Forget the normal way you have been using 3D solid modeling software. Delphi Technologies Inc. (www.delphi.com) says it has a better way to operate that will help you get the maximum benefit from CAD.
Based on six years worth of development and experimentation at their Steering Manufacturing Center in Troy, MI, Delphi engineers have invented what they have termed "horizontal modeling"—a way of using CAD that, the company says, will make it easier to use 3D CAD models in downstream applications such as manufacturing.
Traditionally, engineers model in a vertical format, creating feature dependencies in their solid models by placing new features on, or positioned to, one or more existing features. "But that method makes it hard to reorder, suppress, or delete features in downstream operations such as finite element analysis or manufacturing," says David Prawel, new ventures specialist at Delphi. Vertical modeling can discourage innovation because it makes model changes downstream time consuming, Prawel says. "Horizontal modeling stimulates design change because it makes model changes easy," he says.
Additionally, Prawel claims, horizontal modeling makes it easier for engineers to understand each other's design intent. "The details of the model creation are up to the individual engineer, but the method is the same, so when someone else picks up a model they'll see what the designer was trying to do."
Wipe Out: Traditionally engineers build
solid models vertically, laying each feature on top of another, as in this
build up of a pump housing at left. But, if in downstream applications
someone wants to delete the rib (second from the top in the stack) they
have to delete everything below that it depends on. In horizontal
modeling, right, they reference features to datum planes instead so they
don't have to remove dependencies.
Prawel says horizontal modeling is not another CAD product. "It's just a method you can use with existing CAD systems such as CATIA, Unigraphics, and SolidWorks, and to a lesser extent with Pro/Engineer and Autodesk Inventor," he asserts. The method is basically CAD neutral, he claims.
Delphi has also developed another method the company calls digital process design that enables automatic model creation, updating, and deployment without any rework.
The genesis of horizontal modeling and digital process design come out of some soul searching the engineers at the Steering Manufacturing Center engaged in over the value of 3D solid modeling. "We had found that after our initial adoption of 3D solid modeling it was saving us only 20% of our design and modeling costs, so we wondered whether it was worth expanding the investment downstream," Prawel says. The turn to the horizontal modeling approach made it worth it, he says. Indeed, one design director at the company's Saginaw, MI facility claims horizontal modeling makes it so easy to make design changes that they have saved in excess of $1.5 million.
Delphi has selected Cadpo (www.cadpo.com) to provide a certified training program for the new horizontal modeling and digital process design methodology.