New Hexagon modelling technology for sheet metal applications enables the ‘flattening’ of 3D models in preparation for manufacturing, making it easier to prepare 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data for production. These new modelling tools also provide fabricators with a competitive advantage by predicting material behavior and helping to create designs for parts and assemblies that perform well with less material.
Sheet metal professionals frequently complete jobs in fewer than 24 hours while striving to underbid and outperform their competition. As customers supply 3D models created in a range of different CAD systems, designers are tasked with extracting data that can’t be immediately used for sheet metal production. The ability to convert those models into 2D drawings and use modelling tools developed specifically for sheet metal processing makes it easier to quickly quote jobs and transition to production. Hexagon’s RADAN software for sheet metal production now includes a direct link to Hexagon’s DESIGNER direct modelling software, which makes it possible to validate models virtually for optimal production.
DESIGNER’s robust modelling capabilities take the guesswork out of production by predicting material behavior during bending operations, eliminating the trial and error that often results in scrap and unproductive machine time. Unique to DESIGNER is its ability to account for bending-tool geometry when highlighting model modifications in response to production processes. Accurate prediction of material performance also helps designers reduce the number of prototypes while maintaining design integrity and part quality.
“Extracting usable production data from 3D models involves a lot of guesswork, even for employees with decades of industry experience, so the ability to immediately put models to use accelerates every subsequent production process,” says Hexagon Product Manager Olaf Körner. “Access to a comprehensive materials database ensures that your company’s expertise isn’t limited to your most experienced employees – who may leave the company and take that wealth of knowledge with them. It’s frustrating and costly to fix problems downstream, so figuring out what works during the engineering phase is crucial to productivity and central to creating efficient designs.”
Improved ability to work with 3D models from a wide range of systems also makes it easier to respond to customers with last-minute design changes or requests for multiple iterations of a part or assembly. Making it easier to communicate production details to shop-floor staff, DESIGNER allows users to add bend lines, bend zones and other important details to 2D drawings. DESIGNER is connected to Hexagon’s SFx platform, which now hosts sheet metal material and bending data that can be accessed by all of a business’s users simultaneously at any time from the cloud. This cloud integration eliminates the need for capital investment to install, manage, and secure the database.
In addition to seamless interoperability with RADAN, DESIGNER’s connection with RADAN Radquote quotation software, Radbend software for bending, and Radtube software for tube processing ensures that its modelling strengths can be applied to every sheet metal process. The software’s link with Radquote enables users to break 3D models of assemblies down into multiple parts for cost analysis, including labour, shipping and transportation. Radquote can now work with a broader range of CAD formats for improved ability to quickly respond to customer requests.
RADAN also provides capabilities that help staff manage parts as they are removed from machinery. It can be a time-consuming struggle to identify and organise parts, especially when multiple jobs are nested simultaneously and when parts look very alike. The software now provides the ability to automatically etch quick-response (QR) codes into parts that can then be scanned for quick and easy identification, or to inform the production team that the parts have been processed. QR codes are shorter than barcodes, which can be difficult to scan, and contain significantly more job information. Unlike sticker labels, QR codes don’t involve labour-intensive removal or leave a residue that requires cleaning before parts can be painted.
The software also offers the ability to customise the amount of automation included in a workflow for greater control over the production process. Templates used to build machinery-specific workflows can be used to automate repetitive tasks and require manual input for others. A new automated reporting function ensures that operator instructions are generated and sent to the shop floor when machine instructions are created, eliminating the need for staff to manually generate reports.
Available with the latest version of Radtube is the ability to etch identification labels onto tubes produced with tenons and slots for easy assembly. The software makes it simple for users to create a tenon, or a notch on the end of a tube that’s made to fit into the slot of another, to ensure that tubes are assembled correctly and can be easily welded by a single employee.