CAD to CAM | 4 Ways to Manage Revisions

Optimation_CNC_Nesting_Revision_Management

Managing Part Revisions with Optimation CNC Nesting Software

Most manufacturers we encounter have to manage part revisions.  They know there will always be design changes.  And they know changes can be very disruptive to the production process, and changes are ripe for errors.

So, the question arises, how best to manage the inevitable change with minimal disruption and error when communicating designs from CAD to CAM.  Here are four ideas we like to recommend.

Concurrent Engineering  What’s concurrent engineering?  Concurrent engineering says that the design of a part or product is crafted with the ability to manufacture simultaneously considered – or concurrently engineered.  Design and manufacturing engineering are cooperative processes, not sequential processes.  By designing and engineering together fewer revisions are created in the first place.

Best Practice  Move toward a policy of concurrent engineering. Use automatic nesting software that enables concurrent engineering, where design and manufacturability are in sync.    

Duplicate File Storage This probably isn’t the case in your operation, but some manufacturers have two or more holding places for production-ready designs or part programs.  The files may be on a designer’s terminal and the shop floor terminal.  They may be on a local PC and the network.  They may be on paper and in electronic form.  The good news is most of the time this process works.  Except when communication breaks down, and there are  errors because the wrong version was pulled.

Best Practice  Identify a single holding location for design files – possibly in a directory within the full-featured CAD software.  Identify a separate holding location, i.e. “parts to produce” file, with manufacture-ready or programmed parts.  This could be within the CAM software. Use automatic nesting software that can pull files from the CAD software or directory.

Modifying a Standard Design for a Make-to-Order Product.  It’s not uncommon for a basic design to be changed as needed for each customer.  Some manufacturers may make a standard door file, then change the window size as needed for example. When all of the products are custom, but based on a template, it is sometimes easier to modify a standard CAD file instead of creating mounds of new files for each customer.  Easier to design, yes.  Prone to revision errors, absolutely.  And what do you do if your CAD file is discarded, and you need it again?

Best Practice  Move to a practice of creating unique designs for each part.  File them by job number, customer number, or order number and date the files.  If a mishap happens and the part needs to be reproduced, it can be easily retrieved.  We’re in a day and age now that storage space for a voluminous amount of files is a nominal cost.  There’s not a solid reason why the space – or lack there of – should be an argument against creating custom part designs.   Using an automatic nesting software that can identify these files and readily extract them as needed. 

Two CAD packages  Most manufacturers have a full-featured CAD package (SolidWorks®, AutoCAD®, Inventor®).  But then some have an additional CAD/CAM package where the manufacturing work (nesting, tooling, tool path) is done. The secondary CAD package appended to the nesting (CAM) software is simply a translator from the full-featured CAD package to the CAM software.  It doesn’t add value.  It creates opportunities for revision errors and duplicate parts. The big point is that any time you open the door to two CAD packages used in sequence; the opportunities abound for revision errors.  Where’s the golden version?  Which CAD package has the latest version?

Best Practice  Don’t use two CAD packages in a linear or production sequence.

Use Optimation automatic nesting software.  It employs all of these best practices to save time, money, and reduce errors.

 What have your experiences been with managing revisions?  Do you have a best practice to recommend?  Post a comment and let us know.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: CAD to CAM | 4 Ways to Manage Revisions

2 comments on “CAD to CAM | 4 Ways to Manage Revisions

  1. Pingback: CNC Automatic Nesting Software | CAD to CAM | 4 Best Practices Relaying Manufacturing Data | Optimation Blog

  2. Pingback: Evaluating the Sheet Metal Nesting Process | CAD to CAM | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

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