The 3D model as common thread through the product lifecycle

Article by Franc Coenen – 3D Print Magazine

The 3D model is going to play the leading role in more and more production chains. From product development to production to service: for every step, the 3D model can be used to save time, automate actions, streamline processes and ultimately increase quality. Re-use your CAD data, says Jennifer Herron, founder and CEO of Action Engineering. That is exactly what 3D Production Days will show on 22 and 23 June during 3D Delta Week.

3D Production Days connects the loose ends into an integrated vision

On 22 and 23 June, Mikrocentrum is merging four events under the banner of 3D Production Days: RapidPro, MBD Solutions Event, Virtual (R)evolution and the Smart Maintenance Congres. “The 3D model is a common thing in the process from idea to making. The 3D model is increasingly becoming the single source of truth. We bring that together for visitors,” says Karin Mous, Event Manager at Mikrocentrum, about the motivation to bundle the events.

Model Based Definition

For manufacturing companies, the MBD Solutions Event seems to be of particular interest in the first instance. Since ASML initiated the transition from 2D drawing to Model Based Definition a few years ago, more OEMs are switching to adding PMI data to the 3D CAD model as an alternative to technical drawings. This will lead to an increased use of platforms, says Jos Voskuil, PLM coach and blogger. “By connecting all parties, information flows through the chains faster and without translation. And we can optimise the chains.” He refers to this himself as the connected approach. Jos Voskuil is keynote speaker at the MBD Solutions Event. He believes that what the container has done in the transport industry, Model Based Definition will do in the manufacturing industry. The fact that parties in the value chain are now constantly required to convert and interpret data into their own formats results in a viscous process, with a high risk of errors. If you link all those data sets together – the connected approach – the chain can work much faster and more efficiently.

Printing replacement parts on demand

How you can re-use CAD data is shown at the other three events of 3D Production Days. This is very tangible at RapidPro, a fair that is still wrongly associated with only 3D printing or additive manufacturing. The technology has long passed the stage of prototyping. 3D printing is already being used for end products and small series. The digital assets that engineers create in the product development phase can be used again at the end of a product’s life cycle. People hardly realise this, argues Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise. He is talking about keeping spare parts when a product is no longer made. “Stockpiling production tools is expensive; or companies have to order large numbers because suppliers use minimum order units. The market for maintenance and replacement parts for end-of-life products lends itself very well to on-demand printing.”

Foundries combine digitisation and traditional craftsmanship

So here is a link between the MBD Solutions Event – with PMI data as enabler – and RapidPro and the Smart Maintenance congres. In June, both in the lecture program and among the exhibitors, you will find numerous practical tools that can be used for digitising stocks, producing obsolete parts and making single parts. The foundries and a party such as Castlab show that the digital technology – 3D modelling and 3D printing of tooling – connects seamlessly with the old, familiar production technology. But with much shorter lead times and costs, and fewer hands. Incidentally, Smart Maintenance Congres goes one step further by using digital tools to know when maintenance is required.

VR and AR in the manufacturing industry

CAD developers are already fully engaged in Virtual and Augmented Reality. They can use it to speed up the product development phase, work more efficiently in the production phase and simplify maintenance. In the past two years, more and more machine builders have started experimenting with Augmented Reality in their maintenance services in order to support mechanics remotely. ASML is just one example of this. Product configurators offer a new dimension with this visualisation technology. If you look at the production technology, there are also some examples, for instance in quality control.

Common thread

The 3D model thus runs like a common thread through the entire life cycle of a product or component. That is what 3D Production Days brings to the fore. Mikrocentrum organizes the event on 22 and 23 June in the Klokgebouw in Eindhoven. RapidPro takes place both days. The Smart Maintenance Congres and Virtual (R)evolution are on the agenda on 22 June; MBD Solutions Event on 23 June. The exhibitors will be present both days.

Interested in attending the 3D Production Days? You can register for free here.