Digital Prototyping – Introduction
These days, manufacturing companies face a daunting challenge. They must customize and develop products at a faster rate to satisfy their customers’ needs for quality, reliable, and cost-effective solutions. To move up the ladder and grab the top position in this competitive world, manufacturing companies need to focus on improving the product development process by using the latest and most innovative technology (especially during “crunch” time). Further, by adopting techniques such as new production strategies, new directorial approaches, new enterprise processes, and new enabling technology, companies will find their growth reflected in their time-to market for their products.
During the initial product development process in a manufacturing company, a concept is developed based upon a user request or a market survey and later converted into a manufacturing product. The methods used to get the product to market vary based on the technology the company adopts.
It is essential for companies to choose the best-in-class technology to bring products to market at a faster rate. If you recall, the earlier product development process involved the creation of a prototype, namely a physical model made from clay. This early method was then replaced by a better way to visualize models—the Rapid Prototyping technique. This techniques is known by different names based on the technologies involved, such as Solid Free Form Fabrication, Automated Free Form Fabrication, 3D printing, layer-based manufacturing, laser prototyping, and additive manufacturing.
Generally the process of prototyping involves the quick building of a prototype or working model for the purpose of testing various design features, including ideas, concepts, functionality, output, and performance. Based on the feedback given by customers regarding the performance of the model, changes are incorporated and better designs are developed.
Due to its ability to speed up the process, rapid prototyping became an essential part of product design for every manufacturer. This technique was believed to be beneficial to every manufacturing company because it reduced the project cost and major risk involved in customer rejection of the product once it had been manufactured.
Today, due to overwhelming developments in the field of 3D modeling, manufacturers have realized that in order to stay competitive in the market and bring down the product development cost and time to market, better solutions need to be adopted.
These “better solutions” include the ability to simulate and test the model before it is manufactured. To better understand this, an independent organization, Aberdeen Group, A Hart–Hanks Company, surveyed more than 200 manufacturers about their use of simulation and testing throughout product design and development. The result of Aberdeen’s research reflects that digital prototyping would be a solution. You can read Aberdeen’s report at www.aberdeen.com.
Digital prototyping is a digital simulation of a product, which can be used to test the form, fit, and function. The digital prototype becomes more and more “real” as all associated conceptual, mechanical, and electrical design data are integrated. Further, it gives the conceptual design, engineering, and manufacturing departments the ability to virtually explore a complete product before it is made available.
Digital prototyping gives manufacturers an excellent opportunity to explore alternative solutions, thereby making early improvements and finding new ideas, which can be accomplished faster and cheaper. Digital prototyping mainly aims to influence product development in:
* Time to market
* Reduced cost of product
* Increased safety of product
* Improved product quality
* Fewer costly physical prototypes
Digital prototyping gives users the ability to design a complete product and simulate how it will work under real-world conditions before it is built. Digital Prototyping solutions bring design data from all stages of the product development process, thereby ensuring a single digital model. This model is later used by engineers to visualize, analyze, and optimize before producing a physical prototype. To support Digital Prototyping, Autodesk has different solutions for Conceptual Design, Engineering, Data Management, Manufacturing, and Supply Chain Management.
Autodesk® AliasStudio™ is a conceptual design tool for creating sketches and 3D concept models digitally in an environment that is easy for any team to incorporate in digital prototyping. The software addresses conceptual design, which can support concept sketching, concept illustration, rapid 2D to 3D integration (AliasStudio – Autodesk Inventor®), and flexible modeling followed by reverse engineering and hybrid modeling. Click here to learn more about Autodesk AliasStudio.
Autodesk tools such as AutoCAD® Mechanical and AutoCAD® Electrical provide seamless, bidirectional interoperability between mechanical and electrical teams, which helps in the effective creation of a complete digital prototype. Further, tools such as Autodesk Inventor, which is the foundation software for digital prototyping, can help you create accurate 3D digital prototypes that enable users to validate design and engineering data as they work and help minimize the need for costly physical prototypes and rework before they are sent to manufacturing. Some of the functions supported are Wires, Cables and Ribbon Cable Routing, Pipe and Hose Routing, Frame Design, Simulation, Sheet Metal Design, Design Calculators, Design Review, Stress Analysis, Standard Content, Engineering Handbook, and more.
Data management plays a crucial role in any project, because different data needs to be collaborated from various departments in a company. Autodesk® Productstream® software securely stores and manages the engineering design data and related documents and bridges the different workgroups in the Digital Prototyping workflow. This tool builds a digital prototype which moves seamlessly in connecting the design and manufacturing workgroups.
To learn more, visit http://autodesk.com/productstream.
Getting products to market at a faster rate has been a serious issue for many industrial manufacturers. Switching to digital prototyping can provide a better solution, which in turn will change the way designers think about the design process by removing obstacles between the various departments that integrate with manufacturing team. The range of tools available for manufacturing solutions is Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, Autodesk Productstream, and Autodesk Streamline®. Many manufacturing companies report that ROI is high after implementing digital prototyping. Further, by adopting an integrated CAM solution within the Autodesk suite of products, you will strengthen the manufacturing domain.
Supply chain and presentation
Tools such as Autodesk® Design Review and Autodesk Streamline software allow secure communication and collaboration with various external teams, which otherwise would incur costs associated with different collaboration applications within the digital prototyping environment. The use of DWG True Connect helps different departments to read and write DWG files without the need for translators. Once the required digital models are prepared, they are taken into Autodesk® Showcase™ to prepare high-definition images which can be used for visual communication to the market. Further, tools such as Autodesk® 3ds Max® and Autodesk® Maya® help manufacturers to render, animate, and visualize the digital prototype for presentation and sales departments without the need for a physical prototype.
Many organizations adopt different directions in the evolution of their product development process. A frequent problem is the lack of a common framework for the best practices of product development. By adopting the workflow in digital prototyping, manufacturing companies have experienced greater return of investment (ROI) and quicker time to market and reduced costly physical prototypes.