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Software Update: With New CAM Solutions, Autodesk Adds Final Piece in Design-for-Manufacturing Puzzle

Carl White

 


 

 

 

 

 


Carl White
is Senior Director, Manufacturing Engineering, Autodesk Inc. (San Rafael, CA), a developer of CAD/CAM, 3D modeling and simulation software solutions.


Manufacturing Engineering
: Autodesk has been aggressive in strengthening its manufacturing capabilities, and recently purchased CAM developer Delcam. What makes the CAM-centric Delcam most attractive?

Carl White: For more than 30 years, Autodesk has been developing and providing computer-aided design (CAD) tools to help our customers design. The culmination of any design process, however, is the creation stage. For example, building plans are constructed, movies are produced, and products are manufactured. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is core to moving any product design from the digital to physical world.

The purchase of Delcam is an important step on Autodesk’s path toward delivering a better manufacturing experience. The combination of Autodesk and Delcam will help further the development and implementation of technology for digital manufacturing.

ME: How do Delcam’s offerings complement the Autodesk product lineup, and has Autodesk had a true CAM solution, other than the upcoming CAM 360?

White: Autodesk entered the CAM market in October 2012 with the acquisition of technology and expertise from HSMWorks. Since that time, we’ve integrated HSMWorks with our core manufacturing design tools, Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Fusion 360, and we’ve increased our support for the broad community of HSMWorks users on third-party platforms like SolidWorks.

Meanwhile, CAM 360 will provide the first CAM in the Cloud solution—and the only CAM solution that combines CNC programming, simulation, and design with real-time collaboration and online project and data management in one easy-to-use product.

Our overall strategy is to deliver the best CAM experience on the planet by giving our customers the tools they need on the platforms they want—and Delcam aligns with that strategy.

ME: Will Delcam continue be run independently?

White: Until the closing of the acquisition, Autodesk and Delcam will continue to operate as separate entities. While we cannot comment on specific operational plans for Delcam prior to the close, we are very excited about the prospects for the combination of Autodesk and Delcam. Closing is expected to occur in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015, which begins February 1, 2014.

ME: Simulation for manufacturing is another key Autodesk focus, with recent acquisitions including Firehole Composites. How critical do you see advances in simulation and multiphysics offerings to manufacturing?

White: The lines between design, simulation, and manufacturing are blurring—and we want to introduce technology that provides the most accurate and efficient forms of simulation.

Making simulation accessible and easy-to-use throughout the life of the design—and even to manufacturing—is critical to providing the best experience in composite simulation.

Integrating simulation into design and manufacturing workflows will provide real-time feedback and allow changes to be made quickly and efficiently. We want to allow designers, analysts, and manufacturers to work together, apply simulation technologies without having a PhD, and interpret the results to make the best choice for their design.

Cloud-based CAM 360 offers Autodesk users a way to easily move designs from the digital to the physical world.

ME: Where do you see future growth in manufacturing?

White: With the advent of cloud-based tools, there is a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to tap into nearly unlimited computing power and perform hundreds if not thousands of different iterations of an idea—making considerations such as Designing for Manufacturability easier to achieve.

When you combine the playfield-leveling effect of cloud-powered design tools with other industry trends out there—such as the way 3D printing and other additive manufacturing technologies are streamlining the rapid prototyping and production process—it creates a perfect storm of technology to help designers take a good idea and turn it into a manufactured reality in less time than ever before.

Meanwhile, the factories of today are poised to become more flexible, adaptable, and reconfigurable in order to produce a wider variety of products from within the walls of a single factory, so that they can deliver more personalized and individualized products to consumers.

ME: What do you expect from the manufacturing economy in 2014?

White: As I alluded to in my previous response, the companies that are best able to meet the market demand for individualized, personalized products are going to be the ones who will thrive in this new environment.

For a consumer products manufacturer, that means that instead of producing 100 million smartphones a year that all look virtually the same, they will now offer a high degree of customization and build phones to customer specifications. Potentially, no two phones would be the same.

It also means more local manufacturing. Sneakers, for example, will no longer be manufactured halfway around the world by an anonymous individual—they will be manufactured close to the consumer. We used to know the people who made our products, and consumers are seeking to regain that ‘personal’ connection to the products they buy.

Small-batch manufacturing also means more urban manufacturing. The availability of increasingly affordable 3D printers allows for spaces that normally wouldn’t have been appropriate for a manufacturing facility—say, a loft in Manhattan—to function perfectly well as a small-scale factory.

In responding to these trends, manufacturers will merely be doing what successful businesses have always done: give the market what it is asking for. ME


New Releases

NC simulation developer Spring Technologies (Paris) Jan. 6 announced its updated NCSimul Machine 9.1 software, which includes new composites simulation functionality for CNC programmers.

The result of several years’ collaboration with major aerospace customers, NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 now makes it possible to replicate material-laying processes executed by NC machines. As it does in conventional machining, NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 decodes all types of NC programs, representing the complete machine environment in 3D to identify and analyze programming errors and collisions. The “Composite” option of this version also enables a dynamic representation of fiber-ribbon laying, taking into consideration the 3D form of the carbon fiber. The positioning of each fiber in the ribbon is managed independently.

Updated NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 adds a new composites simulation module and easier integration of its NCdoc manufacturing data management.

NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 alerts users to issues that are specific to the way composites are processed and that are liable to occur on real-world machines: these include fiber steering angle errors generating possible deviation, twisting of taut fiber between the head and the position on the spool, fiber tension issues including speed disparities between fibers or sudden changes of direction creating backwards laying.

The updated package also includes its NCdoc add-on now fully integrated into NCSIMUL Machine 9.1, allowing programmers to use just a few clicks to create a set of documents for the shop floor from machining simulation information, such as tool sheets with associated times, tooling assembly sheets, machining results between operations, and internal check sheets.

SmartCAMcnc (Springfield, OR) on Dec. 12 announced its updated SmartCAM v2014 release that delivers a redesigned and improved user interface that assists in usability, ease of learning and user efficiency, plus additional milling process modeling, toolpath verification and geometry modeling improvements.

SmartCAM v2014 introduces extensive user interface updates that give the product a more modern look and feel while also making it easier to learn and use. Improvements to the milling processes increase toolpath reliability and efficiency, and reduce the number of steps required to re-machine remaining material and generate wireframe profiling toolpath. The ShowCut and ShowPath toolpath verification modules have been enhanced to make better use of standard tooling by providing improved visualization of turning-tool holders, and allowing milling-tool holders to be used with parametrically defined tools. New collision-reporting and holder-checking capabilities also assist users in finding potential problems.


Acquisitions

CAD/CAM and PLM developer PTC (Needham, MA) announced Dec. 30 that it had acquired ThingWorx (Chester County, PA), a developer of applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), for approximately $112 million, plus a possible earn-out of up to $18 million.

PTC will use ThingWorx to speed creation of high-value IoT applications for predictive maintenance and system monitoring. The acquisition is expected to add more than $10 million of revenue in the next 12 months, with $5 million to $7 million of revenue in fiscal year 2014.

As a result of cost synergies and investment plans for ThingWorx, PTC still expects FY14 non-GAAP earnings per share of $2.00 to $2.10. PTC drew $110 million from its credit facility to finance the transaction. ME

Software Update is edited by Patrick Waurzyniak; pwaurzyniak@sme.org.

 

This article was first published in the February 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF


Published Date : 2/1/2014

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