Emerging Technologies in Design Engineering
Natarajan Ramamoorthy, Managing Director EGS Computers India Private Limited.
Natarajan Ramamoorthy is Managing Director EGS Computers India Private Limited. He holds a Master's Degree in ME from The University of Toledo, Ohio, USA. Prior to starting EGS India, he served as a Consultant at Ford Motor Company working on Automotive Design Engineering including validation … More »
Design & Drawing Automation using 3D CAD – Powerful, affordable and easy
July 16th, 2010 by Natarajan Ramamoorthy, Managing Director EGS Computers India Private Limited.
Engineers have always had a passion for writing programs (since the advent of Fortran) that would perform calculations based on design parameters provided, to arrive at sizing dimensions. Be they calculations involving Heat Transfer, Fluid Flow, Strength or Deflection, engineering community has evolved many standards including TEMA, EJMA, ASME, API or Material Handling codes, for specific engineering requirements.
Going a step ahead, let us pose some questions for the benefit of organizations:
Effectively, the answers to these questions lead directly to the profitability, efficiency and IPR of the organisation. Essentially all of the above relate to design engineering functions, either directly or indirectly.
Rule Based Engineering Design:
Knowledge, when put to re-use, with automated decision making, results in higher productivity and reduced errors. Rule based engineering design created within a framework of knowledge driven design process helps in developing fool-proof designs of products that could have variants as well.
Benefits of this approach is manifold:
Modern day 3D CAD Systems, such as SolidWorks, have built-in/ add-on products functionalities that help capture knowledge based on rules defined by users as shown in Fig. 1. Part features and their dimensions are captured to create rules with facility for decision making.
Additionally, spreadsheet calculations driven dimensional mapping enables design engineers to develop 3D models of their designs faster. Microsoft Excel driven Design Table, as shown in Fig.2 enhances the power of design engineers to embed their calculations to drive design dimensions.
In these approaches, not a single line of programming code needs to be written to develop designs ! Integrating such spreadsheet based calculations with configuration of parts/ assemblies (product variants) gives powerful alternatives to designers for automating designs.
For example, the automobile brake rotor model shown in Fig. 4 facilitates design and drawing automation for a family of rotors at a fraction of the time required to produce the same manually. Configuration Manager ensures that the casting and machining drawings come out of one integrated design database, thereby reducing time, errors and increasing productivity.
Drawing Automation – Recipe for higher productivity
With Open architecture and user-friendly programming approach offered by mid-range 3D CAD software such as SolidWorks, high level Design and Drawing Automation is now within the reach of Engineering Organisation at a fraction of the cost of investment in ‘high-end’ CAD software of yore.
Customers, for example, in the power sector, have derived huge benefits in time savings and cost savings by employing design automation, even at the RFQ Stage. Boiler assemblies, Pressure parts, pressure vessels, steel structural supports, plant engineering functions, material handling equipment design are some of the areas that have already witnessed rapid deployment of design automation as a framework for reducing development cycle time.
Imagine a Crane manufacturer getting the customer requirement via Web, and then triggering the automation process of assembling the crane in 3D, developing the General Arrange Drawing of the assembly and individual part drawings of required components, exporting the Bill of Materials for cost estimation and providing a proposal to the customer in a few minutes! Add to that, the manufacturing process drawing automation, running weld length estimation and stage wise drawings provided to the manufacturing team, once the order is obtained, and we have a winning combination of higher productivity, error-free process and above all capturing all essential data available across the organization for better re-use.
3D CAD has matured with high levels of technology integration, enabling engineering corporations to adopt a risk free approach to product development in the fastest manner possible. Only the challenges of assimilating the knowledge and securing the same remain. 3D CAD Design and Drawing Automation has come of age for large-scale adoption for higher productivity. It comes with no strings attached !
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