Simpler Sharing of Design Files is on the Horizon

Myriad acronyms segment the world of design tools: CAD, CAM, CAE and PLM to name a few. Whether the tools are computer-aided design/manufacturing/engineering or product lifecycle management, there’s a push to ensure that diverse design tools from multiple suppliers can communicate freely.

At a recent PLM conference for Dassault Systèmes customers, speakers from many companies and trade associations described their efforts to use design tools more efficiently. Trade associations NAFEMS and ICORE, which together have more than 10,000 members, teamed up to create the Systems Modeling and Simulation Working Group. One of its goals is to help OEMs see how subsystems work together.

Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada detailed its plans to use design tools to reduce the complexity of many aspects of its design and manufacturing processes by 50 to 70 percent. Motion control giant Parker Hannifin detailed a mechatronics roadmap that uses these tools to trim non-recurring engineering costs by 40 percent while cutting warranty costs in half. A speaker from Northrop Grumman told audience members that “time in our world is limited by data communications.”

IPC is stepping up its efforts to ensure that data communications becomes easier for those who develop and produce printed boards. IPC-2581B, Generic Requirements for Printed Board Assembly Products Manufacturing Description Data and Transfer Methodology, is one of the first standards that has a chance of seeing widespread acceptance. It’s supported by the IPC-2581 Consortium, whose members are helping drive acceptance.

Looking way back, Ethernet simplified communications after a period when there were many different networks. TCP/IP protocols have also made it far simpler to access files of all types. It will be great to see similar progress with the acceptance of IPC-2581, making it simpler to move designs from concepts to manufactured products.

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