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From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 13 No 06 - JUNE 2000
CAD Users David Chadwick takes a close-up look at the latest version of Imageware surface modelling software, now under the aegis of SDRC, and finds a powerful tool for data conversion
I spent a couple of days recently in Berlin looking at the next generation of Audi 6 executive saloon cars in this instance, displayed alongside their nearest competitors. German automotive technicians hovered alongside the cars in case I should so much as breathe upon one of their treasured charges! Whilst these sleek machines were, to all intents and purposes, finished to the high standards of the adjacent real cars, they were, in fact, clay models!
A couple of possible versions were on show and, presumably, after comments have been made about the impact, one of them will be selected as the preferred model for the future. Audi will then set about producing the co-ordinates of the car, acquiring cloud point data millions of measurements using contact or laser scanning in order to create a 3D model of the car on the computer. Imageware Version 10, from SDRC, has just been launched to handle conversion of data from physical models cars, aeroplanes, car seats, etc and to feed it into appropriate CAD packages for body and wind tunnel tests and ultimate manufacture, a form of reverse engineering. It can also be used for surface design from scratch, through 2D models or directly from 3D conceptual designs. Other facilities include a means of checking prototypes with the original design as they come off the production line and a tool for creating mammoth jigs.
SDRC acquired Imageware two years ago. The concept of developing an enterprise-wide surfacing solution that handled everything from the surface to the mould was sound, but the original software lacked some necessary elements in its original state. Under SDRC guidance, it has now released the latest version of the software, enabling it to fulfil all of the promises of its inception. It is now available with more than 120 enhancements to the core products, including three major components: Surfacer, Verdict and Build!IT.SURFACE MODELLING
and looking exactly as the designer intended and for the development of rapid surfaces.
There are basically two types of surface that can be created from physical models or concept data. Rapid surfaces, where cloud point data is the prime source of input, enable concepts to be digitised rapidly for analysis and pre-manufacturing checks particularly with designs that may undergo further modification.
Class A surfaces tend to be final shapes and rely less on point data, where the vast numbers of data points scanned in may include surface anomalies present on the most carefully-prepared physical models. Class A surfaces are notoriously difficult to model. Point data may include reflections as well as lumps and bumps produced by Bezier surfaces, which will create unacceptable anomalies in the final surface.
Amongst the enhanced tools are Matching, which has been made more interactive and intuitive, and Fillet, providing full support for Nurbs, Bezier and Rational entities, and automatic trim and extend facilities. Trim/Snip has, now, extended capabilities to limit surface boundaries. This function maintains or adjusts control point structure, based on adopting trimming curve characteristics. Automatic Surfacing creates multiple surfaces, whilst maintaining curvature continuity. The software also allows designers to work with multiple designs, comparing and modify the resulting CAD models, so that different versions of a product can be analysed before manufacture.
Imageware has also taken user-friendliness into account and it is now much easier to use, with tool icons available at each step of the surface generation, from point cloud processing to surface creation, surface analysis to the finished surface. Real-time diagnostics and computer-aided verification give the designer the capability of trouble-shooting and modifying the designs.
One of the users of Surfacer, Paul Rozier of Advance Product Development in America says: "our designers have found Surfacer to be an easy tool to learn. We are literally creating surfaces within a few days and are able to use the information immediately in programs." ADPI uses Surfacer for Class 1 car interior components.SHOP-FLOOR VERDICT
It is basically a checking tool to ensure that, whatever products are being produced from a coke bottle to an automobile they conform to the original design, once they are off the production line. Being located on the shop floor, it has to be user-friendly for quality control inspectors who have no familiarity with CAD.
Whereas Verdict is a tool for checking what has already been produced, Build!IT is a tool for setting up accurate jigs and fixtures to assist you in what you are about to do. It is predominantly used in the aerospace industry where very large components (aircraft wings) have to be manufactured to the highest accuracy,and aligned extremely accurately.
The jigs and tools that enable them to achieve this are set up using theodolites Leica Trackers enabling each part to be positioned to very tight tolerances. In essence, it is a reversal of the surface modelling technique, as the jigs become a giant mould within which the entire wing can be assembled. This particular component of Imageware has been especially endorsed by Boeing, which has more than 300 seats working on it!
Integration has also been improved between Imageware and other software packages, such as I-DEAS 8 from SDRC, Catia, Unigraphics, Pro/Engineer and CADDS5. Imageware V10 is used to enhance existing surfacing tools and also to develop new tools for specific design issues. Aiming to increase users productivity significantly, it has been designed to provide a more natural workflow for the user. CUFor more information, contact: Lucy Blake on Tel: 01462 440222 or Email: email@example.com
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