Manufacturing Engineering: What are some of the key trends in CAD/CAM and related manufacturing software, such as generative design, additive and hybrid manufacturing?
Sanjay Thakore: Some of the key trends in manufacturing are brought about by convergence of the design and manufacturing industries. With manufacturers under more pressure than ever to deliver better products faster and at lower cost, the need to connect and automate design and manufacturing processes to reduce iterations, errors, and delivery times is becoming critical.
Cloud computing and mobile technology, in combination with automation, are bringing new means of agile, collaborative working to manufacturing. These trends will dominate in the years to come. Also, emerging technologies like additive manufacturing have created more flexibility for the manufacturing process through design freedom. Additive manufacturing is often complemented with subtractive machining to help achieve design specifications in a hybrid process.
The combination of industry convergence and new manufacturing technology is creating newfound automation opportunities. Complex design and engineering challenges can be solved at a fraction of the cost [of traditional design processes]with generative design technology as featured in Autodesk Fusion 360. Generative design is a design exploration tool that simultaneously generates multiple CAD-ready solutions based on real-world manufacturing constraints, product performance [demands] and cost requirements. Engineers can therefore explore the design space through consideration of multiple materials and manufacturing methods and choose the option that best balances performance and cost requirements.
ME: What’s new in these areas from Autodesk’s production machining area?
Thakore: Fusion 360 is continually growing as a cloud-based manufacturing ecosystem and the team has been busy with significant recent updates. Highlights include improvements for turning from both a tool definition and operations standpoint and an NC programs function to help list, order, and optimize setups and their respective operations before post-processing.
We’ve also launched a new manufacturing extension, which is a bundle of sophisticated Autodesk manufacturing technologies, reimagined and delivered in Fusion 360 to increase production efficiency. When activated, it acts as a hybrid manufacturing environment, letting users perform state-of-the-art processes like complex surface finishing, automated drilling, additive manufacturing, and automated verification workflows.
For more specialist applications, PowerMill is Autodesk’s expert CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining, offering a comprehensive range of tools to enable the manufacture of molds, tools and other complex shapes. Previous releases of PowerMill have improved robustness and safety with technology like collision avoidance using automatic tool-axis tilting.
Most recently, PowerMill 2020 was focused on speed, improving times significantly for toolpath calculation, toolpath simulation and NC program verification. These enhancements will help reduce programming times for faster turnarounds.
ME: How critical is the additive manufacturing element becoming for today’s production machine shops?
Thakore: The emergence of additive manufacturing as a mainstream aspect of making parts has enabled new ways for machine shops to address existing challenges and ways to differentiate their business. First, additive manufacturing builds parts layer by layer—because of this, parts with complex internal structures can be manufactured that would be impossible to make conventionally. As parts are built directly from the CAD design, the time to get parts produced in small production volumes is greatly reduced and without the costs associated with tooling. This can be especially helpful for prototyping.
If today’s machine shops have design in-house and support additive manufacturing, they’re empowered to re-imagine the effectiveness of their existing designs with fast iterations through additive prototyping, and if not, are able to bid for a broader range of parts.
Another key application for additive is fixturing. Take Matsuura UK, which distributes Matsuura CNC centers and HP additive manufacturing equipment. Through the use of generative design in Fusion 360 it was able to reduce the wait time on custom fixtures from weeks to hours. This process gave its customers a unique competitive advantage in addition to making their day-to-day jobs easier by automatically creating custom workpiece-holding and printing these fixtures in a high-strength polymer overnight. This allows machines to start cutting in 24 hours and parts to be delivered in days!
ME: What are some important things CAD/CAM machinists need to learn when tackling hybrid manufacturing?
Thakore: Hybrid technologies can greatly reduce material waste, take less time to produce a part than using subtractive alone, and provide the flexibility of additive while still being able to finish machine surfaces for the final part.
While many machines benefit from in-process verification, this is a must for hybrid machines. Because hybrids print the forms that must be machined, they must complete multiple operation steps in sequence—and it is essential to manage the tolerance stack-up across the different operations. Machinists must first verify that enough stock has been produced before any machining begins. The next step is to optimize the location of the stock for each machining pass, and the final step is to verify that enough material has been removed before moving to the next step.
Planning hybrid manufacturing may include model offsetting for machining allowances, lattice optimization, part orientation and support modeling or generation, laser toolpath programming, build simulation, programming subtractive machining operations, and inspection.
ME: How are metrology/inspection techniques becoming more interwoven and critical to CAM machinists working at a typical job shop or production environment?
Thakore: Using automated inspection routines in CNC machining provides numerous benefits that reduce scrap and improve productivity:
Setup: Work-coordinate setup through inspection can verify the placement and dimensions of stock material, ensuring an NC program is not thrown off by minor differences during machine setup. Verifying the correct positioning of parts loaded by pallets, robots or other automated systems is crucial to accurate machining.
Toolsetting: Inaccuracies in tool position can lead to damage of the tool, workpiece and machine alike. Having the correct tool positioning is as important as having the correct workpiece positioning in order to avoid costly errors.
In-Process: Machinists can monitor machined features in-process to identify errors. This process can identify when the part is outside tolerance, enabling the machine tool to alert the machinist or even to automatically adjust the cutter to compensate. The ability to verify the success of a given pass makes in-process inspection an excellent tool for automation and lights-out machining.
ME: How does the current manufacturing business climate look for many production manufacturing shops?
Thakore: To meet increasing demand, we’re reliant on automation, new technology, and new materials. We’ve seen this materialize as a paradigm shift with discussions around Industry 4.0. Simultaneously, the bespoke nature of products is driven by consumer demand for custom-made products.
It is imperative that companies in the manufacturing space find ways to keep pace with a rapidly changing marketplace to continue to be profitable, as well as develop a workforce that can work alongside and with next-generation technology like Fusion 360 in combination with advancements in hardware and processes. These trends are pushing manufacturers to rethink their strategy and the way they design and manufacture products.
Siemens Launches Opcenter Manufacturing Operations Portfolio
Siemens Digital Industries Software, a unit of Berlin and Munich-based Siemens AG, has released Siemens Opcenter software, a portfolio of software solutions for manufacturing operations management (MOM). Siemens Opcenter expands on Siemens’ MOM software solutions by uniting these products in a single, connected cloud-ready portfolio with a harmonized user experience that can help manufacturers meet demands for production efficiency, quality, visibility and reduced time to production, according to Siemens.
Opcenter integrates MOM capabilities, including advanced planning and scheduling, manufacturing execution, quality management, manufacturing intelligence and performance, and formulation, specification and laboratory management. The new portfolio combines products including Camstar software, SIMATIC IT suite, Preactor, R&D Suite and QMS Professional into a single portfolio that unifies these products and leverages synergies between them. A fully web-based, modern, consistent, and adaptive user interface implemented throughout the Siemens Opcenter portfolio offers a situationally adapted user experience and facilitates implementation of new capabilities and additional components while reducing training efforts, said Siemens.
“Siemens Opcenter is the next logical step given our extensive technological innovation and MOM portfolio evolution,” said Rene Wolf, senior vice president, manufacturing operations management software, at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “Bringing these components together as Siemens Opcenter and harmonizing the end user experience with other parts of our Digital Innovation Platform will make it much easier for manufacturers to manage their digital transformation process.”
In addition to launching Siemens Opcenter, Siemens also released a new version of its Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) portfolio, Siemens Opcenter Execution, formerly SIMATIC IT and Camstar. New features in these releases focus on smart devices, mobility, and integration capabilities to optimize data flows and availability.
CNC Software Releases Mastercam 2020 CAM Software
CNC Software Inc., the Tolland, Conn.-based developer of Mastercam, has released Mastercam 2020, its latest version of the industry’s most-installed CAM system. Mastercam 2020 increases machining productivity and reduces overall production costs with new 2D through multiaxis milling automation features, CAD and model preparation improvements, improved machine configuration, and 3D Tooling, according to the company.
Mastercam 2020 increases productivity and programming efficiency while reducing production costs with a series of automated 2D through five-axis toolpath improvements, according to CNC Software. It says the new 3D Blend toolpath delivers a smooth, precision surface finish and provides stock and holder checking. Usability improvements to 3D tooling include 3D tool icons in tool lists, stop-on-contact functionality when mating insert to holder, and auto-populating compensation point when defining 3D tools.
The new software increases efficiency and reduces job setup time and the preparation needed for part machining and programming, with the ability to filter inserts and holders by attributes as well as the ability to track associativity. Chaining enhancements include faster, easier chaining for Wireframe and Solids, and chain display and behavior improvements.
With improvements to toolpath and machine simulation, toolpath graphics, and other verification and analysis tools, Mastercam 2020 provides greater programming assurance and allows for better, more informed decisions before a job is run, according to CNC Software. These improvements include the go to home position on tool plane change, which moves the tool to a home position between operations when there is a plane change. Rotary axis positioning allows a user to simulate and visualize multiaxis movement of the machine tool, while Skip Drill Cycle Pecking improves cycle time estimates, according to the company.
Hexagon Releases QUINDOS 2019.2
Hexagon AB, Stockholm, Sweden, said its Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence division has released the second full version of QUINDOS 2019, its software for special geometries that offers a flexible package of solutions, from standard inspection to powertrain.
The 2019.2 version includes the option QUINDOS Virtual CMM – VCMM II for determining the specific measurement uncertainty of test features. The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) verified model is based on the latest mathematical models and technological standards. Influencing factors and their correlations can be determined automatically for each measurement using the computer-based simulation according to VDI/VDE 2617 Sheet 7—either in a machine setting with remote environment or on a separate simulation computer. The number of simulation runs and timing of the simulation can be adjusted according to the individual measuring tasks in order to react flexibly to accuracy and efficiency demands.
QUINDOS 2019 provides a structured user interface to guide users through steps from task definition to final report. Measuring uncertainty can be output as a value individually for each feature on the report and also graphically. Graphical output can be differentiated for incoming or outgoing inspection, or according to the conventional QUINDOS graphic.
Determination of the grinding/cutting tool offset has been added to the solutions for gear cutting tools. The option can be used to determine correction values for the cutter/grinder in the manufacturing process based on the evaluation of the normal, lateral, and radial offsets.
QUINDOS 2019 also includes a solution to inspect the grinding strategy for Broaches (DIN 1415) with ring grooves. The software evaluates the lead of the gradually narrowing tooth form in the direction of the face. Material crushing and compression stress that may lead to failure can be recognized and reduced through the inspection of the free surface.
QUINDOS also now includes an additional evaluation for gears with a new graphical report. The all-in-one plot graphically visualizes the evaluations of helix and profile for a gear in a condensed format.
IBM Closes Acquisition of Red Hat Software
IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., has closed its $34-billion acquisition of Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat Software, an open hybrid cloud technologies developer. IBM acquired all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $34 billion. The companies plan to offer a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform based on open source technologies such as Linux and Kubernetes that will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.
Red Hat will continue to be led by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and its current management team. Whitehurst is joining IBM’s senior management team, reporting to Ginni Rometty. IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh, its facilities, brands and practices. Red Hat will operate as a distinct unit within IBM and will be reported as part of IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software segment.
Hexagon Acquires German Startup AMendate to Shape Generative Design
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division announced that Hexagon has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire AMendate, a German-based start-up providing simulation software solutions that support the generation and optimization of designs for additive manufacturing (AM). AMendate will join Hexagon’s MSC Software business, which provides computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation software and services.
With this acquisition, MSC can offer a paradigm shift away from general-purpose optimization technologies to a purpose-built software solution for AM, enabling efficient production of complex components and providing benefits that include material-saving, weight reduction and efficient, cost-effective production, according to Hexagon. AMendate’s technology eliminates the manual effort that slows today’s workflows, allowing work steps to be completed in days that would otherwise take several weeks.
AMendate was founded in 2018 by researchers from Paderborn University and the Direct Manufacturing Research Center (DMRC) in Paderborn, an industrial/academic consortium started in 2008 by Boeing, EOS, and other commercial partners. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter and is subject to customary closing conditions.
Wind River Linux Now Features Container Tech
Wind River Linux, Alameda, Calif., a developer of embedded systems software, announced enhancements to Wind River Linux, which delivers technology to ease adoption of containers in embedded systems. It provides resources such as pre-built containers, tools, and documentation as well as support for frameworks such as Docker and Kubernetes, all of which can help embedded system developers leverage or deploy cloud-native development approaches, especially relevant for appliances at the network edge.
While containers can deliver powerful benefits such as greater scalability and flexibility, most current frameworks lack the right design or support for mission-critical industries that typically employ devices with extremely long lifecycles.
Embedded devices in the operational technology (OT) realm, such as those for industrial, medical equipment, and automotive systems, also often require lightweight, reliable software with long lifecycles. However, existing container technologies and platforms, like those in enterprise Linux, are often bloated or require updates too frequently to run effectively on these embedded systems, according to Wind River. The company stated that, with this release, Wind River Linux removes the difficulties and lowers the barrier of entry for container usage in embedded software projects for a diverse range of applications.
Software Update is edited by Contributing Editor Patrick Waurzyniak; contact him at email@example.com.