model and the reality of an industrial environment. Different phenomena interfere with the tooling, causing problems and imperfections on the parts. Adjustments and iterations, therefore, are required to ensure that the tools and moulds, even if they correspond exactly to their nominal models, produce good parts that meet quality controls and customer demands.

Challenges: Non-Predictable Phenomena

The reality of an industrial environment differs from the theory illustrated in CAD models. During the manufacturing process, several phenomena that are difficult to predict can occur. Spring backs when stamping a die, shrinkage when building a mould made of composite material, or thermal forces when welding two elements together are all good examples of phenomena that impact tooling precision. Nevertheless, modelling the removal of a composite resin, the spring back of a die, the impact of a weld remains difficult, complex, and expensive.

Initially, the tooling is built according to the theoretical model, which is developed to create manufactured parts that meet the production requirements. But, in the reality of the industry, the aforementioned phenomena interfere with the moulded or stamped parts. As a result, the parts do not meet the technical demands and must be adjusted, corrected, and altered in order to pass the quality controls.

Starting with nominal models is, of course, a good first step, but let’s not forget that what manufacturers want is not so much a perfect tooling, but good parts that meet technical requirements and customer needs.

Solution: Iterative Process

When unpredictable phenomena alter manufactured parts, an iterative process of quality control starts. The most commonly used method is to work on the part before adjusting the tooling. More precisely, this method involves producing a part, measuring it, and analysing deviations between the part and the CAD model. Hence, if we notice that there are some missing (or extra) mms in one place, we will go to the corresponding surface on the mould, die, or jig in order to grind or add material. Thus, the iteration is performed on the tooling after measuring the manufactured part.

Once this operation completed, we restart the manufacturing process in order to produce a new part that will be measured to verify if there are any remaining deviations. This iterative process will continue on a loop until we obtain the desired part (i.e., when the manufactured part corresponds to its CAD model).

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Siemens Revolutionizes CAD Sketching With AI Technology

Siemens Revolutionizes CAD Sketching With AI Technology

Siemens Digital Industries Software has launched a new solution for capturing concepts in 2D. The new NX Sketch software tool revolutionizes sketching in CAD, which is an essential part of the design process. By changing the underlying technology, users are now able to sketch without pre-defining parameters, design intent and relationships.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to infer relationships on the fly, users can move away from a paper hand sketch and truly create concept designs within NX software. This technology offers significant flexibility in concept design sketching, and makes it easy to work with imported data, allowing rapid design iteration on legacy data, and to work with tens of thousands of curves within a single sketch. With these latest enhancements to NX, Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio continues to bring together advanced technology, even within the core of modelling techniques, helping remove the traditional barriers users have experienced to dramatically improve productivity.

“The ability to make intelligent changes to 2D entities that one imports into the new sketcher is astounding,” said Steve Samuels, CEO of Design Visionaries Inc.

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With these latest enhancements to NX, Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio continues to bring together advanced technology, even within the core of modelling techniques.

With these latest enhancements to NX, Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio continues to bring together advanced technology, even within the core of modelling techniques.

Analysis has shown that in an average day or workflow, around 10% of a typical user’s day is spent sketching. In addition, within current design environments most concept sketching is happening outside of the CAD software due to the level of rules and relationships that must be decided on and built into the sketch by the user up front. Often designers in concept design stage do not necessarily know what the final product may be, which requires a sketching environment that is flexible and can evolve with the design. NX offers the flexibility of 2D paper concept design within the 3D CAD environment, as the first in the industry to eliminate upfront constraints on the design. Instead of defining and being limited by constraints such as size or relationships, NX can recognize tangents and other design relationships to adjust on the fly.

“Sketching is at the heart of CAD and is critical to capturing the intent of the digital twin,” said Bob Haubrock, Senior Vice President, Product Engineering Software at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “Even though this is an essential part of the process, sketching hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years. Using technology and innovations from multiple past acquisitions, Siemens is able to take a fresh look at this crucial design step and modernize it in a way that will help our customers achieve significant gains in productivity and innovation.”

 

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Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

A raft of new and enhanced functionality features in VISI 2021 – the latest release of Hexagon’s specialist mould and die CAD/CAM software.

CAD:

CAD analysis benefits from a new function which improves the suite of analysis shading modes. Draft Analysis has been added to the existing Undercut and Accessibility shading, performing an on-the-fly analysis of the draft angle. This uses the same technique as in the undercut mode, but extended to more ranges. The colours and angular value of each range can be changed by simply clicking on the colours or numeric labels on the graphics toolbar.

Repair functions used in the Repair Invalid Faces of Bodies command are now integrated in the Validate command. It is now also possible to zoom in on any potential issues using the Auto Zoom function.

Developments to the CAD Reverse module enhance the Reverse and Casting processes. VISI Product Owner Marco Cattaneo explains that the scanning operation has been improved with the shaded view, giving better and faster feedback.

With Point Scanning, the shaded point cloud is now shown during the scanning operation, giving the operator an immediate view of what has been correctly scanned, and if anything is missing.

An additional option has been added to automatically create a mesh as a scanning result, which he says is particularly valuable when a quicker, rather than detailed, result is needed.

Enhancements to probing during the Reverse process now detect the correct diameter of the part in relation to the position of the probed points. A Circle/Slot probing feature has been added for probing and designing a circle or slot, giving several options to guarantee the probed element is the correct size and in the correct position.

MOULD – Body to Mould

Additional options to existing commands, along with new items of functionality, make part position management considerably easier.

With Body to Mould, there is a new option to select multiple elements, including solids and surfaces, and move the selected bodies to the mould position. During the part positioning, ‘non-uniform scaling values’ can now be defined by the user, and the system automatically sets the relative shrinkage data in a special Assembly Manager field (Bill of Materials).

With Mould to Body, the system allows multiple element to be selected, including solids and surfaces, and to move the complete mould back into Body position. “This will be valuable for operators using CMM to check tools in the body position. When they select the part to move back, they get an option to select multiple elements to go with the tool back to Body position,” says Marco Cattaneo.

PROGRESS – Part Unfolding

To provide a powerful and complete solution to this new unfolding approach, additional features have been included for flanges and non-linear bends.  The Part Definition feature has been improved, giving better and faster part analysis, identifying the different face types, defining material, and setting linear bends unfolding. Different colours can be set, relating to different neutral fibre values, giving quick identification for unfolded linear bends and fibre value.

A new feature manages flange unfolding on the analysed part, and shows the result in preview mode, so the operator can evaluate the result and set different parameters, while preserving the link with the original part. This automatically recalculates the flanged part, meaning all linked parts can then be rebuilt in reference to a modification on the original.

CAM Simulation

An interface with Hexagon’s G-code simulator, NCSIMUL Advanced comes as a cost option in VISI 2021. Marco Cattaneo explains that NCSIMUL manages the complete machining process from the NC program to the machined part.

 

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Hypertherm Releases Version Update Of CAD/CAM Nesting Software: ProNest 2021

Hypertherm Releases Version Update Of CAD/CAM nesting software: ProNest 2021

Hypertherm has released ProNest 2021, a major version update of its advanced CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. This new release contains new features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable. These features include:

  • Redesigned 2D CAD package provides improved font support, ability to shape text, and other new features that are especially popular among sign makers.
  • CAD editor preference users to set a default CAD program for edits to parts in the ProNest part list. Select the embedded ProNest CAD software or choose a third-party software such as AutoCAD.
  • Part report quickly opened from the part list so users can add individual part reports with an image of the part, plus dimensions, size, material, class, process, costing information, and more.
  • Interior bridge cutting to add bridges to text and other interior geometry so that pieces don’t drop when cut. This helps minimise interior cutouts on parts for aesthetic purposes and reduces tip-ups.

“ProNest 2021 builds on the strong foundation of ProNest 2019 to make the programming process more efficient,” said Tom Stillwell, Marketing Project Manager for Hypertherm CAD/CAM software products. “Whether using plasma, waterjet, laser, or oxyfuel cutting, this new version provides the powerful tools fabricators and manufacturers need to increase material savings, boost productivity, lower operating costs, and improve part quality.”

In addition, Hypertherm is releasing upgrades to its ProNest LT software for lighter production environments. Users with an active subscription, and customers with an active maintenance plan can upgrade to the new version of their respective product at no additional charge and continue to receive unlimited technical support, and other benefits.

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Integrated CAM/Postprocessor Module Simplifies Creation Of Part Programs In CNC Cutting Machines

Integrated CAM/Postprocessor Module Simplifies Creation Of Part Programs In CNC Cutting Machines

CNC specialist NUM has launched a new HMI (human-machine interface) software package that features a fully integrated CAM/postprocessor module to further simplify and accelerate the creation of part programs for CNC cutting machines. The software also includes two new real-time analytical functions for water jet cutting applications, designed to improve cutting accuracy and quality.

Many of the world’s leading manufacturers of water jet, laser and plasma beam cutting machines nowadays choose to base their products on NUM’s CNC systems, in no small part due to the inherent functionality and control flexibility of the company’s Flexium+ platform. Launched in 2012, Flexium+ has acquired an enviable reputation amongst machine manufacturers and end users for its control flexibility and ease of use – and NUM continuously enhances the platform to address users’ changing needs and new cutting machine technology.

The latest version of NUM’s software for CNC cutting machines is the result of significant development work. It embodies Industry 4.0 connectivity principles and features an entirely new HMI, known as NUMcut, which incorporates functionality that previously required separate CAD/CAM postprocessor computing resources.

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Users generally prepare part programs for CNC cutting applications upstream of the machine in the production area, on some form of CAD/CAM system. A key element of this work involves post-processing the resultant ISO file to incorporate machine-specific cutting data. This is a highly iterative procedure, which can lead to interpretation errors and time-consuming resolution of machining issues.

To shorten the path, NUMcut includes a powerful, machine-resident CAM/postprocessor module. The only data that needs to be transferred to the machine prior to commencing cutting operations concerns the geometry of the part and the desired quality of each cut. This data can be derived from virtually any type of CAD/CAM software, running, for example, on a standard PC.

All other necessary data, such as cutting speeds, abrasive quantity as a function of the material to be cut, etc., are calculated by the control system itself. The CAM/postprocessor module utilises a technology database containing all the relevant information needed by the control system in order to automatically generate an executable part program. The values in the database are preloaded by the machine manufacturer, and can be modified or added to by users if necessary – for example, to accommodate new materials.

The database itself – which effectively contains the expertise of the production company – can either be located on individual cutting machines, or stored on a network drive so that it can be accessed by several machines.

The NUMcut HMI displays all files that are available to the machine operator in a clear, unambiguous style. Using the CNC system’s touch-sensitive screen, the operator can determine each successive machine action simply by clicking and dragging icons from the pool of files into a ‘job list’. Both the job that is currently being processed by the machine, and the current position of the cutting tool within the job, are marked graphically. If required, the operator can change the job list while it is being processed to accommodate different production needs, such as express deliveries.

NUMcut also offers two real-time analytical functions for water jet cutting applications. During water jet cutting, the processing speed needs to be decreased before corners in order to reduce the wake of the cutting jet and thus maintain the cutting quality. Using data from the technology database, NUMcut’s adaptive feed control (AFC) function analyses the path geometry and automatically optimises the cutting speed to best suit the curve radius or corner angle.

Another inherent characteristic of water jet cutting is that the shape of the kerf changes with the cutting conditions, which means that a significant change of gap width can develop, depending on the speed. If this inaccuracy needs to be compensated for, NUMcut offers a variable offset control (VOC) function. This allows the cutting path to be changed automatically, so that the final contour of the part remains true to size despite the changing radius of the cutting jet, thereby maintaining the dimensional accuracy of each cut part.

 

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RADAN Powers Paradigm Shift To Digitally Focused “Web Shops”

RADAN Powers Paradigm Shift To Digitally Focused “Web Shops”

Manufacturers’ analogue business processes are being converted into digital-focused “web shops,” based on the leading sheet metal software, RADAN.

RADAN’s German reseller, 3D Concepts, who are renowned for their innovative CAD/CAM solutions, have worked with a number of their customers to analyse the digital change philosophy of Industry 4.0, and developed individual concepts.

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Thomas Menholz, from 3D Concepts, says digital building blocks such as CAD/CAM, MES, MRP and ERP can all come together in SQL-based systems to form data-driven Smart factories. “Every company needs to find its own unique path on the basis of a dedicated digitalisation strategy.

“An important aspect of the digital trend is the introduction of a web shop for the procurement of sheet metal parts, where customers can request components online, be provided with an offer, and place the order. Web shops operate autonomously, and are accessible 24 hours a day.”

As an increasing number of products are being developed in 3D CAD systems, web shops are based on 3D sheet metal parts provided in STEP and other similar files, along with 2D cuts from files such as DXF format. “The digital twin is created as a forerunner to the real product which comes later. Also, it’s likely that 3D data will replace 2D data in future, and that will simplify the processing without the need for further queries.

READ: Hexagon Upgrades VISI CAD/CAM Software

“At the moment, additional queries prevent seamless process handling, which is why this paradigm shift is very welcome for many suppliers and contract manufacturers in the sheet metal industry.”

3D Concepts has recently implemented a web shop for Trio Metall und Design GmbH, in Luhe-Wildenau. Trio is a contract producer of sheet metal components, providing a complete service from consulting, designing and planning, through to manufacturing ‘ready-for-assembly’ components, ranging from single parts and small runs, to large quantities. Using latest laser technology, they also work with non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and titanium.

The digital strategy began early last year, focused around digitising internal processes and creating a web shop, Trionline 24, for the procurement of sheet metal parts. “At the same time, we linked these new processes to their existing ERP system, and controlled their new laser machine tools with RADAN.”

READ: Hexagon Launches Specialist Sheet Metal CAD for CAM

Trio’s Key Account Manager Christian Weinberg says the web shop automates their quotation preparation, which was time consuming when carried out manually. “We’ve also noticed that larger inquiries, such as for complete welding assemblies, are now sent directly to us via the web shop, which led to us investing in RADAN’s offline quotation module, Radquote, for calculating complete assemblies.  This almost halved the time taken in preparing quotes.”

 

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3D Systems Helps Advance High-Performance Automotive Sector

3D Systems Helps Advance High-Performance Automotive Sector

Rodin Cars and Stewart-Haas Racing have been using 3D Systems’ 3D printing solutions to dramatically improve speed and performance in their cars. With the help of 3D Systems’ additive manufacturing solutions, Rodin Cars and Stewart-Haas Racing can rapidly create durable parts, including design and prototyping with faster iteration, and production, enabling quicker time to implementation, and lower total cost of operation.

Rodin Cars uses 3D Systems’ direct metal printing (DMP), selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA) technologies to design, develop and build maximum-performance open-wheel cars for racetracks. It uses the sPro 230 for SLS production parts, the ProX 800 for SLA tooling for carbon fibre forms with 3D Systems’ Accura Bluestone material, and the ProX DMP 320 with 3DXpert for titanium production parts of exhaust collectors and mufflers, uprights and hubs, as well as a wide range of component mount brackets. As a result, Rodin Cars can quickly manufacture full-size prototypes as well as production components without the need for tooling. It is also able to advance complex design concepts and produce lighter weight metal parts not manufacturable in any other way.

Stewart-Haas Racing uses powerful 3D scanning with 3D Systems’ Geomagic Wrap reverse engineering software and the ProX 800 printer to produce aerodynamic components for race car component development and wind tunnel testing. For a NASCAR team, perfecting automotive components designed to increase speed and performance is a vital ingredient for success. Geomagic Wrap is used to collect scan data from the car components, process it, and create .stl files for shape deviation comparison. 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software is used to prepare and optimise the CAD data and manage the additive manufacturing process on the ProX 800. Using 3D Systems’ Accura 25 material, Stewart-Haas Racing’s engineers are able to rapidly print large parts with a smooth surface finish and precise dimensional accuracy.

 

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Hexagon Enhances Post-Processed Simulation, Automation Features In ALPHACAM

Hexagon Enhances Post-Processed Simulation, Automation Features In ALPHACAM

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s Production Software business has enhanced the post-processed simulation, automation, and five-axis functionality of its ALPHACAM CAD/CAM software.

The Post-processor engine now directly configures and deploys a simulation session, resulting in more realistic motion, as well as the ability to support cycles such as M6. The Automation suite has been upgraded, improving the user’s experience and productivity when creating and deploying job configurations. Whether setting up a first automation job, or whether the user is involved in complex and dynamic environments, the new setup wizards will make short work of daily production tasks.

Regarding solids machining, specifically machining solid faces directly, ALPHACAM sets a new standard by allowing direct interaction with them. The Rough/Finish command (profiling) now allows the user to directly select and machine a solid face. And if the machine supports tool compensation on custom orientations (planes), this option provides the ability to create precision parts with minimal effort, via the use of G41/G42.

Advanced five-axis functionality also has been updated to include numerous improvements, such as the ability to integrate the Toolpath Optimiser into a core cycle which can then be stored in a machining style and deployed with Automation; and the inclusion of barrel mill and double profile tools. Improvements in SWARF machining, multi-axis roughing and toolpath smoothing are also included.

The geometry offset command is now intelligent and dynamic, making all operations more productive, whether the user wants to simply retain attributes and information on the geometry, or to completely re-assign machining cycle parameters to a newly created offset.

Regarding ordering and productivity tools enhancements, a new feature of ALPHACAM provides a simple, productive and effective way to set a user-defined order in seconds.

 

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Hexagon Upgrades VISI CAD/CAM Software

Hexagon Upgrades VISI CAD/CAM Software

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence has upgraded its VISI CAD/CAM software, enhancing the mould and progressive die design processes, along with improvements to the Reverse module.

Designed for the mould and die market, VISI 2020.0 features a new unfolding technology, giving users the ability to work directly on the original solid part without needing to extract the model’s skin. The sheet metal part recognition, meanwhile, now provides an improved graphical representation of the part analysed, by identifying bends, planar faces and features.

Enhancements to the Reverse module provide new functionalities for both reverse and casting processes, giving greater flexibility for both processes. Features such as clipping plane management for point scanning, planar face and draft analysis on mesh data, adapting a mesh to a boundary, and best fit, improve the reverse process from point scanning to solid model generation, and manufacturing.

The software’s new Compare feature lets user compare two entities, such as a point cloud, mesh, or solid, by checking the relative distance. The graphical results show different colours in reference to the distance ranges. Also, additional Meusburger Mould Tool templates (FB, FM and FW types) are now incorporated. VISI’s Flow Analysis has been improved by a new mesh group technology specifically designed for FEM analysis.  The flow lines in VISI 2020.0 can now be shown, highlighting possible ‘hesitations’ of the filling from isochrones.

With thermal analysis becoming increasingly more important in optimising mould cooling, the Flow Thermal function has been enhanced by improved coolant flow rate suggestions, giving an indicative value for a single cooling circuit, and an improved solid mesh definition for the mould cavity block, along with each axis, to offer more accurate results.

With the new direct interface between VISI and MSC Software’s Digimat, data showing material local rigidity can be exported into Digimat for the structural FEM analysis process.

 

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