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Home >Additive manufacturing is getting smarter

Additive manufacturing is getting smarter

03 July 2020

Additive technology, or 3D printing, is moving into mainstream manufacturing; it can be faster and more flexible than traditional manufacturing approaches and imposes fewer constraints on product design, says Bill Davis, Solution Director of Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment Industry for Siemens Digital Industries Software

Additive manufacturing supports design freedom that comes from not having to integrate or consider manufacturing methods like welding, sheet metal, and casting. Instead, engineers can focus on the minimum material needed for the design. Another benefit comes from the ability to combine multiple separate parts in single additive component, thus eliminating the cost of precision machining each.

Therefore, manufacturing companies need to be intelligent as to where they integrate additive into the machine design, focusing on areas where additive can improve machine performance and where cost and quality can be managed effectively versus conventional machining and fabrication.

However, for all its attractive qualities, there are still considerable challenges in delivering additive manufacturing for high-quality parts at an industrial scale with this approach.

There is a need for a tightly integrated and closed-loop design-simulate-manufacture flow to achieve quality additive products while minimizing design iterations. Before printing, designs need to undergo rigorous simulations of the printing process to mitigate risks, optimize the printing, and improve yield. This method must cover the full breadth of variables that can affect the outcome of additive, including the mixture of virgin and recycled print material, ambient humidity, machine parameters, and more. Besides, most companies will need to fit AM machinery into existing facilities, integrating it with conventional manufacturing processes.
Smart manufacturing and a digital twin

Only a comprehensive digital twin spans from initial design to simulation, production, and testing with the goal of improving yields from AM. This type of robust digital twin even includes post-process machining, plus make-ready processes for industrial machinery assembly. Therefore, the digital twin encompasses the electrical, software, and PLC programming, creating a multi-disciplinary approach for a full digital twin. Therefore, it’s imperative to have the correct software to manage it.

The digital twin is an all-inclusive representation of a product, its performance, and processes for manufacturing it

The digital twin is an all-inclusive representation of a product, its performance, and processes for manufacturing it. It parallels to everything that constitutes today’s advanced devices, including: mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, fluid, pneumatics, design domains, performance, and simulation of the product. Several software packages simulate each of these domains efficiently. However, the manufacturers producing and packaging consumer products with industrial machines must accommodate the changing requirements of customers. This setting requires a healthy emphasis on flexibility and shorter development times.

Utilising a digital twin

The holistic digital twin is ready to tackle these issues and optimize production beyond the factory floor. Therefore, a digital twin provides a representation of all phases of the product life, from ideation (engineering and simulation) and realization (manufacturing and requirements) through to utilization for operation and maintenance information. This abundance of information assists in completing the product.

The digital twin is essential for constructing and executing the printing of additive parts while managing delivery, manufacturing, operations, and quality of manufacturing operations management. All these components deliver an awareness for harmonizing the activities to deliver the correct parts at the right time. Manufacturing machinery necessitates skillfully orchestrating the supply chain, internal manufacturing, and assembly. Hence, the united knowledge management portion is a crucial element for designing and manufacturing, because supply chain management is essential in integrating additive manufacturing.

Not all additive machines or technologies are equal, and not all additive part suppliers are equivalent. Because post additive part geometry stability and heterogeneity are variables resulting from the additive process, manufacturing companies need to consider inbound inspection processes that directly address these issues.

Virtual machine simulation

Designing and manufacturing machines using a digital twin provides additional advantages via the virtual machine simulation and commissioning process. This simulation enables the validation of a manufacturing machine’s software code virtually before it physically operates on the factory floor.

Currently, machines contain tens of thousands of sensors; thus, it’s common to not identify all of them in the code from the beginning, for pushing that behavior expectation downstream. Therefore, compressing the delivery time in terms of code writing simulation is the payoff, when the machine is sitting on the floor, waiting for the customer to accept the written code.

The PLC software code is validated, via virtual commissioning, in a controlled environment

Therefore, the behavior of machines is driven by software via simulating the code on a virtual digital twin to produce considerable benefits, including reducing time and resources when commissioning a new manufacturing machine or reconfiguring a line for a new product type. The PLC software code is validated, via virtual commissioning, in a controlled environment with a modular product development strategy. This method permits machine builders to complete the simulation in the beginning, linking the software to the modules.

Smart manufacturing

Implementing smart manufacturing via a digital twin and virtual commissioning simulation provides the essential stages to an innovative future of industrial mechanical and product design. This robust feature, across the conceptual design to product conclusion, delivers quality-of-life advances to the design engineers and all parties controlling manufacturing, operations, or management. When providing virtual commissioning capabilities, it empowers machine building, and a new process line, digitally simulating it before shipping the physical product, thus reducing downtime.

Therefore, by using the Xcelerator portfolio, Siemens Digital Industries Software’s suite of products, it assists to simulate testing virtually, saving time and money in modeling, and optimizing operations before construction or equipment installation begins. The digital twin for smart manufacturing saves time and money for the machine manufacturer, the product manufacturer, and the end customer. It empowers all areas to know what needs to be built, thus providing extraordinary value for all parties. Smart manufacturing with a comprehensive digital twin is where today meets tomorrow.