No doubt you have seen the growth and interest of 3D Printing and additive manufacturing over the recent years, especially as the capabilities of the technology permit not only prototypes to be created but fully functioning metal and ceramic parts and assemblies. This manufacturing method coming to the forefront has the capability to radically change the way production is done, especially for products that have low volumes or more importantly high degrees of configuration options. The ability to take a base assembly and allow for dynamic changes to be made to the unit to exactly meet the customer’s demands will bring the most value to the technology and yield the largest revenue and financial outcome.
So let’s take a look at what we shall call the trifecta of digital manufacturing. Starting with the ability for a customer to have a requirement that is unique and will need to specify attributes for a product. This may be input and output shaft sizes for a drive unit, physical layouts of a panel-board or any number of options. True, these options may be specific choices such as a ½” shaft, ¾” shaft or 1” but perhaps they need something like a shaft that is .537 inches in diameter . . . very custom. Is there any reason with the technology today that we cannot deliver exactly what the client requires? Absolutely not as with the use of a proper rules based configuration engine, the flexibility is unlimited.
Now that the client has told us what they want through the configurator, we need to model that resulting system. This is where 3D visualization comes into the picture. The CPQ engine will drive the 3D CAD model directly, creating a parametric model that can be flexed according to the client’s requirements and producing a realistic dimensionally accurate rendering and model.
In some cases, the client may need visualizations that are better represented in a 2D flexed model. Ideally the CPQ engine can accommodate the ability to present both a fast 2d model to provide ‘sales enablement’ models, drawings and images as well as the 3d model that will be used for manufacturing. This need to support the client’s need for multiple configured documents to fit their needs exactly through all phases of the buying cycle is critical to increase close rates and sales wins.
Now that the client has provided the approval of the configured design by reviewing the visualizations of what they need, they can place the order. Ideally this will be done within the same system and context that the quotation was created so that no room for error can take place. Recall that our 3d model defined in the CPQ engine and created in CAD will drive our 3d printer for the Additive Manufacturing Process. Most of the top 3D CAD solutions such as Solidworks and others have the ability to drive 3d printers directly. Now the exact unit can be produced with the exact attributes that the client asked for. In ideal situations this whole process did not require engineering time or human interaction which adds cost, time and potential errors. Staying within an end to end fully digital model is the desired state as nothing is lost in translation.
So what does it take to achieve this manufacturing typology that can provide customers exactly what they want, when they want it? It’s not as complex as you may think.
- A Configure Price Quote (CPQ) system that has the ability for flexibility in rule sets and the ability to directly interface and drive 3d parametric CAD models in real time
- CPQ that can support the creation of 2d and 3d visualizations and renderings to enable sales enablement
- CPQ solution that can create bundled document packages that are created from the CPQ models as well as 2d renderings from CAD
- A CAD solution that can support model flexing in 3d from a CPQ solution
- A CAD solution that can use the 3d models to drive a 3d printer directly without translation or manual manipulation
The bottom line is that with currently available CPQ and CAD solutions, this manufacturing methodology is a reality and can provide an excellent differentiation to companies that desire to stand ahead of their competition.
For more information visit www.cpq-configurepricequote.com