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 Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).

But first, What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing is the process of creating a part by laying down a series of successive cross-sections (a 2D “sliced” section of a part). It came into the manufacturing world about 35 years ago in the early 1980s, and was adapted more widely later in the decade. Another common term used to describe additive manufacturing is 3D Printing. A term which originally referred to a specific process, but is now used to describe all similar technologies.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of 3D Printing, What is Selective Laser Sintering?

It 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.  And, in 2001, DTM was purchased by their largest competitor, 3D systems.

What Are the Advantages of this Process?

SLS is quick. It’s one of the fastest rapid prototyping techniques. Though, relatively speaking, most techniques are fast. SLS also has the widest array of usable materials. Theoretically, just about any powdered material can be used to produce parts. In addition, it can potentially be one of the most accurate rapid prototyping processes – the major limiting factor being the particle size of the powdered material.

Because parts are created in a bed of material, there is no need to use support structures like in other forms of rapid prototyping. This helps to avoid secondary operations and machining. Another advantage of the material bed is the ability to stack multiple parts into the build envelope. This can greatly increase the throughput of a SLS machine.

What Are the Disadvantages of this Process?

Of the commercially available rapid prototyping machines, those that use the Selective Laser Sintering technique tend to have the largest price tag. This is usually due to the scale production these machines are designed for, making them much larger than others.

SLS can be very messy. The material used is a bed of powdered material and, if not properly contained, will get EVERYWHERE. In addition, breathing in powdered metals and polymers can potentially be very hazardous to one’s health; though most machines account for this, it is certainly something to be cognizant of when manufacturing.

Unlike other manufacturing processes, SLS limits each part to a single material. This means parts printed on SLS machines will be limited to those with uniform material properties throughout.

As materials aren’t fully melted, full density parts are not created through this process. Thus, parts will be weaker than those created with traditional manufacturing processes, although full density parts can be created through similar manufacturing processes, such as SLM.

In Conclusion

There are quite a few different ways to 3D print a part, with unique advantages and disadvantages of each process. This post is part of a series, discussing the different techniques. Thanks for reading!

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. […]

In this blog post, we will look into the basics of surface development and gain an understanding of what continuity is. Years ago when I used to teach full time I would tell my students that I called it “continue-ity,” the reason being that you are essentially describing how one surface continues or flows into another surface. Technically, you could describe curves and how they flow with one another as well. So let’s get started.

G0 or Point Continuity is simply when one surface or curve touches another and they share the same boundary.  In the examples below, you can see what this could look like on both curves and surfaces.

G0 Continuity

G0 Continuity

 

G0 Curve Continuity

G0 Curve Continuity

As we progress up the numbers on continuity, keep in mind that the previous number(s) before must exist in order for it to be true. In other words, you cant have G1 continuity unless you at least have G0 continuity. In a sense, it’s a prerequisite.  G1 or Tangent continuity or Angular continuity implies that two faces/surfaces meet along a common edge and that the tangent plane, at each point along the edge, is equal for both faces/surfaces. They share a common angle; the best example of this is a fillet, or a blend with Tangent Continuity or in some cases a Conic.  In the examples below, you can see what this could look like on both curves and surfaces. […]

Siemens PLM Software OfferHere is our latest and final post in our savings series!  Check out these offers from Siemens PLM Software and Tata Technologies, which expire December 28th.  It truly is the best time of year to purchase software for all of your manufacturing and design needs!

Siemens PLM Software Promotions

  • Add  a new product family license to your existing portfolio and receive an additional 15% discount on software and maintenance. For example, if you have an existing NX CAD license, you’ll receive 15% off a license of Teamcenter, CAM, CAE, Solid Edge or Tecnomatix.  This offer is only valid to existing Siemens customers.
  • Get 25% off Teamcenter Rapid Start and maintenance including a single CAD integration with either Autodesk, Solidworks, or Solid Edge. Rapid Start is an easy and cost effective solution that allows companies of any size to get their data under control and enforce common processes.

Terms and conditions apply. Please contact us here or email me at carol.hansen@tatatechnologies.com to inquire about an offer.

Tata Technologies SpecialsTraining and i GET IT promotions

  • Get a free Kindle Fire HD Tablet or a 3D Connexion Space Navigator mouse when you attend the the open enrollment class for NX Essentials for New Users or NX Advanced User.  Click here for more details and to have a sales representative contact you.
  • Our self-paced online learning platform, i GET IT, is now more affordable than ever.  Get 30% off annual subscriptions and learn the latest features and enhancements of Siemens PLM Software and more. Explore what package is right for you and purchase your subscription right online.  Make sure you use the
    coupon code CYBER2016 – valid through Dec. 31st.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later! Take delivery of your software, and let it generate revenue before making any payments.  We’ve partnered with Complete Capital Services to offer clients 12 – 60 month terms on financing products as well as training, maintenance, and implementation services. Don’t forget that IRS Section 179 tax savings can also help.  Let us know you’re interested here.

It’s time to share more specials for the month of December! Check out these offers from Dassault Systèmes and Tata Technologies, which expire December 30th.  It truly is the best time of year to purchase software for all of your manufacturing and design needs!

Dassault Systèmes Promotions

  • Deals on CATIA End Soon!Grow with CATIA: Save up to 35% on all CATIA V5 products and select 3D EXPERIENCE solutions, including configurations such as MD2, CAT, or MDHX, as well as, add-ons and shareables like FPE, MCE, or ASD.
  • CATIA Machining Deal: Save up to 50% on all CATIA Machining portfolios and discover the value of integrated design and manufacturing. CATIA Machining can reduce your programming time and increase your competitiveness.

Terms and conditions apply. Please contact us here or email me at carol.hansen@tatatechnologies.com to inquire about an offer.

 

Tata Technologies SpecialsDassault Systemes Training

Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing a variety of promotions and specials for the month of December. Check out these offers from Autodesk and Tata Technologies, which expire December 30th.  It truly is the best time of year to purchase software for all of your manufacturing and design needs!

Autodesk Promotions:Autodesk and Training End of Year Specials

  • Lock in your price and save on multi-year subscriptions. You can save up to 10% on 3-year subscriptions of most Autodesk products, including AutoCAD Mechanical, Product Design Collection, Inventor Professional, and more.
  • For a limited time, get AutoCAD Mechanical for the same price as AutoCAD.  AutoCAD Mechanical includes all the functionality of AutoCAD, plus libraries of standard-based parts and tools to help accelerate your mechanical design process. This offer starts as low as $1400/year.
  • If your subscription contract renewed or is due for renewal between November 1st and April 2017, you are eligible to add new subscriptions to Vault Professional and receive a 40% discount.  In addition, you can add new subscriptions to Product Design Collection and receive a 15% discount.

Terms and conditions apply. Please contact us here or email us at autodesk@tatatechnologies.com to inquire about an offer.

Tata Technologies Specials:

Training and i GET IT promotions

 

  • Get a free Kindle Fire HD Tablet or a 3D Connexion Space Navigator mouse when you attend the Inventor Essentials class.  Click here for more details and to have a sales representative contact you.
  • Our self-paced online learning platform, i GET IT, is now more affordable than ever.  Get 30% off annual subscriptions and learn the latest features and enhancements of Autodesk software and more. Explore what package is right for you and purchase your subscription right online.  Make sure you use the coupon code CYBER2016 – valid through Dec. 31st.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later! Take delivery of your software, and let it generate revenue before making any payments.  We’ve partnered with Complete Capital Services to offer clients 12 – 60 month terms on financing products as well as training, maintenance, and implementation services. Don’t forget that IRS Section 179 tax savings can also help.  Let us know you’re interested here.

Space: the final frontier!

…at least that is how I am beginning to feel as design software and its features evolve. In this post, I want to talk about the basics – specifically the basics of component design.

The age-old question will arise at times: do I begin the design at 0,0,0 or do I design the component in its assembly position? Does it matter? Well, yes and no. With most CAD software packages, you have the ability to constrain or mate the feature to the component it is mating to. So technically, almost every component can be designed at 0,0,0 and then just assembled when you are done, as long as you have a mating condition to work with. This method is typically referred to as Bottom Up design. You see this most often in design of off-the-shelf items you would basically plug and play as needed, e.g. Fasteners, Tubing, Brackets, etc.

Fasteners

Fasteners

The alternative to this type of design is when you have a group of components that don’t necessarily mate together but need to come into the correct assembly position every time they are inserted. This method is typically referred to as Top Down design.  In the Automotive realm of design, all of the body panels are designed using a top down method.  Generally you will hear the term “designed in body position,” which indicates it is a top down design.

The key to working on a top down design is that every component is designed using a common axis system, aka common 0,0,0 location. The major systems in a vehicle that are used in other vehicles as well will be developed using a common axis system that won’t be the vehicle axis system.  For example, an engine would maybe have an axis system built at the rear face of the block and the centerline of the crank. […]

When we talk with customers that may have a need to enhance their PLM technology or methods, there are commonly two different schools of thought regarding the subject.  Generally companies start the conversation with one of two different focuses: either CAD-focused or process-focused.

CAD-centric companies are the ones who rely heavily on design and engineering work to support their business.  They generate a lot of CAD data, and eventually this CAD data becomes a real pain to manage effectively with manual processes.  Things get lost, data is hard to locate, design reuse is only marginally successful, and the release process has a lower level of confidence.  These companies usually start thinking about PLM because they need to get their CAD data under control.  They usually start PLM with a minimal approach that is just sufficient to tackle the obvious problem of CAD data management.  Sometimes other areas of PLM are discussed, but are “planned” for a later phase, which inevitably turns into a “much later” phase which still hasn’t happened. What they have done is grease the squeaky wheel while ignoring the corroding frame that is potentially a much bigger problem. CAD-centric companies often benefit from taking step back to look at their processes; many times they will find that is where the biggest problems lie.

BOMs are often associated with CAD geometry, but many times this isn't the case.

BOMs are often associated with CAD geometry, but many times this isn’t the case.

Companies that don’t deal with a lot of CAD data can often realize the benefits of PLM from a process improvement perspective. Product introductions, project management, BOM management, customer requirements, change management, and quality management are just some areas that PLM can help improve. Many process-focused companies already have systems in place to address these topics, but they are often not optimized, and usually not connected.  They tend to be their own individual silos of work or information, which slows the overall “get to market” process, and reduces the overall effectiveness of the business.  These companies might not have the obvious “squeaky wheel” of CAD to manage, but they have PLM challenges just the same.  The key to improvement with them is to identify the challenges and actually do something about them.

In either case, Tata Technologies has the people and processes to help identify and quantify your company’s biggest challenges through our PLM Analytics process.  This process was developed specifically to address the challenges companies have in identifying and quantifying areas for PLM improvement.  If you’re interested in better identifying areas of improvement for your company’s PLM process, just let us know.  We’re here to help.

 

Predictive Engineering Analytics is a must in current product design and is required to integrate all the multi disciplinary inputs present in today’s complicated products. In the words of Siemens:

“Predictive Engineering Analytics (PEA) is the application of multi-discipline simulation and test, combined with intelligent reporting and data analytics, to develop digital twins that can predict the behavior of products across all performance attributes, throughout the product lifecycle.”

In the above quote, the concept of a digital twin is important; this is the goal of having a complete digital representation of a physical product throughout its design, manufacturing and in-service lifecycle. Such a digital twin can accurately predict all behaviors of the physical product.

There are five key ways that Simcenter(TM) helps achieve a digital twin.

  1. Simcenter(TM) has an integrated Engineering Desktop environment, which allows all pre- and post-processing operations to be carried out. This environment has best-in-class geometry editing tools, comprehensive meshing, and an ability to associate the analysis model to design data.
  2. The environment is completely extendable and can be scaled from simple to complex problems. The benefits include a common user interface and the capability to create automated routines for common simulation problems.
  3. Simcenter(TM) can be linked into other integrated products and engineering systems. This enables simulation data management and allows links to be established to test data, 1D simulations, and 3D CAD. Engineers now have confidence that the behaviors predicted by the digital twin correlate with real life.
  4. The solution produces a common environment across all engineering departments. This allows knowledge to be captured, automated, and then used by a broader team. Specific solutions and best practices become entrenched in the organization, allowing for more consistent design processes. Training requirements are also reduced.
  5. Simcenter(TM) leverages the extensive industry knowledge and capabilities of the Siemens PLM broader portfolio.

If we look at the specific functions that Simcenter(TM) can cover, here is a quote and graphic from a Siemens presentation:

picture2picture1picture4

Another unique feature of the Simcenter(TM) solution is its open platform capability. The solution can be used as the primary pre- and postprocessor for Siemens PLM Solvers, NX Nastran and LMS Samcef, or for popular third party solvers, such as Abaqus, ANSYS, LS-DYNA, and MSC Nastran. This is illustrated in another graphic from a Siemens presentation: […]

Laws are very useful when it comes to wanting to control something that has a known variance in it.  For example, if I were a designer and needed a linear surface that begins at one angle at one end of the guide curve and ends with a different angle. Without the ability to do this, you would have to create two surfaces and do some sort of transition surface in between them. In this video below, I will run a linear surface using a simple law on the angle value to take it from 15 degrees and one end to 45 degrees at the other end.

In this case I used a linear style law, and as you see, when I looked at the surface from a plan view (from above) the angle direction was linear from the 15 deg to the 45 deg.  Below, I will show what would have happened if I had done it as an “S Type” law by modifying the law.

In the image below you can see them if they are overlayed over each other. The surface highlighted is the S Type law and as you can see it definitely has an “S” shape for the transition in between the 2 knows angles.

Both Law Types

Both Law Types

You’re probably thinking, “What if I wanted a specific angle somewhere in the middle of the transition?” This gets a little trickier. In that case you would use an Advanced Law.

In order to used the advanced type law, you have to first develop it.  The easiest way I have found to do this is with a sketch.  In the example below, I am showing what the sketch would look like for the original linear law. […]

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