Error-Proofing CAD Designs with DFX
What started as an attempt to computerize the drafting process in the automotive industry in 1960 soon became a popular tool in the form of computer-aided design (CAD) among manufacturers. While 3D printing, computer-based modeling, and geomatics design have made life easier for producers, they haven’t been able to completely eliminate errors. Engineering design entails several complex stage gates and an error at a later stage gate can prove to be extremely expensive. According to multiple studies, the design stage dictates almost 80 percent of total product lifecycle cost. This claim has also been validated by recent research that suggests engineering change order (ECO) costs can account for almost half of total engineering capacity and tool costs.
When CAD is Not Enough
To maximize profits and reduce production costs, organizations have little choice but to look for a solution that can integrate design stage gates and plug the information gap between designers and manufacturers. This will minimize delays in processing ECOs and uncover various aspects of underlying issues emerging from the product development process.
Adding to this problem, CAD standards vary with organizations and domains, and usually are not embedded in authoring tools. There is also a huge gap in the reporting of errors as standard processes do not follow any specific pattern. These deficiencies in existing solutions have created a strong demand for advanced design validation software.
DFX: What’s in an X?
Design for excellence (DFX) is a completely customizable solution that can meet multiple objectives surrounding assembly, cost, logistics, manufacturability, reliability, serviceability, and repairability. It can help manufacturers significantly improve the time to market of new products without compromising on quality. As an add-on tool for existing CAD software, design validation solutions can help enhance overall productivity and lower production costs with first-time-right designs.
A consulting firm recently demonstrated the fruits of DFX, helping its customers save 42 percent of labor cost, 60 percent of assembly time, 45 percent of product development time, and 50 percent of the total cost. DFX however also has the potential to bring down redesign costs from 98-6 percent.
DFX-ing CAD for Error-Free Production
The biggest benefits of DFX include eliminating design errors in situ and making CAD more project-specific by allowing users to embed rules and instructions for design, engineering, manufacturing, and assembly. An ideal DFX solution is likely to have three distinct layers—configuration, CAD application, and reporting layer. While the application layers need to be integrated with the CAD software, the other two can remain independent for maximum customizability.
The configuration layer is where organizations can specify the required parameters, such that the software can identify ongoing design errors and flag them accordingly. The reporting layer can then generate error reports on demand in multiple formats for ease of use.
A customizable DFX solution for design sustainability with low-cost integration and user-friendly reporting can help engineering organizations reduce ECO generation and design cycle time by as much as 70 percent and 25 percent, respectively. With market competition and demand pressure rising by the day, manufacturers and engineering designers need to start reaping these benefits, if they are to stay relevant.