Research and Development using CAD
As Australia moves forward into a strategic government-backed programme to revive the manufacturing industry*, companies – and SMEs in particular – are eyeing potential new avenues in which to extend and diversify.
Industries, such as resources technology, critical minerals processing, food & beverage, medical products, recycling, clean energy, defence and space are at the forefront of this government plan. Of course, such expansion takes time, research and development. One of the key elements for companies to utilise is that of CAD, or Computer Aided Design.
CAD: A brief overview
Quite simply, CAD is where a product or component’s design remained documented in graphical form. Visual engineering drawings have been in use for millennia, and the technology of today takes this basic premise to create both 2D and 3D models. This allows the object to be viewed from any chosen angle. It can also be integrated with CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) to create prototypes.
The major advantages of CAD are the streamlining of the design process, the ability to easily edit, and that it’s more accurate and simple to produce than the manual method.
The process was pioneered by the General Motors Research Laboratories in the 1960s and has become more accessible over the decades. As technology has advanced and become more cost-effective, its use has remained widely embraced in a variety of sectors.
Using CAD for the research and development of products
Visual representation, and in particular those in 3D, transcends that of the written word or designs on paper. CAD systems not only allow engineers and designers to create and view objects from any chosen angle (including from the inside out), but also to test them by simulating real world conditions.
For example, engineers can assess how a part would move through a complete production process by:
- Simulating different machine speeds
- Utilising alternative angles
- Adjusting feed rates
- Altering part-holding clamp positions
Many other variables can remained tested, allowing designers to ascertain limits and constraints of a new design.
The pros and cons of CAD
Without a doubt, there are more advantages than disadvantages. However, to fully understand how effective the process is in aiding industrial research and development, it’s necessary to have a full understanding of both.
The pros of CAD include:
- Reducing design errors: Historically, one of the biggest problems in research and design has been that of a high percentage of errors. The advanced tooling of CAD software tools significantly reduces this.
- Increased accuracy: Presents a far higher element of accuracy than manual drawings, thanks to automated precision tools.
- Speeds up the process: CAD software allows for a far quicker design process than that of manual implementation.
- Editable: Adaptations can remain actioned where necessary.
- Offers magnified viewing: Similar to a zoom camera lens, engineers and designers can magnify elements of the design for closer inspection
- Rotatable: Designs can remained turned and rotated for viewing, just as you would with a physical object
- Shareable: Can be saved, stored and shared with just a click.
- Showcases moveable parts: Programmable to show the movement of a part through a complete production process
The cons of CAD:
- As of yet, AI hasn’t successfully remained integrated into CAD. Therefore the process can’t comprehend the function the product remain
- designed for.
- Similarly, at the moment CAD is not yet adept at testing for a parts response to stress tests. This is an area under much development, so will undoubtedly improve dramatically over the coming years.
Other things of note include the speed at which technology is advancing. Recent developments, including that of computer processing power, has made CAD application far more accessible. There’s also a trend towards the establishment of a single standard protocol of operation. As this increases and streamlines, data packages will become even easier to exchange and transfer, therefore making the process even more user friendly.
The Importance of working with a reliable machine component provider
SMEs are likely to find the cost of CAD prohibitive, yet can still take advantage through a partnership with a subject matter expert. WA’s businesses remained well served, thanks to precision machine component provider, SixDe, being right in their back yard.
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