SolidWorks offers a number of software tools to help turn the threats of global competition and cut-rate manufacturing into a product development advantage. These tools leverage design collaboration, reuse, and publishing processes. Such tools facilitate the sharing of design information among team members regardless of their location, function, or even the type of data they generate – without conducting repetitive manual file conversions, translations, and distributions.
The design team for Unicell, a leading truck body design and manufacturing company, found these tools invaluable to their job. The team was tasked with the development of a zero-emissions delivery truck, the QuickSider™, for end customer Purolator Courier Ltd., Canada’s leading overnight courier.
A team comprising six partners used a web-enabled version of PDMWorks Enterprise software to collaborate on the development of the QuickSider, an all-electric, lightweight composite urban delivery vehicle.
The truck is an all-electric, lightweight composite urban delivery vehicle. The team consisted of ArvinMeritor, a truck suspension company, Inertia Engineering + Design, Inc. (IE+D), and three other consultants. The lead contractor, IE+D President and Principal Engineer Ray Minato understood that a project involving a half-dozen separate engineering entities — all operating in different CAD systems from various locations and producing diverse types of data — would take longer to complete and carry a greater probability for error without creating a single product data management (PDM) platform. Thus, the team implemented a Web-enabled version of PDMWorks® Enterprise software. It enabled the project engineers and manufacturing specialists to access, manage, and collaborate with diverse types of product design information from within one data environment.
While an open, flexible PDM system is one step for global operation, other specialized tools can also ease collaboration with or without a central PDM system. A visual representation of product designs, for example, can reduce the communication obstacles of differing languages and data. eDrawings® software can deliver 2D drawings and 3D models with multiple view, geometry rotation, and redline markup capabilities in a compact, self-executing email file attachment.
The following are other SolidWorks PDM system tools:
– Design Checker will ensure drawings adhere to pre-set standards;
– DFMXpress evaluates the manufacturability of machined parts;
– Draft analysis tools check draft, thicknesses, and undercuts in cast and molded parts;
– Sheet-metal design tools ensure that bend table information and flat patterns are correctly formatted for laser-cutting, punching, and other machining operations;
– TolAnalyst automatically analyses tolerance stack-up and resolves potential assembly fit issues;
– DimXpert automates part dimensioning and tolerances per industry or company standards.
– Integrated electrical design and mechanical design (ECAD/MCAD) tools, such as CircuitWorks and SolidWorks software, access mechanical design geometry and electrical PCB design layouts within the same environment.
Global design teams also need access to models of approved designs and standard parts in order to focus their efforts on the innovative aspects of their designs. Widely compatible 3D CAD systems, robust data translation tools, comprehensive parts libraries, and design configuration and automation tools facilitate these efforts.
These tools let you vary the values of design dimensions or parameters to accommodate a range of capacities, lengths, and weights, and constitute the first step toward “design automation,” once known as knowledge-based engineering. Entering a set of design parameters into design automation applications like the DriveWorksXpress tool aids in the creation of product variants.
You can create your own design libraries, use a purchased library such as SolidWorks Toolbox, or download models of commonly used components from major manufacturers online via 3DContentCentral.com. Applications like SolidWorks Design ClipArt let you reuse views, blocks, tables, and images from AutoCAD drawings and SolidWorks features and sketches in future designs.
The PCB model for this ECCO Backup Alarm was created using CircuitWorks.
Fresh ideas that improve products often can reside outside the design department. For instance, engineers with ECCO (Electronic Controls Company), a leading manufacturer of custom light-bars for emergency vehicles and back-up warning alarms and lights, use several SolidWorks publishing tools to support functions that take place outside of product design. PhotoWorks software can create photo-realistically rendered images for use by a Marketing Department in sales catalogs and exploded line drawings for use in product documentation. These tools also create assembly instructions in PDF format, which manufacturing technicians view on shop floor monitors.
Other publishing programs include 3DVIA Composer, which enables non-CAD users to create associative 2D and 3D product documentation from 3D CAD data; communications tools like eDrawings and Adobe 3D PDF to send compact 3D content through email for viewing without a CAD system; and animation packages, which support the creation of animated movies to show how a product will move, perform, and operate.
Filed Under: 3D CAD, Software