The world is not flat. Why should the platform you use to develop and manufacture products be? 3D CAD programs give shape to abstract ideas and translate designs into construction data. They make it possible to simulate usage scenarios and create production chains—representing the tangible side of IT applications. The Bechtle Group’s CAD expertise is provided by its subsidiaries SolidLine, Solidpro und Coffee in Germany, Solid Solutions in Switzerland and planetsoftware in Austria. Their portfolio is built on SOLIDWORKS, one of the world’s leading 3D software systems, developed by the French group Dassault Systèmes.
The HP 3D printing demo centre at Solidpro’s headquarters in Langenau.
If you ran a company specialising in engine and plant construction, your ERP system might contain some two million components. And for each bolt, sprocket and assembly, there are parts lists, prices and suppliers—not to mention geometric 3D data, which are managed in product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. Ideally, your ERP and PLM systems would be linked to optimise resource usage as well as construction, production and logistics processes. Yes, it’s as complicated as it sounds. And while the integration of these two systems is part and parcel of end-to-end product management by Bechtle, it is still only a small component of the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem. The platform is capable of much more.
For instance, employees around the world can develop your engines and plants together as a team, accessing the same data no matter where they are, without compromising security. The platform can also be used to develop and deliver operating and maintenance manuals, replacement parts lists, data sheets and product brochures. A range of visualisation options and documentation forms are available, including interactive features.
SOLIDWORKS calls this multi-faceted take on CAD data “3DEXPERIENCE”. Your company would also be able to leverage the same applications to plan and construct the very plants used to build your engines, as well as warehouses and production lines. If it’s three-dimensional, it can be made with SOLIDWORKS—and even toured virtually thanks to simulations.
3D CAD systems are laying the groundwork for our future reality—from parts and assemblies to machines, from production plants and factories to entire cities, from simulations and 3D printing to serial production of batches small and large, for prototypes of products and service environments.
In Singapore, Dassault Systèmes is running a pilot project, 3DEXPERIENCity, to facilitate future planning on the basis of today’s reality. This project, the first of its kind worldwide, is capturing the entire city-state in the form of 3D data. Streets, sewer systems, power lines and buildings—all represented as one enormous data model produced by a multitude of stakeholders. The aim of such a digital representation is to promote transparency and better involve all stakeholders when planning future developments. For example, urban planners will be able to insert an architectural model within an existing environment to determine from all angles whether it harmonizes with its surroundings.
The 100 m2 3D printing demo centre houses an HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 print solution.
Back in Langenau and Paderborn, Germany, Solidpro is demonstrating just how easy it is to transform virtual data into reality. But instead of urban planning, its two 3D printing demo centres shine the spotlight on hyper-modern production. Thanks to the latest HP 3D print technology, they are able to build prototypes and enable serial production in virtually no time at all, with minimal footprint. Thirty million droplets per second create voxels—three-dimensional pixels—in a variety of shapes and colours.
In future, as well as plastics, printing materials will also include metals, and may even be translucent or electrically conductive. Prototypes can be printed in a matter of minutes to give engineers tactile proof of whether a construction works or not, or to determine how a product feels and handles. This technology also enables fast, high-quality serial production, with round-the-clock operations possible on just a few square metres. The result is the emergence of new, flexible manufacturing hubs that closely link design and production, and can produce the small batch sizes characteristic of Industry 4.0.
While product prototyping is an established—and now streamlined—practice, nothing comparable exists for services. Furtwangen University has set its sights on changing that, collaborating with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, companies from various industries and SolidLine specialists to research and develop techniques to prototype services. The goal is to test services by creating experiences using virtual and augmented reality based on 3D CAD applications. Their efforts will usher in the next dimension of prototyping.
Published on Feb 12, 2019.