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Providing a seamless link from design to manufacturing

VISTAGY : 03 July, 2007  (Company News)
The improved Composite Engineering Environment module just introduced by Composite Design Technologies provides its FiberSIM suite of software with the tools necessary to provide a seamless link from design to manufacturing.
CEE previously allowed engineers to easily organize a composite laminate, add, delete, or reorganize plies as well as generate documentation directly from the 3D CAD model.

The recent improvements to CEE make it fully compatible with CDT's entire line of FiberSIM software tools that support the engineering of composites from the initial stages of part and ply definition all the way through to manufacturing.

The CEE module allows the design engineer to record critical nongeometric information during the geometry definition process without leaving the CAD system. This eliminates a time-consuming process that in current practice typically involves dozens of hours of verifying model boundary, counting plies, and so on for each composite component. New enhancements to the CEE allow this 3D design data to be linked directly to the entire suite of FiberSIM tools for composite design and manufacturing, including the Flat Pattern/Producibility, Laser Projection, Flat Pattern Export, and CEE-Documentation modules.

The Flat Pattern/Producibility module makes it possible for the designer to at any time during part design perform checks on completeness of material and ply orientation specifications, ply width, valid ply boundaries, ply closure, wrinkling, bridging, layup balance, maintenance of common boundaries, etc. The Laser Projection and Flat Pattern Export modules ensure reliable integration with manufacturing software and equipment including nesting systems, cutters, and laser projection systems. Integrating these tools with the combined CEE-Documentation module, which automatically generates manufacturing documentation like material tables and sequence charts directly from the 3D CAD model, provides for new capability in associating design data, manufacturing data and documentation. The result of all these modules being seamlessly linked by the CEE is a dramatic reduction in both design and manufacturing time and cost.

The CEE is very easy to use because it's completely integrated with the CAD systems that most designers already use. All of the commands needed to associate higher level features with geometry appear on familiar CAD program menus, eliminating the need to learn another program. The nongeometric information needed to define higher level objects is stored in the same CAD file as the geometry, further simplifying use of the new program. CEE is currently available for IBM CATIA and EDS Unigraphics CAD systems and a version for Parametric Technology Corporation Pro/ENGINEER will be released shortly.

Composite manufacturers have been quick to recognize FiberSIM's obvious benefits. With over 30 installations at major aerospace companies alone, components designed and manufactured using FiberSIM are beginning to show up all over the world. Companies like Bell Helicopter Textron, The Boeing Company, British Aerospace, Hawker de Havilland, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, NASA Johnson Space Center, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Aircraft Company, Saab Military Aircraft, Short Brothers plc, Sikorsky Aircraft, and many others have already adopted FiberSIM. And the number of installations is quickly growing in other industries like high performance automobiles and sporting equipment, among many others.

Work done on FiberSIM at Sikorsky Aircraft is an excellent example of how engineers are benefiting from advanced design tools that seamlessly link the 3D CAD model directly to the manufacturing floor. Engineers at Sikorsky changed the way they designed and manufactured composite parts for the S-92 Helibus Cockpit program by using FiberSIM throughout the initial stages of design all the way through to manufacturing. Randy Martin, Design and Development and Bill Forster, Manufacturing Engineering reported, 'FiberSIM assisted us in reducing the flow time required to move the complex composite canopy structure from basic data to completion of production parts from 15 to 11 months, a 27% improvement. Our first parts were virtually perfect and our partner, Aerospace Industrial Development Corp., located 9000 miles away, was able to do it right the first time.'
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