Category "Digital Factory"

This post was originally created in January 2017.

With all the buzz about Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, in the manufacturing world today, there is a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding the common practices and techniques. So, this week’s blog post will address a common type of 3D printing known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).

What is Direct Metal Laser Sintering?

DMLS is actually part of a broader category, commonly referred to as a Granular Based Technique. All granular-based additive manufacturing techniques start with a bed of a powdered material. A laser beam or bonding agent joins the material in a cross-section of the part. Then the platform beneath the bed of material is lowered, and a fresh layer of material is brushed over the top of the cross section. The process is then repeated until a complete part is produced. The first commercialized technique of this category is known as Selective Laser Sintering.

The Selective Laser Sintering technique was developed in the mid-1980s by Dr. Carl Deckard and Dr. Joseph Beaman and the University of Texas at Austin, under DARPA sponsorship. As a result of this, Deckard and Beaman established the DTM Corporation with the explicit purpose of manufacturing SLS machines.  In 2001, DTM was purchased by its largest competitor, 3D Systems.

DMLS is the same process as SLS, though there is an industry distinction between the two, so it is important to make note of this. DMLS is performed using a single metal, whereas SLS can be performed with a wide variety of materials, including metal mixtures (where metal is mixed with substances like polymers and ceramics).

What Are the Advantages of this Process?

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This post was originally written in January of 2017.

With all the buzz about Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, in the manufacturing world today, there is a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding common practices and techniques. This week’s blog post will address a common type of 3D printing known as Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM).

Laminated Object Manufacturing or LOM works by joining layers of material (usually paper or plastic sheet) with an adhesive while a knife or laser cuts cross-sections to build a complete part. Parts are typically coated with a lacquer or sealer after production.

What Are the Advantages of this Process? […]

It always amazes me, the sheer complexity of the task.  We must take a detailed engineering design, start with a simple block of metal, and through the application of pressure and process, whittle that block down to a functional product, accurate to within microns.

cam_isv_3

In order to accomplish this feat more efficiently and bring the cost/part down, CNC Machine Tools have added more of everything in recent years. They have become more powerful, allowing for higher cutting speeds that require advanced feed-rate controls to make effective.  They have also become more dynamic, with 5-Axis Mills and multi-spindle, multi-turret Mill-turn machines offering opportunities to minimize part setups, increase accuracy, and reduce overall machining time.

They have, in short, become more complex.  And with that complexity comes additional expense.  With machines that routinely cost multiple hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, the reality of the situation is that a machine collision is just not an option.

There are so many capabilities and options available on a modern NC Machine tool that ensuring that the machine is properly programmed to do what is expected becomes a monumental task.  You need a powerful programming tool to help you create the paths, controlling the cutting tool axis, speeds, engagements and retracts so as to efficiently and accurately machine the product.

Those paths, when initially reviewed by the CAM software, may look feasible from the context of the tool, but upon generating the code and loading it into the controller, often there are motions that are either positional in nature (rotating the part to align the tool), or controller specific (ex. Go home moves) that create collisions with objects such as fixtures or the part, or that require movement beyond the machine’s axis limitations. […]

For those companies struggling to create a 3D Digital Factory, the process can be daunting. NOT modeling the entire factory is the key to achieving your goal. Companies are now adopting the use of a hybrid file with both scanned data and vector objects. “Model what you need, leave the rest in the point cloud.” Although not commonplace yet, it is the direction industry is taking.

Hybrid models offer many advantages. Get the plant on your screen in 3D now! Right now the fastest and most economical way is to scan all of it. From there you can model what needs to be in CAD for other analytic solutions such as ergonomics, robot fit & function, process simulation, and material flow.

chemie22Starting with the laser scan provides a “single point of truth.” Improve overall layout processes by creating drawings and models where none previously existed. Engineers can analyze plant designs, check for clashes between existing conditions, and new design elements by evaluating scanned and vector data together.

Most importantly, the hybrid file democratizes the space in a “single point of truth.”

I regularly go on-site to scan facilities for our customers. Need help developing a plan for your hybrid factory? Leave a comment and let me know.

Laser scanning is quickly becoming a necessary function prior to quoting or preliminary layout. It’s also replacing the traditional “field trips” for survey and manual measurement. 3D laser scanning facilitates the ability to capture data points that can be utilized in 2D or 3D CAD or web based viewers. This provides users with “as-built” math data. With point clouds, engineers can find themselves immersed in a 3D as-is environment with a clear view of everything that wasn’t on the 2D drawing – not to mention this can be done from anywhere on the globe with web viewers.

With the same data accessible to everyone, you can confidently answer questions like: “will the equipment fit in another area of the factory?” or “Have we got room for a mezzanine?” The point cloud has the information on which to base an accurate proposal.

In addition to saving time and money over traditional methods, 3D scanning affords decision-makers with a tool to evaluate as-built conditions, perform assessments, and manage large asset portfolios. In many ways, 3D scanning lays a solid foundation for the overall management on projects.

Do you have any questions about laser scanning or want to share your organization’s experiences with it? Leave a comment and let me know.

The AutoCAD Asset Browser

The AutoCAD Asset Browser

Are factory or facility layouts a common part of your workflow? Factory Design Suite (FDS) allows you to import files from Autodesk’s comprehensive asset database, using either AutoCAD or Inventor Professional for your factory layouts.

Roller Conveyor in AutoCAD

Roller Conveyor in AutoCAD

Simply select the desired asset from the Asset Browser and place it in the desired location. In addition, assets can easily be re-positioned once they are loaded into a layout. This works the same with both Inventor and AutoCAD.

Roller Conveyor in Inventor. Linked to AutoCAD asset.

Roller Conveyor in Inventor. Linked to AutoCAD asset.

With the FDS interoperability workflows, once an asset is placed in your layout, it can easily be synced with all other associated files.

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment if you have any questions or additional thoughts.

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