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Category: CATIA

10 Jan 2019

Three Tips from an Expert in Composites Design and Manufacture

Over the course of his career, Adaptive’s CATIA expert, Bart Schenck, CATIA Application Specialist has been a pioneer in the use of the CATIA V5 composites module, supporting aerospace, defense, industrial equipment, and nuclear industries as an operations technician, an account manager, and now, at Adaptive, a technical support engineer. He’s seen successes and mistakes in the arena of composite design and manufacturing, and he’s got lots of experience that he’s ready to share to help manufacturers do things the right way…

Composites is an especially challenging arena: few manufacturing or design processes exist that contain more variables than that of composites. That’s because in composites, manufacturers start with flexible material made up of fabric and resin, which has to be mixed at a perfect ratio, then formed to a precise shape, and then cured at the right temperature for an exact amount of time. That’s a lot more variables than carving away at a single block of metal or casting a metal part in a mold.

Schenck explains that the manufacturers he works with don’t often bid a manufacturing process, receive the contract, and produce. Instead, they typically have to prove they can do the work before the contract is awarded, by producing a single part and thereby demonstrating they understand the design received and can deliver the correct end result. Only then might they win the contract to produce tens, hundreds, or even thousands of parts.

Tip 1:
Ensure you have personnel who have composites experience—either hire them or educate them

Composites are more of an industrial black art than a science, according to Schenck, and as such, there’s a lot of tribal knowledge held by those with significant experience in doing the work. Which means that the first key for manufacturers wanting to get composites right is either having the right people in place already—experienced composite engineers and manufacturing staff—or securing the training required to develop competency in the desired composite techniques and processes. In some cases, manufacturers may need to start with education or consulting to help select the most efficient and repeatable composites process for bidding on a contract.

Tip 2:
Choose the appropriate composites process and understand associated tooling needs

After you’re sure you have the right people in place, the next vital step is determining the process you’re going to use, which begins with understanding the types of parts you need to create. The process you choose will also dictate the tooling you need—for example, a hand-layup requires tooling with a very low coefficient of thermal expansion so the parts don’t change size, since you’re curing parts in an oven or autoclave. Tooling is one of the hidden risks Schenck has identified over the years—he’s seen plenty of manufacturers make a mistake early in the process and incur a lot of risk and cost later on.

Tip 3:
Make sure initial parts and tooling are accurate

With a clear understanding of the parts to be made and the chosen process—and tooling—to make them, manufacturers lastly should focus on the accuracy of the initial parts and tooling. In Schenck’s mind, the only way to ensure part and tool accuracy is to integrate software tools that will not only help manufacturers prepare digital models for the manufacturing process, but will also capture lessons learned and best practices as institutional knowledge for the future. Schenck can’t emphasize the need for accuracy enough. Manufacturers live and die by the accuracy of their parts, and he believes cutting corners on horsepower and capabilities that contribute to accuracy is simply foolish.

Given his experience, it’s no surprise Schenck recommends CATIA for composites—in his view, it leads the field in power and functionality. He gives an example of a frequent customer pitfall: not spending enough time with a part’s geometry up front—not considering that the engineering edge of part (EEOP) isn’t what the manufacturer needs to build to because they need to give themselves margin for the manufacturing process. With CATIA, it’s a simple process to extend the edge of the part to the manufacturing edge of part (MEOP) to ensure ease-of-manufacture and increase the likelihood of final part accuracy.

CATIA also captures the knowledge gained from each manufacturing process and stores it to help inform future work. With high turnover rates, attrition, and an ever-changing industry, it’s smart to be able to define and store digital processes that mimic real-world needs for physical manufacturing. It’s also smart to capture the tribal knowledge that typically only exists in workers’ heads.

Adaptive would be happy to share more information about CATIA’s composites capabilities, as well as Schenck’s extensive experience with both software and manufacturing processes.

29 Oct 2018

Advanced CATIA Tips for Job Shop Users

Problem: You just received a big manufacturing order from a top tier automotive or aerospace manufacturer. They’ve provided a 3D model created in CATIA. You have worked in different CAD software programs, but this is your first time diving into CATIA. Where do you start? How do you get up to speed quickly?

Before you start – Take time to learn about the basic functions of CATIA. Don’t try to dive into advanced features without knowing the basics first. You can create a lot of damage and waste a lot of time. You can use the training provided by Dassault Systèmes within CATIA, use the 3DSwym communities, attend classes, or depend upon a CATIA application specialist to provide support.

Tip #1 Understand how CATIA works

One of the most common problems I’ve encountered is working with users who start using CATIA without understanding the underlying methodologies and processes. You know who you are. Just because you’ve used SOLIDWORKS before, you can jump right into a CATIA file. For instance, I’ve worked with users who try to do advanced surfacing but they haven’t taken the time to learn basic surfacing or wireframes first. They get frustrated because it takes them too long to create the surface they’re looking for.

CATIA has a unique framework and methodology. Don’t try to make it work like another software program. Instead, learn how CATIA works, thinks, and acts. Understand how CATIA works with files and processes and your life will be much easier.

Tip #2 Use templates to streamline the design process

Once you have invested the time to learn the basics, it doesn’t make sense to keep doing the basic manual processes over and over again. You can use templates to capture the knowledge you’ve gained from your previous learning process. They help you and your organization save time and drive efficiency. Templates are also useful for transferring what you’ve learned to other users.

Tip #3 Understand how CATIA uses Universal Unique ID (UUID) numbers to identify drawing files

How CATIA identifies records is often confusing to the novice CATIA user. Understanding how universal unique IDs (UUID) work will help you and your team manage multiple CAD files.

For a basic understanding of UUIDs, check out this blog post from PLM evangelist Jonathan Scott at Razorleaf Corporation: CATIA V5 UUID Uniqueness Article.

Tip #4 Know how to convert a 2D sketch into a 3D shape

Converting a 2D sketch into a 3D shape is a common task performed by CATIA users. How you create your 2D sketch will determine how solid the 3D shape will be. You need to make a foolproof model. One way is by understanding the building blocks to create a great sketch. Make sure the sketch has the proper constraints and parameters. Then use the methodologies that CATIA has intended you to follow. You’ll then have a solid model that you can’t break because you’ve built it on such a strong foundation. That’s the key to becoming a great CATIA designer – doing the little things up front so that you don’t need to repeat them later.

Tip #5 Know when to ask for help

If you run into a problem or want to dive deeper into a particular function, start by leveraging the CATIA ‘Help’ functionality. In each functional area, you can click on the help page which provides examples of how to use the tool. If you can’t find an answer to your question using help, then you can contact your technical support team at Adaptive Corporation. You can submit a support ticket or reach out to your Adaptive sales representative and they’ll connect you with a subject expert.

Of course, feel free to reach out to Adaptive’s CATIA expert, Bart Schenck, CATIA Application Specialist through the Adaptive support portal or email at bschenck@adaptivecorp.com.