The Design Technology Company or DTCo. was very pleased to take part in the Victorian Manufacturing Showcase for 2019 (VMS19). This annual event enables local industry to showcase their successes in manufacturing products for local, and often global, markets. As a design service provider, DTCo. enables Victorian manufacturing businesses to have access to the right design technologies and meet the capacity requirements of their projects.
At the VMS19 we exhibited several design technologies all based around our core business of 3D models and CAD. These were:
- Augmented Reality – the paperless work instruction
- Virtual Reality – how to use VR for better commercial outcomes
- Topology Optimisation – how technology can produce the ultimate fit-for-purpose part
Augmented reality has come leaps and bounds in recent times, from DTCo’s point of view one of the most significant changes has been the implementation of ‘model-based target’ technology. This removes the need to place artificial targets in the real work to orientate the AR experience. At VMS19 we had two examples of this.
The below video shows how we created an Augmented Reality Work Instruction to improve operator efficiency and accuracy and ultimately remove the requirement for paper-based, 2D documentation
This technology provides operators with task-specific information in the context of their surrounding environment. In this example, we used a rapid modelling technique to create a 3D model of the real-world environment. This model was the foundation for the Augmented Reality Work Instruction. The objective of this work instruction is to guide operators to remove the items off the shelves, then dis-assemble, move and re-assemble the racking.
While this is only a simple example of an Augmented Reality Work Instructions, this technology provides operators with more relevant and contextual information in an intuitive way.
This improves their efficiency and accuracy when carrying out tasks.
In the second example of an Augmented Reality technology application, we showed the fuselage of Silvertone’s Flamingo Mk3 UAV. In this instance, we designed several options for carrying payloads in the nose cone region of the aircraft. We had a desire to view these payload mounting solutions on the fuselage. To do this we used the fuselage as the model target for the AR experience, we then ‘attached’ the different bracket options and were also able to view them in different stages of assembly.
Arguably the above could have been achieved either directly in CAD on a desktop monitor or in VR as we had a model of the complete aircraft. However, for a more complex piece of equipment where a full 3D model was not available then AR would be very applicable. The most efficient workflow would be to model the new and one interfacing part. We then could create the AR experience to see how the new part interacts with the other parts around it.
Thanks to Silvertone for allowing us to develop this on their platform in a real-world application.
Virtual Reality is becoming very common in mechanical design projects across all industries. It offers great advantages, particularly when reviewing large scale (think buildings or infrastructure in processing plants). VR gives improves our ability to understand whether a design solution will satisfy the design requirements while highlighting unforeseen issues. Typically we find issues are identified in VR that would not normally be picked up on desktop monitors. This early-stage review de-risks projects by uncovering unknowns and resolving issues earlier, usually before steel have been cut.
We had 3 x example on show at VMS19:
- Architecture – a mixed environment from CAD and Photogrammetry
- Industrial plant – a mixed environment of Laser Scanning and CAD
- Architecture – VR for complex design reviews
- Industrial Plant – plant room walk-through
Architecture – a mixed environment from CAD and Photogrammetry
Our client is building a complex architecturally designed structure on a small block in a congested suburban area. There are several heritage-listed buildings in immediate proximity. We were able to use photogrammetry to quickly create a model of the surrounding buildings, then combine this with the computer-generated model of the proposed structure. The process of capturing the photos, generating the photogrammetry model, then combining with the existing 3D data to generate a VR experience took 1-2 days to complete. The VR experience has subsequently been developed further to consider stages of construction. It has enabled key stakeholders ranging from property owners through to riggers and steel fabricators to understand the project and provide better feedback on their requirements at an early stage.
Industrial Plant – a mixed environment of Laser Scanning and CAD
In the second VR scene, we demonstrated how we can use data captured from a laser scanner to digitise a brownfield or existing site. We scanned a warehouse, then generated a mesh from the laser scan. We were then able to accurately measure from dimensions from this mesh. In this hypothetical example, we then added equipment inside the warehouse to evaluate layouts etc. In addition, we could have modelled new elements such as walkways or platforms that interface with the existing structure. While this example is hypothetical, we have carried out many real-world applications where we scan the real world, model the desired changes, then review both the existing and the new in VR. Typical comments from our clients are ‘wow, this is the first time someone has shown us what we are going to get before we get it’. We find that many clients struggle to engage in the technology, however, once they do, it becomes mandated on all future (relevant) projects.
Architecture – VR for complex design reviews
We were tasked to prepare a manufacturable design and produce drawings for a complex staircase made up of complex curves. We requested to make some changes to the design to improve manufacturability. VR enabled us to review the impact of these changes. On our first pass, it was obvious that the changes would affect the design curves in an unacceptable way, this was only obvious in VR and not on the desktop monitor. We took a different approach in our design for manufacture efforts which solved the initial problem, however, we then identified several minor issues in VR that were easily rectifiable. Again, these issues were not identified on the desktop monitor.
Overall, this project had a great outcome with a satisfied client. VR was critical to ensuring that we delivered a design that was manufacturable but also met the aesthetic requirements.
Industrial Plant – Trility Water plant room walkthrough
Trility provides water treatment solutions and on several occasions DTCo. provided 3D modelling (CAD) support for their team. This high fidelity VR experience has been used to manage expectations around what a typical plant looks like and has been used at trade shows. The model is geometrically accurate and a very close representation of what was actually built. Primarily, the model was created in Autodesk’s Inventor CAD package enabling a very high level of detail to be included on all of the features such as valves and other equipment. For the purposes of the VMS19 we provided an alternative where the plant model was produced using primarily Autodesk’s Plant 3D software with a few pieces of equipment being modelled in Inventor where necessary. The alternative, Plant 3D, workflow for modelling can create a geometrically accurate model that is connected to the process’ P&ID. It is excellent for producing detailed piping and equipment layouts and manufacturing drawings in the shortest possible time, however, does lack some detail (often superfluous) in the VR space.
Possibly the most interesting design we had on show was a bracket that was designed for Silvertone’s Flamingo Mk3. Silvertone were seeking to mount a heavy sensor package to their aircraft. This sensor package pushed the boundaries of the Flamingo platform in both total mass and also the location of the increased payload. Effectively, the aircraft needed to lose weight, specifically forward of the main fuselage (or CoG). Any decrease in mass could directly translate to additional fuel capacity and hence flight duration which correlated to the cost of operation of the platform.
DTCo. consulted with Altair and then used Inspire from the solidThinking toolset. We were then able to create a topology optimised design (often referred to as generative design) for the bracket. The bracket was designed based on flight (and landing) load conditions that were supplied by Silvertone with the intention of using additive manufacturing to build the part from Titanium. With the loading conditions, connection points, packaging space and material known we were able to use Altair’s Inspire software to generate the optimal design. Preliminary analysis suggests that we have reduced mass in the front of the aircraft by ~600g which, when substituted for fuel, translates to nearly two hours of additional flight time…..for every flight. A considerable commercial improvement.
Unfortunately we were unable to have the actual part on show at VMS19, however, Michael, Sarah and the team at Metal 3D are currently in the process of printing this complex part. In the near future, we expect to conduct some flight trials on the Flamingo Mk 3. Watch this space.