VCollab
VCollab enables the creation of smart, interactive 3D CAE reports and delivers engineering performance data for live design review.

CAD/CAM Roundup: Engineering Software Productivity Tools and Services

March 15, 2024
Overcome complicated processes with the use of agile, flexible CAD/CAM and PLM solutions that streamline workflow automation.

True or False? Automated processes and workflows are the bread-and-butter of the modern workflow.

If workflow automation ensures busywork is handled by machines, then the answer varies depending on the software tool selected for improving the flow. The best productivity tech solutions affect the way that companies deliver on business goals. When choosing software, consider factors such as ease of use, customization options, ease of integration, scalability and pricing. 

What we know is that flexible and adaptive software platforms that integrate with legacy equipment plonk the days of copy-and-paste in the rearview. Rest assured, functions such as setting up automated alerts and having greater visibility on how to avoid workflow bottlenecks will help today’s multi-disciplinary design engineer focus on what really matters. 

The following compilation of productivity tech not only provides intelligence on how to lower engineering and purchasing overhead, but also considers the demands of bringing machines to market faster and reducing operational risk.

Online 3D CAD Configurator for Pneumatic Actuators

Festo’s latest design tool, a 3D CAD configurator supports pneumatic actuators and related accessories, including fittings, lengths of tubing and sensors. The tool supports the most common CAD formats and focuses exclusively on Festo’s in-stock and quick-ship core range of pneumatic actuators and accessories.

READ MORE: Factory Operating Systems: Software That Supports Making Hardware

The single CAD file of the actuator/accessory assembly streamlines the design process by eliminating individual CAD files for the various components, noted the manufacturer of pneumatic and electromechanical systems and controls for process and industrial automation. The engineer simply selects the actuator from a choice of either cylinder, drive with guides or semi rotary drive, before clicking on accessory “hot spots” to identify and select each accessory. From there, the process configurator takes over to authorize and ensure compatibility between actuator and accessory and also validates the type code.

Try out the 3D CAD Configurator by visiting the Festo Digital Engineering Tools webpage.

Subscription Services for 3D Fixture Modeling Software

Renishaw made available its FixtureBuilder 3D fixture-modeling software via a subscription service in January 2024. The software allows quick creation and documentation of advanced CAD-based metrology fixturing set-ups, with access to the full catalogue of Renishaw metrology fixturing components for designing and documenting modular fixturing setups.

Offered with the purchase of qualifying metrology fixturing products or bundles, the software offers full CAD compatibility and promises an intuitive interface, intelligent drag-and-drop functionality and an easy-to-use constraint mechanism. Renishaw noted the standout feature is its “Build It” function, which automates the generation of work instructions and bill of materials for each fixture set-up.

CAE Workflows, Efficient CAE Analysis Simulation and Results Interpretation

A partnership between Visual Collaboration Technologies, Inc. (VCollab) and Novus Nexus empowers the design engineer and simulation specialist at every stage of the product development cycle.  In this collaboration, VCollab brings its Rapid Results Review technology to Novus Nexus simulation automation users via its flagship product CAENexus, allowing users to review and share CAE analysis results without leaving their comfort zone in the CAE environment. 

Bruce Webster, PhD, and Prasad Mandava—both CEOs and presidents of Novus Nexus and VCollab respectively—stated in a press release that having “VCollab’s report generation capability baked into Novus Nexus’ end-to-end simulation automation strategy” brings flexibility and power to design engineers and simulation specialists across the product development cycle. 

READ MORE: How PLM Can Improve Supply Chain and Design Synergy and Move Goods Faster

Novus Nexus automatically handles simulations with complex CAD geometries, and with VCollab’s interactive 3D report & Rapid Results Review capabilities, the solution enables high-fidelity and easy access failure investigations of whole assemblies. This is “a significant capability that has not previously been available with traditional automation and report generation approaches,” Mandava said. 

Webster best sums up the collaboration: “Simulation-ready CAD is the input, CAENexus the automation processor, and VCollab’s performance visualization the output for live dynamic design review and decision making.”

Cloud-based CAD-PLM Securely Shares Design Information

Nearly half or more of surveyed product design and manufacturing professionals rate their organization’s operation efficiency (66%) and communication (48%) to be “very poor” to “average,” according to a recent PTC survey. To accelerate product development, more companies are now transitioning to cloud-native and hybrid-cloud CAD and data management platforms.

To this end, OEMs looking for smoother transitions from the product’s design phase to manufacturing can look to Onshape-Arena Connection. The solution is PTC’s answer to seamlessly linking CAD, PDM and PLM in the cloud.

READ MORE: How PLM Can Improve Supply Chain and Design Synergy and Move Goods Faster

CAD-PLM integrations are notoriously complex and communication between the two typically requires an intermediary, known as PDM (product data management). Think of PDM as the translator between the CAD software and PLM system. PTC Onshape comes with built-in PDM capability. This allows for easy cloud-based adaptation with Arena PLM, which was developed for tracking and managing product design, engineering change and quality tracking across the product’s lifespan. 

During PTC’s Q4 2023 earnings call last November, the company noted that PTC is taking share in different parts of the CAD market. PTC’s latest CAD offering, Creo 3D CAD technology, enables the digital design, testing and modification of product models. Onshape Saas is a product development platform that connects computer-aided design with data management, collaboration tools and real-time analytics. 

“Regarding Onshape, with NPS scores that lead the industry by a considerable margin and solid retention rates, we see good opportunities to take share in the part of the CAD market that Onshape focuses on,” Matt Shimao, PTC’s head of Investor Relations said during the call.

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