SOLIDWORKS, 3D CAD, Technical Communication

From Design To Production: 3 Tools A Manufacturing Engineer Needs

By Sam Skinner on August 31, 2018

Moving from design to production

SOLIDWORKS makes it easy for engineers to design in 3D. But once the design is complete, we have to manufacture the parts, ensure they meet quality standards and assemble the product. Assembly fixtures and molds need to be designed, assembly guides have to be created for the manufacturing floor and parts have to be checked against the engineering drawings.

At this critical stage in the delivery of products to the consumer, delays and errors can be costly. SOLIDWORKS has grown beyond the realm of product design to offer many tools to help streamline these processes.

The three must-have tools to help take the manufacturing engineer to the next level are SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, SOLIDWORKS Inspection and SOLIDWORKS Composer.

1. SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD

SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD

SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD is not limited to design engineers. This best in class, easy-to-use CAD tool can be leveraged by manufacturing engineers to design assemble fixtures and other custom tools necessary to manufacture parts.

For manufacturers producing molded parts, the Mold Tools features within SOLIDWORKS can aid the engineer in the creation of the mold itself.

With tools like parting line, undercut and draft angle analysis, manufacturing engineers can ensure the parts can be made before the first piece of metal is cut. With advanced surfacing capabilities, engineers can easily work with, and repair, imported models from other CAD software.

>> Watch our On-Demand Webinar, Get to Know SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD

2. SOLIDWORKS Inspection

SOLIDWORKS Inspection

Once we’ve machined out parts, we need to make sure they were made correctly and within tolerance.

Manufacturers have many tools to ensure products meet high standards such as First Article and In-Process inspections, but these processes can be tedious and time-consuming. In many cases, quality assurance (QA) departments are ballooning drawings by hand, generating inspection reports in software such as MS Excel, measuring parts, then manually filling out the report to check the pass/fail status of the part.

SOLIDWORKS Inspection saves time and reduces errors by automating the creation of ballooned inspection drawings and inspection reports. SOLIDWORKS Inspection can be run alongside or completely independent of SOLIDWORKS.

With the SOLIDWORKS Inspection add-in, drawings can be ballooned in seconds. All of the product manufacturing information (PMI) from dimensions, geometric tolerances and notes will automatically populate any standard inspection report format such as an AS9102.

The standalone version of SOLIDWORKS Inspection, manufacturing or quality engineers can take native SOLIDWORKS drawings or drawings from another format such as a PDF or TIFF file and capture the PMI for the inspection report using the powerful built-in optical context recognition (OCR).

Once the information is captured, parts can be checked all at once against the drawing in real time with digital calipers or multiple sets of measurements from a CMM. With this process now almost fully automated, manufacturers can eliminate errors and cut this time-consuming process by up to 90 percent.

>> Watch our On-Demand Webinar, Get to Know SOLIDWORKS Inspection

3. SOLIDWORKS Composer

SOLIDWORKS Composer

Once we’re confident in the quality of our parts, we need to assemble the final product.

During my time as a design engineer, I saw firsthand the difficulties of creating a clear and concise assembly guide for the manufacturing department. We would build a prototype, disassemble it then take pictures of each step in the build process to create an assembly guide. This process couldn’t begin until the design was complete or almost complete.

This tedious process is common practice throughout the industry. SOLIDWORKS Composer makes the creation of assembly guides a breeze. The software doesn’t require experience with SOLIDWORKS and is made to be used by both the technical and non-technical user.

You can easily generate high-quality technical documentation and assembly guides in just a few short steps. Views of each stage in the assembly process can be created along with annotations or even videos to ensure clear instructions are provided to the manufacturing floor.

One big advantage of SOLIDWORKS Composer is that the manufacturing engineer can begin creating the assembly guide long before the design is completed. SOLIDWORKS Composer document is linked to the SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD model. Any changes to the design will automatically be represented in the assembly guide, making updates seamless and effortless. 

With these tools and the many others under the SOLIDWORKS umbrella, manufacturing engineers can be sure that the products they are producing are not only high quality but also get to the customer first!

>> Watch our On-Demand Webinar, Get to Know SOLIDWORKS Composer 

Ready to dive into SOLIDWORKS? Request a quote or demo from our Sales team today! 

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