"Model looks good. Now go build it."
Putting design ideas into a 3D modeling package gave engineers at MJC Engineering & Technology Inc., Huntington Beach, Calif., immediate feedback on what might and might not work on a 55-ton, 80-ft-long steeltube spinning machine. Visualization and massproperty calculations in Solid Edge from UGS Inc., Plano, Tex., also told how well new ideas would work.
"I frequently generated images from assemblies and showed them to others in the company," says Per Carlson, vice president and general manager at MJC. "I got valuable feedback early on because people could understand what they were seeing." Carlson eventually modeled every piece of the tube-spinning machine in a digital assembly. "The modeler also helped convince the customer that our relatively small company could handle the design challenge," he says.
After modeling the concept machine, he created about 20, 3D images showing it from different angles and zooming in on areas of special interest. "This gave the client an idea of how we planned to do things," Carlson says. The images boosted their confidence in us."
Carlson says he tried other 3D modelers and found them more difficult to use. Design review with other CAD programs also took longer. "Concept drawings for the customer and reviews that took 2 hours with Solid Edge take two days with other programs," he says. "The modeler was more intuitive than other 3D programs and it takes about 30% fewer keystrokes for some tasks so you can work faster," he says. "What's more, we find we can go from concept to manufacturing drawings in one-sixth the time it took us previously in 2D."