As manufacturers begin to rely more and more on additive manufacturing (AM), moving from a few select piece parts that are 3D printed, to hundreds of assemblies in complex systems, a cohesive methodology is needed to manage this transition and associated workflows. Companies have tried to deal with these complexities and challenges with point and home-grown solutions, trying to adapt legacy systems to the new reality.
Auto manufacturers help illustrate the issues that industry is facing with the rapid transition from traditional to additive manufacturing. Modern cars are made of thousands of assemblies from hundreds of suppliers from all around the world. The result is that an auto manufacturer has to deal with a wide range of suppliers, flows, and data formats.
Bringing Order to the Data Chaos
The Berlin-based 3YourMind has developed a suite of tools to help companies manage complex AM workflows and system production. Central to the 3YourMind solution is their AM Order Management system.
While order management may seem to be just an accounting function, 3YourMind has gone beyond the simple understanding of an order to include data management with two major functions:
- Centralization of order communications — In addition to traditional order information, such as part requirement, approval, and order discussions, the 3D model for each piece is also archived.
- AM order and production management — This module tracks and manages each stage of production, providing print confirmation, pricing, material and supplier comparisons, and order tracking.
Modeling Data is Central to the Solution
Because the 3D model is the specification for piece parts that will be produced using additive manufacturing, the 3YourMind solution needs to read this model data. After the model is read, the 3YourMind AM Order Management software performs checks and optimization on the STL model to ensure manufacturability.
Because the solution needs to be able to handle modeling data in a range of formats and flavors, the solution needs to be able to translate these models into an understandable form. However, translation is not a trivial process and was not an area of expertise for the 3YourMind development team.
Looking Outside for a Solution
As the 3YourMind development team began their developing, they realized that translation was essential to their solution. But while essential, translation is just an enabling technology for building the final solution. The team needed to focus their valuable time on their value-add and differentiators. So 3Yourmind began their search for a third-party solution — the search ended with Spatial.
By selecting 3D InterOp from Spatial, 3YourMind gained access to the gold standard for 3D modeling translation. 3D InterOp translates solid (BREP), wire, surface, free surfaces, free curves, and free points. Advanced modeling technology is used in each of the translators to address common data translation differences including: geometry repair, topology repair and tolerance resolution.
Why go with a Third-Party Solution
As a vendor of software development toolkits, Spatial delivers robust solutions tested on thousands of datasets from hundreds of customers. The 3YourMind team benefited from the Spatial engineering team’s years of experience in dealing with thousands of CAD databases. As a result, from a support perspective, 3YourMind does not have to deal with the usual issues when rolling out new/updated translation code to customers. Moreover, due to the maturity and robustness of the solution, the amount of support issues is greatly reduced. Their customers benefit from any code fixes and improvements needed by the Spatial community.
Successfully developing, deploying, and supporting 3D applications is a substantial challenge, requiring significant investment, precise execution, and focus on innovation and differentiation. Using software development kits can shorten development time and risk, as well reduce cost and improve the robustness of a solution.