Welcome to Part 3 of our End-to-End Workflow Series, covering the design software and simulation toolsets to help you produce better performing products, faster.
Every design has a purpose. The bracket that assembles the satellite; the light switch cover that conceals the electrical innards of walls; the packaging that delivers a product to its user. The function of all designs is important, but great designs offer something more. Whether they contribute to overall system performance, manufacturability, or user experience, great designs are at the core of great products.
Technology advancements promote digital formats in design as an opportunity to deliver greater accuracy and evolve products more quickly. The digital medium also offers greater responsiveness throughout the design process, allowing designers and engineers to implement updates and make modifications faster than ever before. In some cases, full weeks of work have been reduced to a few keystrokes. Pairing digital design with additive manufacturing further amplifies the possibilities of part performance by newly enabling structures and features to be produced that were once deemed un-manufacturable, cost-prohibitive, or both.
Within 3D design there are several different software, approaches and benefits that appeal to different users based on the needs of their application. Each of the solutions discussed below can contribute significant value and reclaimed time to the design process. Which one is right for you?
Software for Organic Design
Geomagic Freeform is an organic design software that features a rich set of hybrid modeling tools to rapidly design organic models with fine, intricate details and prepare the models for manufacturing. Together with Geomagic® Touch X™ or Geomagic® Touch™ haptic devices, which replicate touch through force feedback, Freeform software creates a hands-on design experience that enables users to feel and manipulate the model as if it were made of clay.
Organic 3D modeling invites unparalleled capability by giving designers the full flexibility of advanced design tools within a realistic, touch-based environment. Geomagic Freeform is a favorite design software across industry lines, from consumer goods to healthcare. Some 3D Systems customers report shrinking project timescales from months to weeks simply by transitioning from manual design to digital design. Customers who use Geomagic Freeform for healthcare applications report that the software enables the efficient design of patient-specific 3D models and devices, contributing to improved communication, intuitive medical imaging views through 3D visualization, and personalized patient care.
In manufacturing industries, a workflow that makes digital designs physical through 3D printing enables designers and engineers to assess their designs off-screen and gain new insights that can be implemented and re-evaluated within hours. This is a key aspect of what makes the digital design to manufacturing workflow so powerful and compelling. For the most reliable design and review cycles, it is important to use accurate 3D printers with high CAD fidelity.
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
In the pursuit of better performing products, the advantages offered by additive manufacturing are unparalleled. Additive manufacturing allows engineers to strip out unnecessary weight from their designs, leaving structural integrity unchanged while dramatically improving part performance. This is especially true in industries like aviation, aerospace, automotive and motorsports, where better fuel efficiency drives down operating costs.
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) strategies such as hollowing, topological optimization, internal lattice structures and part consolidation can introduce impressive weight savings and are easily achieved with a number of off the shelf software packages such as 3DXpert and 3DXpert for SOLIDWORKS. 3D Systems customers have reported part weight reductions ranging from 50-70%, which can save companies many hundreds, if not many thousands of dollars each year. These software packages can also help users enhance 3D data for immediate production and avoid costly tryouts through simulation features, which we’ll get into shortly.
CAD/CAM for Tool (Mold, Die) Design
3D Systems’ design software also includes powerful solutions for traditional manufacturing. Cimatron addresses the entire tool making process for both molds and dies from quoting to design, applying engineering changes and NC programming. Cimatron also contains specific design toolsets to help users quickly produce high quality molds and dies with greater complexity. An accelerated tool design workflow can increase a company’s competitive edge in both local and foreign markets by shortening production lead times for a faster time to market. With impressive mold and die design features that take the guesswork out, Cimatron customers report design times that are up to 70% faster when using this richly-featured software.
Mold makers who use Cimatron benefit from a dedicated design toolset for molds including applicative tools for mold components such as sliders, runners, inserts, lifters, cooling channels, and more. Cimatron’s dedicated tools for die makers include blank calculation, strip design, punches design, and die set design, among others. Cimatron also includes built-in analysis tools and NC capabilities to provide an end-to-end solution.
3D Systems’ simulation solutions help users optimize how their design will perform and build to help save time and money when transitioning from design to manufacturing. For example, 3DXpert’s build simulation tool allows users to verify designs, orientation and support structures prior to printing, as well as detect possible printing defects and post-processing impacts. This ensures quality builds and reduces tryouts to shorten the time and cost of achieving a repeatable and accurate manufacturing process.
Simulation capabilities are also part of 3D Systems’ software for traditional manufacturing, Cimatron and GibbsCAM, enabling toolpath simulation as well as machine simulation to predict machine behavior and identify potential errors, collisions or issues, and manufacture with confidence.
Whether you seek to save time and cost on design, improve final part performance, or optimize your process to the fullest, 3D Systems’ design and simulation solutions can help. Click here for more information on our design and simulation solutions and explore the infographic to understand where these processes fall within an end-to-end workflow.
Stay Tuned: In our next post we’ll talk about manufacturing solutions that enable you to expand your production capabilities with access to hardware, software, services and expertise across a full range of technologies and processes.
Previously in this Series: