CAD Functionalities;Maximum Utility for Product Designing
“You convert drafts and drawings into CAD models, you develop detailed fabrication drawings, you validate the design concepts, but how differently do you do them every time? Do you ever realize that Autodesk and Dassault Systemes roll out new functionalities with new versions of AutoCAD or SolidWorks, and you get acquainted with all without even realizing it?”
Upon retrospection, we, design engineers belonging to any industry,would realize that 3D printing has revamped our approach of product designing than it used to be a few years ago. Today, more generative shapes and complex designs are acceptable, and the updates have come so subtly;that we probably don’t even realize the change. Manufacturing friendly objects are created in CAD with PMI modeling, while PLM vaults enable smart design data availability and storage.
However, unless we, industrial or mechanical product design engineers, do not realize the importance of these countless CAD functionalities, we won’t be able to design products that are economically fair, ergonomically rich and technically sound. Let us take a walk on how various functionalities remain significant at every stage of product design and development, and address our designing as well as manufacturing needs in spite of quiet a few inherent challenges.
2D starts the functionalities
While all the software updates are rolled out let us not forget that product design or initial concept digitization starts with 2D drawing and then gradually developed into a 3D CAD model for downstream processes. Entire manufacturing industry have found ways to convert 2D CAD drafts to 3D assembly modeling by dropping the redesigning part with PMI and sometimes the CAD models are rebuilt completely. While other times, in case of automotive components, like gears, 2D gets completely redesigned when it is transformed into 3D. Such transformation demands good skills and wide knowledge-base of CAD features for efficient conversion.
3D clarifies the design to come
For one, 3D modeling surely gives a better view to manufactures in imagining what product is being manufactured and how the final shape will be achieved. Secondly, 3D printing, which has emerged from 3D prototyping ability, has enabled the designers and manufacturers to recognize and embrace the shapes that weren’t considered to be sustainable earlier.
In a nutshell, additive manufacturing has enabled designers to have a larger horizon for design exploration and made impossible industrial design possible. However, it also has intensified the CAD needs and capabilities which clearly mean that the utility has upgraded. But the only challenge standing in the way is the fact that current CAD platforms are built with an understanding of designs that we have. The Lattice shapes generated with additive manufacturing capabilities is hard to define and model with solid geometry. But CAD software giants are exploring various options to overcome such modeling challenge.
PDF in 3D is a popular concept
Another important aspect with CAD is 3D pdf. Though the functionality of exporting a 3D model to pdf was available even in SolidWorks 2013, it has recently gained popularity as it has a better accessibility by anyone across the product development value chain. It basically elevates the 2D drawing with dimensioning and tolerances projected in 3D. When you click on the highlights, you can view the feature, dimensions, tolerance and everything in 3D. This 3D pdf can be rotated and also be viewed for inner views.
All the design details are intact with 3D drawings when exported to pdf and can be printed easily in 3D on a paper. It is almost like a 3D model on paper instead of the computer screen. All in all, it’s a better way of looking at an object in 3D and in non-editable pdf files.
One stop for all information
Model Based Definition [MBD] is becoming increasingly popular because of the complete set of information stored in it – design or manufacturing. One single 3D model file holds all the product information that is usually put in different files especially when it is about visualization, rendering or inspection data. This makes it easier for the design engineer to connect and communicate with inter-team members for product development.
Let’s say, a PMI annotated model will have information related to BOMs, order quantities and other manufacturing perquisites. So when it comes to sharing data with manufacturing teams, communication is seamless and very accurate leaving no scope of misinterpretation. Manufacturing companies are realizing that PMI annotated models are productive in conveying information than emails and spreadsheets. PMI annotations and PLM together are creating wonders as far as product development is concerned. But the challenge with MBD or PLM is manufacturers do not have enough resources to leverage these options. As a result most manufactures need to involve extra resources or delay their orders with a fear of losing the customer.
Bringing it all together
Working with CAD, and a close watch on every new update that is rolled out, will bring you to a conclusion that these updates have become an integral part of designing and modeling. We adopt them even without realizing it.
But a design consultant, who has worked with multitude of CAD platforms, can help you realize all the functionalities and help you make the most of your design concepts. Developing 3D models or converting them to MBD or PMI annotation, creating PLM vaults are kind of day-in and day-out job for design support staff engineers and can help you with evolving methods of industrial product designing.
We might not realize that with gradual CAD evolution, we have come a long way from 2D drawings to 3D models and 3D PDF, and finally today at 3D printing. We, product design engineers, today, have created fully functional products that were once impossible designs and all this is possible because of a gradual evolution of CAD functionalities as it happened over the years.
About Author:(Guest Post)
Gaurang Trivedi is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. Besides, donning multiple hats, as a website manager and marketing in charge, he also oversees the editorial content, coordinating and managing the website, its news sections, blogs and social media promotions as well.