How many times has the first design iteration submitted to FEA modeling passed the design criteria?

The answer is close to zero, but even if it does happen by stroke of fortune, the design is not the optimal design – which means that although design requirements are met and validated by FEA, there is always scope of improvement either in terms of cost or in terms of performance. In general, it is not unusual to reach the optimal design in 15 to 20 iterations.

An analyst know the pain of creating a detailed finite element simulation model. Most of the steps involved, such as geometry cleaning and meshing, are very time-consuming, and they are primarily driven by geometry. Let’s look at the workflow in more detail:

An analyst in automotive industry often performs finite element modeling work in Hypermesh, stress analysis in Abaqus, optimization in Optistruct, and durability in Fe-Safe or N-code. An analyst in the aerospace industry often performs CAD composites work in CATIA, finite element modeling in Abaqus CAE, stress analysis in Abaqus or Nastran, and durability in Fe-Safe. An analyst working in other industries has his own suite of FEA tools to work with. The entire process requires data flow from one simulation code to the other. This means output from one code serves as an input to the other. Quite often this work is also done manually by the analyst.

This means that in situations where optimal design is obtained in 20 iterations as mentioned above, an analyst has to perform geometry cleaning 20 times, create FE meshes manually 20 times, and also transfer the simulation data from one piece of code to the other 20 times. By the time these design iterations are over, the analyst’s face and computer looks somewhat like this:

Let analysts remain as analysts and let simulation robot do the rest!

The traditional job of finite element analyst is to build robust high fidelity simulation models that gives correct results under real life load applications. The analyst is not an FE robot who can perform repetitive tasks with ease. In situations like one mentioned above, it makes perfect sense to let FE analyst create a robust FE model only once per FE code involved. Subsequently introduce a simulation robot that can capture hidden steps and workflow, create a script and execute that script multiple times. This simulation robot is called ISight. […]

Inventor 2017 R2 has introduced some useful new ballooning functionality in addition to some techniques you may not have been previously aware of.  Balloon sorting has been introduced this release, and works very well in cases where multiple balloons have been attached into one grouping.  Let’s take a look at the steps to accomplish this:

balloons1

1. Typically, balloons might look like this to start.

 

balloons2

2.Right click the balloon you want the others attached to and select one of the “attach” options.

 

balloons3

3. Pick the other items you want attached.

 

balloons4

4. Right click the balloon group and select “Sort Balloons”.

 

balloons5

5. The result should look something like this after deleting the previous balloons.

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 Stereolithography.

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). This technology came into the manufacturing world about 35 years ago in the early 1980s, and was adapted more widely later in the decade. A more 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 Stereolithography?

Stereolithography is the process of building an object by curing layers of a photopolymer, which is a polymer that changes properties when exposed to light (usually ultraviolet light). Typically this causes the material to solidify, or cure.

This technique uses a bath or vat of material. An Ultraviolet Laser will cure a layer of photopolymer on a platform. The platform is then lowered into the bath, and another layer of material is cured over the top of it.

A variation on this technique, referred to as Poly or Multi-Jet printing, has a slight modification to the process. Instead of using a bath of material, Jet printing uses separate reservoirs of material, which are fed through a UV laser. The material reservoirs in this process are quite similar to inkjet printer cartridges, and function similarly to an inkjet printer. This technique was developed by Objet Technologies, which was acquired by Stratasys in 2012.

What Are the Advantages of this Process?

Stereolithography is fast. Working prototypes can easily be manufactured within a short period of time. This, however, is greatly dependent on the overall size of the part.

SLA is one of the most common rapid prototyping techniques used today. It has been widely adopted by a large variety of industries, from medical, to automotive, to consumer products.

The SLA process allows for multiple materials to be used on one part. This means that a single part can have many several different structural characteristics and colors, depending on where material is deposited. In addition, all of the materials used in SLA are cured through the same process. This allows for materials to be blended during manufacturing, which can be used to create custom structural characteristics. It should be noted, however, that this is only available with either the MultiJet or PolyJet SLA machines.

Of the all the technologies available, SLA is considered to be the most accurate. Capable of holding tolerances under 20 microns, accuracy is one of the largest benefits to this technique.

What Are the Disadvantages of this Process?

Historically, due to the specialized nature of the photopolymers used in this process, material costs were very high compared to other prototyping processes.  They could be anywhere from $80 to over $200 per pound. The cost of a machine is considerably large as well, ranging anywhere from $10k to well over $100k. Though recently, a renewed interest in the technology has introduced more consumer grade SLA machines, which has helped to drive down prices. New material manufacturers have also appeared in recent years (spot-A Materials and MakerJuice Labs), which has cut prices drastically.

Stereolithography is a process that requires the use of a support structure. This means that any part produced with this technique will require a secondary operation post-fabrication.

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 the first part of a series, discussing the different techniques. Thanks for reading!

Managing and tracking Teamcenter administrative data across multiple environments was never easy. Companies have relied on a wide variety of solutions for this – from manual process-based solutions like cheat sheets to automated custom build scripts to wrap numerous Siemens administrative utilities together. Some companies had a great deal of success in establishing a corporate standard Teamcenter environment from scratch using custom solutions; even for them, however, tracking the changes to admin data inside their Teamcenter environments or comparing admin data between different environments was a very tedious process. Not anymore, with the new set of admin data management capabilities Siemens introduced with Teamcenter 11.2

Now, we can easily perform the following four broad scenarios on nine types of administrative data (Access Manager rules, Organization data, Preferences, Projects, Revision rules, Saved queries, Style sheets, Subscriptions and Workflows), both in UI-based Teamcenter Environment Manager (TEM) and command line utilities modes.

1.      Analyzing how administration data is configured in any environment

A detailed administrative data report can be generated for any Teamcenter environment with all nine admin categories or with a few selected categories, or even a partial set from a specific category based on the filter set. These reports are static HTML reports and don’t have a live connection to the Teamcenter environment. These reports can be used to:

  • Document and review admin data configurations of any environment
  • Troubleshoot issues with any configuration
  • Include with IR for GTAC analysis of problems
  • Use for periodic reviews of production environments
  • Use as environment hand-off document
  • Use as a training document
  • Use to capture snapshots of admin data configurations at specific points in time

2.      Copying entire administration data or a subset from one environment to another

We can export administration data from one site and import it to another. This is very useful when we must ensure that one environment is configured the same as another, such as a test or training environment. We can also set up teams to work on specific parts of the administrative data in different test environments and then export only the administration data that changed from that environment. We can then consolidate the changes made by different teams by importing all of the administration data from multiple export packages into one environment. During the import, a dry run mode is also available, and it generates a detailed Java doc style report after import describing what changed. The tool also provides five broad categories for conflict resolution and merge during the import, but there is no graphical interface yet for manually overriding specific admin data.

3.      Comparing administration data between two sites

We can generate a report that compares the administration data from a source site to a target site. This can help us to determine the cause of differences in site behavior, determine the differences between customer environment and out of the box Teamcenter environment, quickly check if a new environment established using custom scripts is configured the same as a reference environment, or to see what is common and what is different between sites during a site consolidation effort.

4.      Tracking the impacts to an environment as administration data is imported over time

We can quickly determine when a particular change was introduced using a site’s administration data import history report. This report is automatically generated and maintained upon each successful import to a site.

These new capabilities are part of Siemens’ efforts to reduce the Teamcenter cost of ownership and help companies reduce IT costs through:

  • Setup environments becoming faster by automation instead of manual steps
  • Quicker learning curves by standardized and automated documentation
  • Easier bundling of admin data with software bundles
  • Faster troubleshooting

Siemens hasn’t deprecated any existing admin data utilities with the introduction of these new tools. All custom solutions using existing utilities should continue to work as is. The new tools use TCXML and closure rules behind the scenes, so it brings all related business objects used with admin data as a complete package as defined in the closure rules.

Do you have any questions about the new Teamcenter capabilities? Leave a comment and we’ll help you.

ilogic-snipSometimes CAD can be used to start establishing PLM practices. Since PLM systems rely on data to be effective, ensuring consistent and correctly-entered information is paramount. Things like classification with properties and meta-data can rely on CAD very heavily to be effectively used. For example, let’s consider the classification and data for a machined part. If the part is going to require machining, we could assign it a classification of “Machined.” Since the part is going to be machined, we would want to ensure that “Stock Size” is one piece of meta-data to be tracked. Most CAD systems have a way to ensure this “Stock Size” is at least filled out, and some could even be automated to calculate the stock size without any user intervention. Of course a repeatable logic would need to be utilized, but once that is done, time spent completing stock size calculations and potential errors would be eliminated.

 

Case in point: Utilize iLogic in Autodesk Inventor to calculate stock size for machined parts. Once this is done, users can forget about manually checking all the measurements; all they need to do is flag the part as “Machined” and the system does the rest!

boltvolume

au-2016Autodesk University 2016

November 15th – 17th

There is no better way to connect with your peers across the world than attending a conference like Autodesk University. It’s a valuable chance to talk with people about your circumstances face-to-face. With attendance of over 10,000 users, you have an opportunity to meet up with people who may have already solved your dilemma – or at least understand it like you do. After the conference ends, you’ll walk away with some insight to the question “Are we doing the best we can?”

I’m a 25-year veteran of large user groups like this one, and I still find them very useful. It’s true that they are costly in terms of time and money invested; however, with the right attitude and an agenda in hand, you will reap plenty of rewards. The key is to do your homework prior to attending.

Your company has invested a lot in your software, and attending a conference provides valuable market insights into where your industry and its technology are going. There are thousands of classes, roundtables, and industry-specific events running, not to mention all the main stage presentations. In addition to all the above, there are always vendors attending to show off solutions designed for the technology or products you are most likely utilizing. Walking the floor and uncovering technology you did not know existed is a valuable investment of its own.

So how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your trip?

Make and document a plan

It’s going to be a fast-paced event and each day is full from breakfast to late evening. Make a schedule and have a checklist – it’s easy to get sidetracked. Also take an hour or so off, away from the event, each day to recharge.

It’s a company event

Have meetings before you leave and again after you get back. What did everyone learn? What were the most valuable sessions? Give attendees a chance to share lessons learned with their team members who didn’t get to attend.

Have the checklist with you

Make sure you are achieving all you set out to do and track your progress.

Document

Take a lot of notes and pictures, and don’t be afraid of networking and exchanging information, even if you think you’ll remember it later. Don’t be the guy that gets home and says “I wish I had asked for a business card!”

Follow up after you get home

Develop a professional relationship with the people you met. Connect via email, LinkedIn, and stay connected.

If done right, you and your company will truly benefit from the investment; it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to pass up.

Oh, and one more thing…

Come see Tata Technologies at Autodesk University!

We’ll be at Booth #1644 with product experts, i GET IT online training, and lots of goodies. If you’re attending the conference, stop by and say hello. And if you haven’t registered yet, we have a Halloween treat for you: through October 31st you can register here and put in our special discount code – 300AU16REFAT – to attend at a discounted rate of $1,875!

MANIPULATE DIALOGI often hear customers designing mechanical components say something like “I have assembly design constraints and don’t think I need Kinematics.” The truth is, you may not need them – if you design items that do not move. Kinematics is the study of motion, and even with the standard CATIA V5 Assembly Design constraints, you are limited to a single movement based on a given set of constraints by holding down the right mouse button when using the compass to move an item (holding down the right mouse button respects constraints already applied) or you have the option to check the button in the Manipulate dialog With respect to constraints. 

Below is an example of what can be done with simple assembly constraints and the manipulator and where its limitations are.

 

What if you needed more than one movement to happen at the same time? That is where Kinematics will help. With CATIA V5 Kinematics, you have many, many options for setting up motion.  Each grouping of given movements would be called a mechanism, and within the mechanism you would have joints. CATIA V5 offers every kind of joint I can think of and I have yet to run across anything else I would need.

joints

The joints are groupings of your constraints that can then be controlled by commands; they are very simple to set up. The freedom to have anything move at any given time!  In fact, if you already have constraints defined in your assembly, it has a slick converter option to re-use the work you already have done and add your constraints to joints! Below is just a simple mechanism with multiple joints defined being played to show how the toy excavator product works.

 

Although this is a simple mechanism, the Kinematics package has the ability to do so much more….like analyze the travel of a particular joint and check if the limits have been reached.  If you combine the Kinematics package with the CATIA V5 Space Analysis license you will have the ability to check for clash and clearance between moving parts – which is exactly what most customers need to do! Add in a CATIA V5 DMU Navigator license and you can animate your sections – how cool is that?!

Bottom line: if you need motion and need to know how your motion affects other parts in your assembly, contact us and we will get you moving in the right direction!

 

 

The AutoCAD 2017 Essentials for New Users online training course will teach new users on how to effectively get started with AutoCAD 2017. After completing this course, you will be able to navigate the interface and perform basic commands, create basic drawings, manipulate objects, organize drawings and inquiry commands, alter objects, work with layouts, annotate drawings, work with dimensioning, hatching objects, work with reusable content, create additional drawings objects, plot your drawings, and create drawing templates. This course is also good for experienced users to freshen up on their AutoCAD skills plus used in our Tata Technologies classroom sessions and used to prepare students for the AutoCAD certifications.

The training is available in one comprehensive course AutoCAD 2017 New User Essentials or broken into smaller courses in  the AutoCAD 2017 Essentials Learning Path.

Subscribers to i GET IT Basic and Professional Subscriptions have access to this material automatically. For plan information visit https://www.myigetit.com/plans.

It’s that time of year in the Siemens PLM world.  Siemens NX 11 was released in late August, and new functionality and streamlined tools always gets me excited. This year marks the 10th year I’ve been using Siemens products, which I realize is a short time in our industries, but it does make me feel a bit nostalgic about my introduction to them.design_1

10 years ago, I graduated college with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and gained my first job as a Project Engineer with a company that produced high-end carbon fiber performance parts.  A friend of mine, with whom I had gone to college, was also starting there at around the same time, and when I asked him which design software we would be using, he informed me it would be a product called NX. At that time, not being overly well-versed on all the options for CAD in the marketplace, I was not familiar with Siemens NX and worried that I was about to become experienced in a piece of software that wasn’t widely used.  As I said, I was not very well aware of the true marketplace!

We started on NX 2, and it would be new software for the company so, as the young engineers, we were to prove out what it was really capable of.  From the very beginning, I took to the software much quicker than I ever had when using PTC or Works while in school. NX offered not only ease of use but powerful design tools I had never had access to before. Since we were a manufacturing shop as well, we picked up NX CAM to program our NC Mills and Lathes to produce fixtures and tooling used to create our parts.  Once again, new software, new capability, but nobody knew it, so it fell again to us to learn another part of the software. Eventually, we also procured Femap to do Static and dynamic load analyses on our composite layups to ensure part strength and durability (we were creating carbon fiber prosthetic ankles at that time that had to cycle through millions of steps over the course of a month to pass quality requirements).  So within a year, I had come to know the CAD, CAM, and CAE side of Siemens applications quite well, and I continued to learn and grow with the software during my years there.

design_2

Fast forward 10 years, a few jobs, and countless projects and experiences with Siemens products, and I still find myself impressed.  I remember when Synchronous Technology was first released, and the impact it had on the industry.  I remember year after year of functionality improvement, GUI improvement, dialog improvement, system stability and capability improvements.  I remember the advancement of freeform tools, and the “wows” as users and prospective users found ways to do their jobs they had never seen before.  The Siemens product line itself has continued to grow and become more diverse over that time, delving into every aspect of modern product design, from industrial styling to noise and vibration analyses. Siemens’ acquisitions of industry-leading software companies, and the integration of those technologies into their flagship products, have positioned them as a world leader in digital engineering, digital manufacturing, and Product Lifecycle Management.

I feel lucky that I have been able to touch so many different aspects of the software over the last 10 years, and I am always amazed at the improvements that come with each and every release.

Siemens PLM continues their long history of creating the most powerful and flexible design software in the world today. And as for NX 11, I covered some of the most exciting new features and functionalities in a webinar we hosted just last month. Missed my presentation the first time around? Click here to watch it on demand.

ilogic-iterateA while back, I was visiting a customer with an interesting design challenge. They happened to be a specialty fastener manufacturer, and a big part of their design work includes the development of the part geometry (and associated tooling dies) as it goes through the forging operations to produce the final part. Just imagine that every change of the component from one forming operation to the next must maintain the same part volume. If the bolt’s head is shortened, then it must also increase in diameter to maintain the same volume. When making a bunch of design changes, you can only imagine how many attempts must be made at changing parameters to get the volume correct.

Since this customer is using Autodesk Inventor, there is an automation environment called iLogic that can be used to solve this challenge. With a bit of minor customization in iLogic, an iterative process can be developed to automatically adjust one parameter when another changes.

The following code could be adapted in iLogic to satisfy many similar situations:

Parameter.UpdateAfterChange = False
Dim CurrentVolume As Double
Dim VolumeDelta As Double
Dim OldVolume As Double
Dim PercentChange As Double
'reset the percent to a high value so the routine runs
PercentChange = 10

If HeadDepthChange <> 0 Then
    OldVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
    HeadDepth = HeadDepth - HeadDepthChange
    'iterate until volume nearly matches
    While  Abs(PercentChange) > .00000000001
        RuleParametersOutput()
        InventorVb.DocumentUpdate()
        ThisApplication.ActiveView.Update()
        
        CurrentVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
        VolumeDelta = OldVolume-CurrentVolume
        Percentchange = VolumeDelta / OldVolume
        HeadDia = HeadDia + HeadDia*PercentChange/2
    
    End While

    CurrentVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
    VolumeDelta = OldVolume-CurrentVolume
    Percentchange = VolumeDelta / OldVolume
'    MessageBox.Show(PercentChange , "Final Percent of Change")
    MessageBox.Show("Original Volume = " & OldVolume & "  New Volume = " & CurrentVolume & "  Volume Difference = " & VolumeDelta, "Volume Change")
    
    HeadDepthChange = 0
End If

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