Unprepared for Emerging 3D Model Requirements

Inspection-glassToday aerospace suppliers must deal with a mix of technical data formats required by their customers. For example, some aerospace prime contractors are only sharing dimensionless 3D CAD models with their suppliers for their new programs. Others only provide drawings as PDF or Tiff files.

Adding another wrinkle to this media mix, 3D data types are numerous and varied, and the modeling software is expensive for each model type. To be competitive, companies must have the flexibility and a single software tool to deal with these varied formats and customer demands.

(This is Part 4 of a 5 Part series of posts on solving your toughest quality inspection challenges. Click here and get the entire 5-Part series packaged into a single white paper.)

As customers share their dimensioned and non-dimensioned data as a model, many companies struggle with purchasing the pricy and appropriate CAD software to open these models; nevertheless, they need a means to extract the model information to do work for this customer. While having this business and customer should lead to profitability, the means to respond to this customer’s demands can overwhelm a supplier’s resources.

Quality Inspection Nightmares and What You Can Do About Them

Software Characteristic Identification Tool

Finding a software characteristic identification tool that is affordable and extracts the data from all model types has been a solution that has saved companies thousands of dollars. By having the CAD modeling format embedded into the tool, saves companies the expense of another seat of Catia, for example. Software that can interpret the modeling data and provide auto-ballooning has been a dramatic solution for these companies. They have one tool that meets the multiple CAD modeling challenges.

Yet relying exclusively on 3D models for characteristic identification is not a panacea for all their quality challenges. Many small to large enterprises believe that the CAD modeling world will solve all their design and documentation woes and give them all they need for the AS9102 compliance. Once the model is released to them with the product manufacturing information embedded in that model, they believe they can simply “go with it” and be done. Nothing could be further than the truth. The modeling information may only hold a portion of the requirements needed for a completed set of documentation. CAD software must be able to access other data from that model, its entity information, for example, that was not originally included, such as surface finish, which is rarely identified on the model.

What CAD Software is Missing

In fact, most CAD software does not provide the granularity for specification call outs or Bill of Materials (BOM). Both of these sources can be lost in the 3D world and without them, the critical part-making information is only partially captured. This missed information will result in scrap and rework.

Consider how the BOM comprises a significant portion of the part creation, such as part ordering and materials; this data must not be overlooked. Incorrect or missing BOM information can result in ordering the wrong materials, for example, and if the parts can’t be reworked or returned, they become warehoused in the scrap heap. Missing the BOM is, by far, a most costly consequence of relying on 3D data alone. Extracting data in a combined approach for 3D and the BOM as expressed in 2D documents, is the solution to this very real challenge.

One software tool that handles the complexity of 3D modeling environment and the requirements of specifications and BOM is the best complete solution. A supplier in San Diego commented, “The ability to seamlessly select 3D for the modeling data then in a click add other data not on the model, but needed for part creation has been a god send. Then we access, in the same streamlined software, the 2D data for all the BOM and specification information. This approach leverages the dynamics of the 3D environment with the completeness of a 2D document.”

One Aerospace Companies Approach

One aerospace company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has taken the lead at using a common, consistent approach for older legacy parts and new parts that require CAD models. No matter the media — paper, raster images, and 3D models — this aerospace company now uses the same tool for various file formats from their customers. Instead of having to purchase the various seats of 3D modeling software used by the various customers, they have one single tool, no matter the model type, that can open and interpret the data.

Clicks to Complete, Not Days and Weeks

What used to take days and weeks to identify the characteristic data, by converting the model into PDF format and then ballooning/identifying the characteristics, this company is now saving time, by using model data and uncovering the characteristic data in a matter of a few clicks. They extract the specifications and BOM in the same tool as a PDF format. They are taking advantage of all the data mixes for a complete FAI, thus meeting all the customer requirements.

By anticipating the emerging customer requirement for 3D models, and the ability to switch, in the same technical data package, to a 2D document, this supplier has all the tools in place to provide the comprehensive documentation and the bandwidth to absorb more work and court new customers.

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