Parametric solid modeling has become a daily necessity for modern-day engineering and analysis design teams. Since the development of affordable CAD (computer-aided design) packages in the late ’80s that can be operated on personal computers, most technology companies today utilize some CAD packages for their product/tool development and documentation. With the continual improvement of computer processing speeds, CAD software platforms are becoming very powerful and offer many simulation capabilities for engineers and designers of various industries.
Designers actually use 3D modeling programs as their “drawing board” to develop, engineer and analyze their products or tools. Simulated designs can be “estimated” using CAD to help minimize trial product iterations. The entire assembly or system can be evaluated for fit, form, and function on the screen before an actual prototype is manufactured. Many third-party modules and add-ins are available for CAD packages that offer a variety of tools, such as finite-element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, photo-realistic rendering, and rapid prototyping. These capabilities not only optimize product or tool development but also offer many marketing and presentation opportunities.
The engineering group at Altair Technologies offers expertise and vast knowledge-base of parametric solid modeling. Our engineers are CAD power users and have 15-20 years of experience using CAD modeling for design, analysis, and documentation. Altair’s standard CAD package is SolidWorks by Dassault Systèmes; we continuously maintain our license subscriptions to remain active with the most-current versions; therefore, we can work directly with any native files. Our internal CAD files and documentation for in-house tooling and Altair products are managed using a product data management software package.
Since brazing is often a “design segment” of developing or manufacturing a complete product or tool, Altair engineering often collaborates with customers who have the majority of their CAD data already established within some software platform other than SolidWorks. We can utilize a variety of file translators and successfully “open” existing CAD solid models for manufacturing information or design additions. For example, a customer may have some existing CAD data representing a conceptual product. Altair can often utilize this data to fully understand the design parameters and add the geometric features required for brazing directly to the existing CAD model. This capability is very important for complex designs, as information can often be limited or misinterpreted when solely using orthographic 2D drawings. Using existing models is also time efficient as the CAD data for the product baseline will not have to be recreated.
Some customers will have very limited documentation, or perhaps just a “napkin-sketch” idea. Altair engineering can help accommodate such design needs by providing a complete package consisting of the parametric solid models and drafting documentation. Our professional skill-sets and CAD knowledge base are offered as a consulting service.
Altair is also initiating the implementation of CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) within our full-service machine shop; we use SurfCAM software by Surfware, Inc. CAM capabilities offer faster production set-ups and precise dimension control for our skilled NC programmers. These programming features allow our machinists to utilize the physical 3D CAD models to dictate the strategies required for the complete machining process. At times, only limited documentation is needed if the 3D CAD model is “CAM-Ready”. It should be noted that CAD/CAM technologies are not simply plug-and-play and do have some shortcomings. Altair engineering understands the integration of CAD/CAM and works with the machinists to ensure critical tolerances and datum locations are programmed into the software’s initial tool-path setups.
Altair engineering’s knowledge and expertise with CAD parametric modeling can provide the service you need for developing professional 3D solid models and documentation for your product and tool. We use this technology daily to help present the best results with quality success; our CAD models are prepared per industry standards, so the data is available for any future subsequent design needs using various software tools.