You might say, I know how to design a product, but digital manufacturing? Is it something like the creation of a product out of pure energy; a kind of STAR TREK technology? That would be really cool, but digital manufacturing is more real than that.
Digital manufacturing is a way to plan and simulate the manufacturing process in a virtual environment. Basically it uses the 3D CAD data and allows you to build the product virtually. There are many questions that could be answered like:
- Which machine tools do I need to manufacture the product?
- How could I create the program for the machine tool?
- And how could I be sure that the program is running smoothly?
- In which sequence do I have to assemble the product?
- How should I place my workplaces in the factory for an optimal output?
Digital manufacturing is about answering all this up front to the start of production in a virtual environment.
For example the third question: The German based machine tool builder Index Group is using our solution to simulate a virtual machine and together with a virtual Siemens 840D controller to validate and optimize the NC programs before they go into production. This is one of the fascinating things, seeing the virtual machine in a virtual production controlled by the virtual controller. The simulation is visualizing the material removal, checking for collisions and even showing the tool path.
Beside the confidence that the NC program can run without collisions, the tool path could be used to optimize the NC program and reduce the production time.
This is one example of how digital manufacturing could help manufacturing companies to validate and optimize production processes.