Every great product starts with design. Engineers typically use digital solutions to design their product. But these digital solutions need to extend well beyond design into manufacturing. Let’s look at why this is the case.
Once a design for a new product is complete, engineers require a robust strategy to manufacture the parts of that product. To do so, the manufacturer needs to make some key decisions based on production volume and other factors. For low-volume manufacturing, additive manufacturing may be an option. For moderate or higher volume production, more conventional subtractive manufacturing is usually best.
But no matter which type of manufacturing is selected, companies need a comprehensive set of tools that can support the entire manufacturing journey. Autodesk Fusion 360 is just such a solution. This post will discuss some of its critical features and how they help organizations design and manufacture their products.
Tool and Machine Library
In order to develop the right strategy for manufacturing components of a product, engineers can rely on tools like Autodesk Fusion 360 to help them plan. For example, manufacturing engineers may need to select specific tools to support conventional milling and turning operations. Fusion 360’s extensive tool library helps them do just that. Engineers can use a tool from the solution itself or, for more specific needs, upload their own tool based on their own 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models.
Fusion 360 also contains an extensive machine library that includes most of the standard 2.5-, 3-, 4-, and 5-axis milling, profiling, turning, and turn-mill machines. 3D models of these machines and their kinematics, or digital twins of the machines, are also available. Their availability is important, especially when engineers are doing machine simulation and using the results to make decisions about designing fixtures for holding the stock material. For those use cases and more, it’s clear that having access to an extensive tool library is a crucial enabler that can help speed up manufacturing planning and manufacturing production itself.
Simulation on a Digital Twin of a Machine
Once the right tool path has been identified, engineers can use Fusion 360 to simulate the machining process. Fusion 360 is designed to mimic the toolpath on a digital twin of the actual machine that will be used in production. This presents a serious advantage. Engineers can calculate the machining time for every single operation, including the machining process. When they simulate these processes on Fusion 360 before the numerical control (NC) program is fed into the machine, machine operators will not have to adjust any programs on the fly. By doing these simulations early in the process, they can save time, energy, and stock material. There’s no need to engage in trial and error as engineers change NC programs as they go. The NC programmer can also generate the NC machine code and use it for production once the machining simulation is optimized on the machine’s digital twin.
Support for Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing, or the construction of 3D objects from digital CAD models using 3D printing technologies, has emerged as an excellent option for low-volume production and prototyping. Engineers who use this approach know a good design on the CAD solution isn’t all that’s required for 3D printing. They must take further, critical steps—all of which can be handled by Fusion 360.
Using the 3D print preparation feature, the engineer can select a 3D printer from a well-stocked library of commercial printers, already uploaded to the Fusion 360 solution. Next, the engineer can orient the part to be printed and add the necessary support. Fusion 360 has features that automatically generate the proper support for the part once it’s been oriented.
Fusion 360 can also create the specific toolpaths required to print the part. The entire printing process can be simulated on the computer using the solution before it is 3D printed. By using the 3D print preparation feature in Fusion 360, engineers can print parts correctly the first time, saving time and costs across the product design process.
Full Associativity with Design
One of the greatest benefits of Fusion 360 is the fact that engineers can fully associate the entire manufacturing process with the design. All manufacturing features highlighted in this post work inside an integrated environment in the Fusion 360 solution. Everything associated with manufacturing is connected to the design of the component via a digital thread. When an engineer opens a design in Fusion 360, she can visualize the toolpath simulation, NC machine codes, and the 3D print preparation right inside the design. There are no separate files to keep track of and no extraneous programs required to view and modify the manufacturing details. Most importantly, everything is associative. That means when a design is changed, Fusion 360 can update all associated manufacturing data and provide the necessary notifications to all stakeholders. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and can easily collaborate as they finalize the manufacturing process.
Far Beyond Design
Engineers have long relied on Autodesk Fusion 360 to help them create new designs for products. But Fusion 360 offers engineering teams far more than just a design tool. It can also help manufacturers develop a rugged strategy to manufacture the parts for those newly designed products.
Whether engineers plan to adopt additive or subtractive manufacturing approaches to production, Fusion 360 provides a robust set of features, including a comprehensive tool and machine library, simulation on the digital twin of a machine, support for additive manufacturing, and full associativity with design. These features smooth the path for engineers as they move from design to production.