The Need for Lightweight DataThe evolution of 3D design has brought the opportunity to expand its application to downstream processes. The 3D geometry along with other data including configuration, colors, annotations, dimensions, and animations can support production processes at the manufacturing floor.
Developed for the manufacturing industry, CAD software packages are able to render the 3D geometry of parts by using precise free-form surface representations. Industries such as aerospace and automotive demand the management of large varieties of parts - ranging from tens of thousands to several million, which are ordinarily used for designing and manufacturing. In response to this demand CAD manufactures complemented their software with product databases (PDM - Product Data Management), which is progressively turning into conventional business for many of them.
Once the products are being designed with CAD and data is being managed by PDM, a system to hold everything together, the whole product life-cycle, is fundamental. The PLM - Product Lifecycle Management system, developed by CAD vendors is an infrastructure tool for manufacturing.
Since it is essentially a design tool, 3D CAD cannot be quickly and easily handled. The 3D data needs to be manipulated on the shop floor, in order to be useful. The use of the 3D CAD in design has been an increasing trend for problems in the downstream processes.
The progress of digital data allowed 3D design to become more complex and, thus, the amount of required data has itself become massive. Entire assemblies have become huge files that require time and distinctive hardware to be manipulated.
Continuously improving 3D CAD is always catching up with the newest hardware technology, which doesn't necessarily happen to the low end computers that are used in downstream processes, thus resulting in files incompatibility.
Global manufacturing integration compromises the globalization of products. Today, after having been developed in one place, the products are manufactured around the world. These new circumstances require fast and precise information sharing and data transferring. Keeping in mind broadband is not a reality the world over, the transfer can take several hours; hence the file size is a major concern.
With the available variety of 3D CAD environments, all parts of the same product are not necessarily designed using the same application. Additionally, different plants might have different versions that could also not match with the ones used by third parties. When the data needs to be consolidated at the manufacturing stage, it is necessary a data management system in a single format.
As was mentioned at the beginning, the evolution of 3D design has brought new opportunities to the manufacturing floor. If the production staff can complement the 3D design data with the additional information necessary for manufacturing, it could increase quality and decrease time - higher profit.
The solution for all the above is a lightweight 3D data that accurately describes CAD, with capability to easily disclose production and manufacturing data.
In order to learn more about the evolution of manufacturing using 3D, please download the chapter "The Evolution of Manufacturing Using Digital Information Technology", an excerpt from the book "Improving Lean Manufacturing Through 3D Data" by Dr Hiroshi Toriya -- Lattice Technology, Inc. CEO.
That is all for now folks!