2016 saw a slew of announcements showing a convergence of design tools. The goal is to make it easier -- and faster -- for the design engineer to move from design tool to design tool. Often, a product lifecycle management (PLM) system is at the center of the integrated collection of tools.
|(Source: Arena Solutions)|
A wide range of tools are coming together in this integrated systems, from CAD and CAE to simulation and materials analysis. The convergence of the different design tools aims to accomplish a number of efficiencies. For one, it supports collaboration. This is collaboration beyond simply bringing analysis together with CAD design. Often we’re seeing the marketing team looking at early designs and digital prototypes.
Data from product performance out in the field is also getting integrated into the design process, so the next iteration of a product gets the benefit of the customer experience of the product. Quality data and manufacturing configuration is also getting integrated, so any changes at one end of the design process can be updated at the other end of the process. Here are some recent articles from Design News that show the future in integrated product design.
In just the last year, CAD programs are glowing with the luster of shiny new functionality. 3D printing has revamped the whole notion of what constitutes shape. 3D PDFs are changing the way drafts are shared, and new tools guide design engineers to create objects that are manufacturing friendly. And smart storage systems are in place now to let you know the archive contains a pre-designed product that is very similar to the image you're creating on your screen.
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Energy efficiency demands are forcing companies to produce products that are lighter while maintaining strength and integrity. In order to meet government mandates and produce easy-to-manufacture products -- from cars to plant equipment -- design engineers need to redesign their products. Automakers are striving to take weight out of vehicles without sacrificing strength and structural integrity. To help accomplish this, solidThinking has introduced Inspire 2016, which includes PolyNURBS functionality. The design tool helps users optimize their designs into manufacturable products by wrapping topology results with NURBS geometry.
With a plethora of new data-gathering tools swarming the market, increasing amounts of data is being collected. Yet some of the most important data is going unused because it can't be found by the right person at the critical time. With all the data coming over the transom, there is plenty of "Dark Data" that isn't getting analyzed. Consequently, potentially useful trends are missed. Some companies are seeking advances in data collection and storage to help solve the problem. Even machine learning is coming into play so the data you need can find you.
Design hardware and software is morphing in a dozen different directions, from video-game-like augmented reality to connected design tools that support worldwide collaboration. Some apps take standard design tools and put them in the Cloud or on a mobile design, while others integrated disparate tools such as PLM and Quality Management Systems (QMS).
With the Internet of Things and a gazillion more connected devices and sensors, design, test, and manufacturing systems are generating a nearly unmanageable amount of data. Companies have been challenged to the breaking point, stringing together multiple PCs to handle the data flow. Turning to the company's IT team does not always bring relief.
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.