Manufacturing Modeling: A Critical Technology

The use of manufacturing modeling software continues to gain industry acceptance. Manufacturing modeling is distinct from CAD.

Columns From: 10/1/2004 Modern Machine Shop,

The use of manufacturing modeling software continues to gain industry acceptance. Manufacturing modeling is distinct from CAD. Whereas CAD is primarily concerned with the design of products and assemblies, manufacturing modeling is primarily concerned with preparing a model for manufacturing and designing the tools required for manufacturing. CIMdata has always considered manufacturing modeling to be an important element of CAM, even though some view it as a component of CAD.

Although manufacturing modeling software is employed in most industry segments, it is used extensively by mold makers, a key segment of CAM. CIMdata estimates that production of molds is the largest segment of CAM, as more than 30 percent of the total CAM software market is associated with this type of production. Mold design, a component of manufacturing modeling, has become a commonly employed and critical technology in mold making.

This list of software companies providing manufacturing modeling capability includes the major PLM and CAD/CAM suppliers—UGS, IBM/Dassault and PTC—as well as a number of the worldwide CAM-centric vendors such as Cimatron, Delcam, Vero International and Missler. As two cases in point, UGS offers a single product—Mold Wizard—to provide these functions, and Cimatron offers a series of products—Mold Design, Quick Split and Quick Electrode—that are components of Cimatron E.

The UGS approach is to provide an integrated mold design, product design and CAM environment within the NX software by combining the tool design products with Teamcenter Manufacturing for information management and providing change management. This includes a model comparison to show design changes with associativity between part and mold to provide an automatic change update. The software also introduces a methodology of validation for manufacturing. This is a broader solution than what is typically provided by the CAM-centric vendors.

UGS Mold Wizard offers software capability for mold base design, automatic parting of cores and cavities, and electrode extraction. It pro­vides automated solid-based design and intelligent assembly of molds. Associativity is maintained, permitting changes to a part model to be propagated to the core and cav­ity. Mold Wizard guides a user through a mold design process. It includes capabilities for data import; part creation; shrinkage ma­nipulation; automatic cavity layout, parting of the core and cavity; electrode design extraction, model comparison and model swap capability; and more. Both uniform and non-uniform scaling can be used in shrinkage calculations. Being associative, shrinkage and parting surfaces can be quickly updated when a part model is modified.

In a similar manner, Cimatron provides process-oriented solutions in Cimatron E to support the major mold design functions. The primary Cimatron E manufacturing modeling products for the mold maker are Mold Design, Quick Split and Quick Electrode. Cimatron is sensitive to offering products that permit a high level of concurrency so users can perform functions in parallel and thereby reduce the overall time requirement. Process guides are available for all mold design products to lead users through the design process.

Mold Design is an intelligent, parametric, associative, easy to use, solids-based system that includes support for either single, multi-cavity or family molds. Either Cimatron E models or other design files can be accepted in Mold Design. A user can update work if a design change occurs by using the Cimatron E Quick Compare function. A range of mold components such as plates, guide pins, leader pins, screws, ejectors, spacers and cooling channels can be selected from a catalog.

The Quick Split function automatically separates a model into the core, cavity, inserts and slides. The split can be accomplished inside of the mold itself, as compared to performing the split on a separate part. A parting or split line can be established on either a surface or solid model. A user need only select the split command and the parting line is immediately created.

Quick Electrode helps by automating the electrode creation and drawing processes, generating customizable electrode reports, providing seamless integration to NC and generating automatic programming for an EDM machine. The electrode process guide can assist a user in selecting the electrode area, creating a coordinate system, extracting the electrode surfaces and developing extension surfaces. The use of advanced manufacturing modeling products, such as those described above for mold design, can assist mold makers in this tedious and demanding task. The job is being made easier. Time reductions of 80 percent or so are often obtained by use of such products.

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