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  • Plastic Part Analysis

    A plastic part analysis is a core feature in our product development stage, as we try to eliminate 95% of manufacturing errors at the design stage to build the most economical and quality parts. Further down here explains the process and terms involved in this analysis. For this illustration, we used a standard stool model for ABS material analysed on Solidworks Plastic Simulation. Fill Time The fill time plot above displays the profile of the plastic melt as it flows through the mold part cavity during the filling stage of the injection molding process. The blue regions indicate the start or beginning of the flow front. The red regions indicate either of the following: The flow front position at any given time interval during an animation of the filling stage The end of fill when the flow has stopped, even if the software detects a short shot The filling pattern radiates out from the centre (blue) to the end of fill (red) located at each corner of the part. The colour scale situated to the left of the part indicates the time it takes for the flow front to reach a given cavity region. Since fill time is a function of flow length (among other things), the furthest corners away from the injection location are the last to fill. Injection locations The injection location is where the melted plastic enters a mold cavity. The last cavity area to fill is called the “end of fill”, typically located furthest from the injection location or in the thinnest wall sections. When a mold cavity cannot be filled by an injection location situated on either end of the part because the flow length is too long, you should move the injection location to a different location, resulting in shorter flow paths. Moving the injection location to a central location will also minimize injection pressure requirements and result in a more uniform filling pattern from the injection location to the end of fill. Note that a change in injection location might result in a non-uniform filling of the cavity, where the melt reaches one end before the other. In this example, even though the melt has to travel in two directions, the flow length is cut in half, allowing the cavity to fill. You can review the fill time plot to ensure that the extremities of the cavity are filled simultaneously. Use the results found from the initial change in injection location to find the optimum injection location. The injection location located at the middle of the handle’s left edge fills the lower section before the head of the drill casing. This uneven filling pattern will likely result in non-uniform packing and volumetric shrinkage and could cause post-moulding problems (such as warpage) in part. You can review the fill time plot to ensure that the extremities of the cavity are filled simultaneously. Use the results found from the initial change in injection location to find the optimum injection location. The injection location located at the middle of the handle’s left edge fills the lower section before the head of the drill casing. This uneven filling pattern will likely result in non-uniform packing and volumetric shrinkage and could cause post-molding problems (such as warpage) in part. Air Traps In the molding process, when air is not vented out from the mold cavity during the filling stage, the trapped air can prevent the plastic material from filling the volume where the air traps are created, resulting in incomplete filling and packing. In some scenarios, the trapped air can get compressed, combust and cause burn marks on the molded part and/or damage the mold core and cavity surfaces. Placing a parting line vent, ejector pin, cavity insert, or a porous metal insert at these locations can help reduce or prevent air traps from occurring. Still, it is best to avoid them altogether. Weld Lines Weld lines are formed when two or more plastic melt fronts. They can be caused by mold shut-off surfaces, mold core features, multiple injection locations or wall thickness variations that cause flow front promotion or hesitation. Weld lines are typically weaker than areas without weld lines, and they often result in cosmetic defects. They can also act as stress concentrators in the molded part. Weld lines generally form 180degree opposite the point where the melt front makes contact with the standing core of a shut-off surface. Weld lines are unavoidable in parts with through-holes or multiple injection locations. So it needs to move the injection location to change the weld line; the weld line cannot be eliminated. Velocity Vector at the end of Fill The velocity vector at the end of the fill plot indicates the molecular orientation that occurs as the melted plastic flows through the mold part cavity. Spherical fillers result in a more uniform distribution of mechanical properties in both the direction of flow and transverse to flow direction. For fillers with high aspect ratios, mechanical properties in the flow direction differ from those transverse to the flow direction. A material with a high aspect ratio filler will typically have improved properties in the flow direction and lower mechanical properties transverse to the flow direction. Pressure at the end of fill During the filling stage, the forward injection velocity of the reciprocating screw is controlled, which results in the pressure required to fill the cavity at that velocity. The injection pressure is propagated through the molten plastic and results in a pressure drop distributed along the flow length. The pressure at the end of the fill is an excellent indication of how evenly the cavity has filled. Pressure drop is a function of flow length, part wall thickness, and melt viscosity. High pressures are required to fill thin-walled injection molded parts since the flow resistance through the smaller cross-sectional area is more outstanding. When the software detects a short shot, place the injection location near the middle of the part to reduce the flow length to about half the length of the part. If the injection location is near the end of a part, the flow length is essentially the entire length of the part. With the injection location located in the middle, flow lengths and injection pressure requirements are reduced even though the plastic flow must travel in two directions. Temperature at End of Fill At the end of the fill, the plastic in contact with the cavity wall freezes into a very thin frozen layer that has cooled down to the temperature of the mold. The thickness of this frozen layer is independent of the thickness of the part wall. The thickness is dependent on the melt and mold temperature differential and the material thermal conductivity. Bulk Temperature at the end of Fill During the fill stage, changes in the melt temperature are calculated using parameters such as time, distance from the cavity wall, and part wall thickness. At the end of the fill plot, the bulk temperature displays how much the melt has changed from the set melt temperature. The Bulk Temperature plot indicates stagnant material, which has cooled significantly by the end of fill, in blue. The plastic material with a velocity just before filling, which retains heat, is red. Temperature Growth at End of Fill The polymer melt undergoes shear heating during the fill stage in the injection moulding process. This increase in temperature is due to elevated shear rates, which can raise the melt temperature in the cavity to above the set melt temperature. The temperature increase can result from too short filling time, the use of small injection locations, or material flow characteristics. Degradation of the material can occur under extreme conditions. Shear Stress at End of Fill Shear stress is a measure of shear force per unit area. The direction of the shear force is parallel to the plane of the force (the cavity wall) and can be thought of as the force melt used to push the cavity wall in the direction of flow (not pushing outward normal to the wall). t = F/A t = Shear stress F = Applied force A = Cross-sectional area of the material that is parallel to the applied force vector This diagram displays a moving wall sliding past a stationary fluid. As the wall moves, it drags the fluid forward with the motion. The moving wall applies more shear stress to the liquid it is in contact with and applies minimal shear stress on the fluid furthest away in connection with the stationary wall. This example is backwards when compared to plastic flow through a cavity. The wall does not move, and the plastic melt moves along the cavity wall. Think of the stationary wall in the diagram as the centre of flow through a cavity. The material in the centre of flow moves with the least resistance, while the material along the cavity wall does not move due to the greater flow resistance. Now take a cross-section of the melt, and imagine that extra force required to flow along the cavity wall is related to the higher shear stresses. The material in the centre of flow exhibits far less shear stress because there is less resistance to flow. Shear Rate at End of Fill The shear rate measures the velocity of a fluid layer passing over another layer of fluid at a different velocity. The frozen plastic material in contact with the cavity wall does not move relative to the wall, resulting in a zero shear rate (0.0 1/sec). The molten plastic material inside the frozen layer moves over the frozen material, which yields a positive shear rate (>0.0 1/sec). The shear rate increases until a maximum are reached just inside the wall. Then the shear rate begins to decrease toward the flow centre, running a local minimum in the centre. This minimum occurs because the polymer chains at the centre of the flow move at the same speed and do not move relative to each other, resulting in a zero (0.0 1/sec) shear rate. This graph displays the value of the relative movement of polymer chains as they move past each other at different velocities. Polymer chains slide past each other, moving at different velocities, resulting in a positive shear rate. For example, the polymer chains that freeze along the cavity wall do not carry (outer minimums). Still, the molten polymer chains flowing past them induce an extremely high shear rate (maximums). The two polymer chains at the flow centre move at the same velocity, which does not produce any shear (centre minimum). Volumetric Shrinkage at End of Fill The volumetric shrinkage at the end of fill can indicate areas of potential concern. High shrinkage rates will occur in thick sections of a plastic part that do not undergo a sufficient packing stage during the molding process. For example, if you do not include an adequate packing stage, high amounts of shrinkage will occur at the locations indicated in yellow and red by the volumetric shrinkage at the end of the fill plot. Another form of shrinkage occurs in the formation of voids. Sometimes, bubbles can be seen inside the part wall in a transparent molded part. These bubbles are not air bubbles; they are vacuum voids. A void occurs when the part surface is rigid enough to retain its shape, and the molten core material tears itself apart from the inside, creating a vacuum void. Voids also occur in opaque plastic parts, but they cannot be seen outside. The molded part must be cut open to see if voids are happening. Typically, voids occur in thicker sections and in areas of changing wall thicknesses (around the connecting rim of a boss or along with the transition from a part wall to a rib). Freezing Time at End of Fill The scale used for the freezing time at the end of fill indicates the time required for the molten plastic material to cool down to its glass transition temperature. The required time depends on the temperature differential between the melt temperature and the mold temperature and the thermal conductivity of the melt and mold. The time needed to reduce a molten melt material to its glass transition temperature is not required to cool the part to its ejection temperature. The material deflection temperature under flexural load is the material ejection temperature. A plastic material deflection temperature under flexural load is roughly 2/3 the material glass transition (Tg) or melt temperature (Tm) in degrees Kelvin. Cooling Time The cooling stage is committed to reducing the material temperature to the deflection temperature under flexural load, the ejection temperature. Typically, cooling time is 70% of the total cycle time. Two factors that affect cooling time are melt temperature and mold temperature. Increasing either temperature typically results in increased cooling time. Plastics require long cooling times because they are good insulators with low thermal conductivities. Cooling time is proportional to the square of the part wall thickness; doubling the thickness quadruples the cooling time. To reduce cooling times, you should make the part wall thickness uniform and as thin as safely possible. Temperature at End of Cooling The temperature at the end of the cooling plot is based on when 90% of the part volume is below the material deflection temperature under flexural load, the ejection temperature. If there is a large temperature distribution in thick regions of the part, several problems may occur sink marks, internal voids, or warpage. You should design the part with a uniform wall thickness to reduce these problems. Sink Marks Sink marks are depressions on the surface of an injection-moulded plastic part. The fundamental cause of sink marks is that not enough polymer molecules have been packed into a part to compensate for the shrinkage. Thicker sections of a part cool slower than thinner sections, resulting in significant shrinkage in the thicker branches. After the outer plastic material has cooled and solidified, the molten core material must transfer heat through the solidified plastic surface to the cavity wall. Plastic materials are insulators and do not transfer heat efficiently, which slows down the cooling rate of the thicker core volumes. The more time a plastic material has to cool, the more the material will shrink. The high degree of shrinkage in the core volume pulls the part’s surface inward, causing depression on the part surface. You can use these design rules to minimize sink marks: When safely possible, design with uniform part wall thickness. Place injection locations at thicker sections of the part so that the thicker sections can be packed at higher pressures. Avoid using injection locations that are too small, preventing sufficient packing of the part cavity. Ribs and bosses should be approximately 60 to 80 per cent of the nominal wall thickness. Injection Location Filling Contribution When you only use one injection location, the cavity is filled by that one injection location. When you use multiple injection locations, the cavity is partially filled with material entering from each injection location. As a result of using multiple injection locations, there will be a significant weld line located where the flow fronts merge. The weld line is at the interface of the green and blue regions. Ease of Fill You can use the ease of fill plot to determine whether the cavity fills successfully. The green regions indicate areas that can be filled under normal injection pressures. The yellow regions indicate areas where the injection pressure exceeds 70 per cent of the machine’s maximum injection pressure. The red regions indicate areas where the injection pressure exceeds 85 per cent of the machine’s maximum injection pressure. Simulate a part cavity only (with no runners), and the ease of fill plot has yellow or red areas. It would help if you tried increasing wall thickness, moving the injection location, adding additional injection locations, changing the material, or adjusting the processing parameters to decrease the pressure required to fill.

  • SOLIDWORKS PERFORMANCE AND SYSTEM OPTIONS

    The performance for design software to be able to reduce the lag time (the time from when you execute a command until it completes), a number of settings within SolidWorks and the operating system can speed up or slow down performance. There is no single way to set up SolidWorks, so it is important to understand the effects of different settings in order to make an informed choice. Often, improved performance comes at the expense of model image quality. SolidWorks options are divided into two groups, system options and document properties. System options apply to SolidWorks, independent of whatever file is open, while document properties apply only to the open document and are initially set by the template used to create the document. Some settings are purely user preference, but many of the settings determine the ultimate performance of the system and may need to be selected. In the following section, we will look at the different system options that affect performance and some recommended settings. The SolidWorks options that have no significant effect on performance and are strictly user preference will not be discussed. System options affect everything you do in SolidWorks. Changes to the system options customize your work environment. They are not saved with a specific document. Rather, any document opened on your system will reflect these settings. Solidworks general options General The general options to Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer and to Show the latest news feeds in the task pane should be cleared as both take up processing power and CPU time that can be better spent on assembly performance. Enable Freeze bar should be selected as this function can be used to prevent features in components from being rebuilt unnecessarily. Solidworks Drawings options Drawings The highlighted options relate to drawing speed. Show contents while dragging drawing view causes SolidWorks to continually update the graphics inside drawings views as you drag the view. if you clear this option, the contents of the view have to be recalculated only when you stop dragging it, eliminating a lot of real-time calculations.Allow auto-update when opening drawings. If you clear this option, drawings will open faster as the information in all the views will not update until you rebuild the drawing. Automatically hide components on view creation. This Option hides components that are not visible in the view, such as components completely enclosed within another component. SolidWorks must calculate the visibility of each component in the view to determine which components are not visible, and that takes valuable time to do. This option is off by default in Large Assembly Mode. Save tessellated data for drawings with shaded and draft quality views. If you clear this option, file size is reduced, which reduces the amount of data that is loaded when the drawing is opened. If this data is in the drawing it will be loaded from the model. The disadvantage of this option is that the views will be empty in view-only mode and when viewed with eDrawings®. Drawings, Display Style, select draft quality so that all new views are created in draft quality. While you might expect a large increase in performance, this setting will have only a small effect as High-quality views are processed in the background. Colors change the Background appearance to plain. This avoids using other movable backgrounds that have to be recalculated as the model viewpoint is changed. Select use specified color for drawings paper color as this has the same effect on drawings as the background appearance had for parts and assemblies. Display/ Selection, set the Assembly transparency for in-context edit to Maintain assembly transparency. As calculating transparency is intensive, keeping at the assembly at the same level. Solidworks Default Templates Options Default Templates Certain operations in SolidWorks automatically create a new part, assembly, or drawing document. Some examples are: Insert, Mirror Part Insert, Component, New Part Insert, Component, New Assembly Form New Subassembly Here File, Derive Component Part In these situations, you have the option of either specifying a template to use or having the system use a default template. This option is a matter of preference; however, it is generally faster to have a default template specified as it will save a few mouse clicks by having the template defined. It will also ensure that the correct template is used if you have several templates but use only one. If, however, you use multiple templates because of different requirements for different customers, select Prompt user to select document template and you will have a choice each time a new file is created. Solidworks Document Properties Options Document Properties These are established in the templates used to create SolidWorks files. It is important to remember that the option setting described here should be set in the templates to ensure their use in future files. The most important document property with respect to performance is Image Quality. The slider affects the shaded display of the assembly and part and controls the tessellation of the curved surfaces for shaded rendering. The farther to the right the slider is adjusted, the smoother the edges will appear and the slower the performance. The basic rule is to set the sliders as far to the left as you can tolerate. In most cases, two or three tick marks from the left side are acceptable to most people. In the example below, moving the slider from Low to High causes more than 2,500 times more triangles to be calculated, which causes a significant slowdown in performance. Note: The triangles shown in the images are not clearly visible to the viewer; they are generated for the purpose of illustration only. When you are working in an assembly, the image quality for each component is controlled by the document properties of the individual components. When you select Apply to all referenced part documents, the resolution of the individual parts can be changed to a common resolution. Save Tessellation with Part Document Clearing this option may initially appear to be a good idea as it will reduce the size of the files. However, the downside is that you will lose visualization data. The tessellation data saved with the file provides the display information for view-only mode, the SolidWorks Viewer, and eDrawings. SolidWorks Add-ins Turn off all SolidWorks add-ins that you are not using. Each add-in consumes system resources. Solidworks Assemblies Options Assemblies Large Assemblies Mode is a toggle that automatically changes certain settings when opening an assembly with more components than the threshold value. In large-scale design, Large Assemblies Mode is usually selected. The threshold value is a choice you make depending on the sizes of your assemblies and the capability of the hardware you are using. The primary function of the Large Assembly Mode is to ‘ increase performance by turning off functions that require more computations. Do not save auto recover info, the periodic saving of your work in progress can be a great benefit if people do not routinely save their work or if you are experiencing frequent problems with computer crashes that you have not yet solved. These auto recover save operations can take a significant amount of time and interrupt the workflow. Hide all planes, axes, sketches, curves, annotations, etc. This option is the same as selecting Hide All Types in the View menu. By hiding all these entities, the computational load is diminished. Do not display edges in shaded mode, calculating all the edges in a large assembly can be time—consuming. This option just shows the components as shaded without edges. Suspend automatic rebuild, when assemblies are large, recalculating assembly and mates after every change can be very slow. By suspending automatic rebuild, you can make several changes and then do a single manual rebuild. While this speeds the input, if there is an error, it will not show up until the rebuild. This may make the troubleshooting process more difficult. You can also suspend automatic rebuilds when the assembly is open by right-clicking the top-level icon of the assembly and toggling Suspend automatic rebuild. Use Large Design Review, this is a toggle that causes assemblies above the threshold value of the number of components to be opened in Large Design Review mode. This should be selected and a toggle value determined based on the Size of the assemblies you normally open. This option can save a considerable amount of time when used. Solidworks External References Options External References The settings under External References look very simple and unimportant, however, they can significantly affect the performance of opening and saving large assemblies. Open referenced documents with read-only access, when you open an assembly as read-only, the component files are not opened read-only unless this is selected or the files have already been opened by someone else who has to write access to the files. It is a good idea to have this option selected. If not, when you open the assembly, you get write access to all the component files, even if you have no intention of making any changes to those files. This prevents other people from being able to change these files. Don't prompt to save read-only referenced documents, if you select the option to Open referenced documents with read-only access, you should also select this option. If you do not, SolidWorks will prompt you several times for each component file when you try to save the assembly. In a large assembly, this can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Load referenced documents, this option determines if documents that are referenced by components in the assembly should also be opened. Selecting Prompt will ask the user if these files should be opened when the assembly is opened. Depending on the stage of development, selecting Prompt is usually a good choice as it allows the user to only load references as necessary. Search file locations for external references, this option turns on the search of the file locations listed in the File Locations, Referenced Documents list. This option should be cleared except when specifically trying to locate files that have been moved improperly. Leaving this option selected can cause a significant increase in file opening time if there is a long list and file paths. Solidworks Image Options Performance Performance and Image Quality are related and have a button to quickly jump between the two settings. Verification on rebuild causes each face in a model to be checked against all other faces in the model. When this option is cleared, each face is checked only against the surrounding faces. While it is important to make sure that you have a good model by using Verification on rebuild, you do not have to leave it on all the time. Instead, turn this option on periodically and do a forced rebuild (Ctrl+Q) to make sure the model builds without errors. Then clear the option. This allows you to work faster but also to check your models to avoid a catastrophic error. Solidworks Transparency Options Transparent surfaces require precise ordering and rendering of the model to accurately reflect what is visible behind the object. Both front and back faces need to be considered as well as colours. Both options should be cleared to result in a lower quality. transparency display, both when the model is stationary and when moving. This will allow the model to be panned and rotated more quickly. Selecting High quality for normal view mode will cause the transparency to be high quality when the model is stationary. Selecting High quality for dynamic view mode will cause the model to be high quality when the model is being panned or rotated. Automatically load components lightweight this is a choice that depends on the complexity and size of the assemblies you work on. There is a similar option in Large Assembly Mode that will load components lightweight when assemblies reach the large assembly threshold. If you routinely open assemblies below the large assembly threshold but only work on a few of the components, then this option should be selected. Level of detail, moving this slider to the far right will allow the model to be moved, panned and rotated faster. This option causes the smaller components to change to blocks when you move, pan, zoom, or rotate the assembly. Once the assembly stops moving, the components will again be displayed normally. Always resolve sub-assemblies, this option should be cleared. If it is selected, subassemblies are automatically resolved when the top-level assembly is opened, lightweight. This removes some of the advantages of opening the assembly lightweight. Check out-of-date lightweight components, generally, you should make sure that components are up-to-date when working on an assembly to keep from working on something that has already been changed. Choosing the option Indicate will cause a flag to be shown in the FeatureManager® design tree for all out-of-date components. This allows you to update only components that are needed rather than all components and in doing so, increase performance. Resolve lightweight components, if you load components lightweight but then need the component resolved to perform some task, setting this option to Always will save a step. Always will resolve the component automatically if the operation you are performing needs the component resolved. This saves time by not having to agree to resolve the component. Rebuild assembly on load, this is an option that should be set to Always. This will rebuild the assembly when it is opened, avoiding the problem of working on out-of-date geometry. While it will take longer to open the assembly, this additional time is better than working on incorrect geometry, which can cost even more time. Mate animation speed, if the mate animation speed is set to any position other than Off, SolidWorks must calculate intermediate positions for components between where they start and where they will be once mated. By turning this off the intermediate positions do not have to be calculated and the component will jump directly to the mated position. Software OpenGL, with no files open, examine Use software OpenGL. If it is checked and greyed out, you need a new video card. When SolidWorks launches, it checks the video card against a list of video cards that meet the requirements for SolidWorks. If your card does not meet the requirements, SolidWorks will automatically select Use Software OpenGL. This means that instead of your video card running hardware OpenGL, the tasks will be done by the software. This further taxes the CPU and slows down your system. Here again, you are balancing the cost of new equipment against the time lost by not having it. As the assembly size grows, using Software OpenGL will result in significant lost time and user frustration. No Preview During Open if a preview is not shown when a file is opened, more memory can be dedicated to the resources to load the files into memory. Solidworks View Options View transitions are nice for presentations and can sometimes make it easier to see changes; however, this comes with a decrease in performance. When any of the transitions are set to something other than Off, SolidWorks must calculate intermediate positions or transparencies. This requires processing power that could be better spent in actual design. Backup/ Recover, from a pure performance perspective, Auto-recover should be turned off as it can take a noticeable amount of time to save the files. This will usually occur just as you have a brilliant idea and are trying to implement it. If you are undisciplined in your work habits, turn on Auto-recover. However, if you save often, you can turn it off so that the save takes place when you want it to and does not interfere with your workflow. File Explorer, like add-ins, only locations that you are routinely using should be selected. By selecting other locations, each time you select the File Explorer tab, those selected locations have to be read and populated into the File Explorer. If you are not using those locations, this is just wasted effort. File and Model Search, when working on large assemblies and projects, you want the computer resources to be working on your design and not background tasks. Indexing should be performed when the computer is idle so as not to take computational resources away from our design time. If dissection is scheduled, make sure it is set to run during nonworking hours. Solidworks Windows options Options Windows options Different settings in Windows can also slow down your system as these settings affect everything you do. The following items in Windows Vista® and Windows 7 are effects that enhance the way things are shown on the screen. Each one takes additional graphics calculations that siphon resources away from SolidWorks. Aero, one clear indicator that Aero consumes resources is that in most laptop power management schemes, Aero is turned off when running on a battery. ClearType, is software technology that improves the readability of text on LCD screens. Windows Search, disable this option if you rarely do searches. Menu and Cursor Effects, windows have many effects that are used only to make the information on the screen look better but do not enhance performance. These include items such as pointer shadow, pointer trails, and cascading menus. Performance Options Choose the option Adjust for best performance rather than Adjust for best appearance or Let Windows choose.... While there are exceptions, the general rule is that if it is making the display loo better, it is taking resources that could be better used on performance. System Maintenance Proper system maintenance can help your hardware run better by allowing it to find files easier. Defragment the hard drive(s) often. Loading files is harder for the computer when the file data is not stored in contiguous sectors. Clearing Temp and Backup Files, temp files can build up and take away storage space and make it difficult for running programs to save their temporary data if there are a large number of unused temp files. Uninstalling Applications, remove unused applications from your computer, particularly if they are programs that load on startup and stay active in the background. They are just using resources unnecessarily. Windows Registry, as not all programs uninstall well and may leave registry entries, it is a good idea to Clean the registry periodically. There are several third-party or after-market registry cleaners available. Service Packs provide updates to reported issues. These could be fixes to problems or refinements to make things run better. Some people load service packs as soon as they are available and others wait until the next service pack after the one they are loading has been released. With the complexity of the software, there is always a possibility of a bug being in a service pack; however, you should look at the release notes to see what has been fixed in each service pack. You will generally be much better off installing a service pack that fixes a problem affecting your day-to-day problems than maintaining an old service pack that is slowing you down. Running Other Programs CAD is a computer-intensive endeavour if speed is a problem, the computer should not be using its resources for other tasks such as playing music, or editing pictures. Dedicate the computer to the CAD task and shut down the other applications and processes that are running which cause interference and take away RAM, IO, and processing speed. Virus Protection In today’s world, some form of virus protection is required to protect our investment. One option is, of course, not to connect to the Internet in any way. While this may reduce the need for virus protection, you also have to consider the issue of file transfer and collaboration. What happens if you get a file from a vendor that is infected? Without some form of virus protection, you can run into a very costly problem with loss of data and the need to reformat one or more computers. Considering the cost of these consequences in time and money, virus protection is inexpensive. With large assemblies, you have to be careful as to how virus protection is set to run as different options can cause significant slowdowns in your system. There are different methods used to scan your computer depending on which virus protection program you use. Generally, these methods can be classified in three ways, Scheduled scans, as the name implies, scans are scheduled to take place at certain times and dates. Make sure that this is set for nonworking times such as the middle of the night or on weekends. On-demand scans, in this method, you manually initiate the scan. You can usually select which drives and types of files are to be scanned. Real-time scans can be used to check files as they are used by the computer. This can be a great benefit to protect your computer but can also significantly slow down your work when there are a large number of files in use. You will have to make a judgment call based on your working environment and the level of risk you face as to how much checking you want to have. Generally, you can exempt SolidWorks files from the real-time scans, which will allow better performance. Have the system scanned regularly. A computer with a virus can ruin more than your day. Lost or corrupted data can be expensive, and sending a file with a virus to a customer can result in the loss of future business. Solidworks Rx Options SolidWorks Rx is a tool located inside of SolidWorks that can be used for several tasks that can help SolidWorks run faster. To improve performance, the Diagnostics and System Maintenance tabs are the most important. Diagnostics Selecting the Diagnostics tab will cause SolidWorks Rx to examine the system and SolidWorks settings. The results will highlight things that should be fixed. System Maintenance The System Maintenance tab provides one place to run several maintenance tasks Simultaneously. This can be used to clean out temporary files from several locations as well as run Windows checkdisk and Defragmenter on multiple hard drives. Once tasks are selected, you can choose to run the maintenance immediately, at a selected time, or on a regular schedule. Further refinements can be made through the Windows Task Scheduler. Solidworks Saving Settings Options Saving Settings We examined various SolidWorks settings for increased performance, as these settings do not need any maintenance once it’s set, but still, have them saved in backup just in case any intentional or unintentional changes are made. System Options, are saved as registry files by using the Copy Settings Wizard. The Copy Settings Wizard can be used to both save settings and restore settings. With it, you can save system options along with keyboard shortcuts, menus customization, and toolbar layout. Where to find, Start, All Programs, SolidWorks Tools, Copy Settings Wizard Document Properties Document properties are stored with template files. As mentioned earlier, one should create a good set of templates with all the settings required for the different tasks or customers you have. Templates can also contain geometry (a start part), reference geometry, custom properties, and much more. A little time creating templates can save a lot of time by eliminating repetitive actions later. #Solidworks

  • Solidworks Part Modeling Technique

    Parts Good efficient assemblies start with good efficient parts. As parts are core elements of large assemblies, they need to be model sensibly and efficiently. Part design always has to start with a plan as to how to model it efficiently, with properly placed reference geometry. One key element when modeling parts is to establish the design intent. Once this is done, you can plan part construction by considering these elements. Origin – Where should the origin be? – How does the origin affect the mating of the parts in the assembly? Symmetry – Is there symmetry? – If so, how many planes of symmetry? Generally, the origin is on all the planes of symmetry. or even less of the part and then either. Using symmetry, you can model half or quarter or even less of the part and then either mirror or pattern the rest. mirror or pattern the rest. Features – Decide which elements should get their own features in the FeatureManager design tree. Will any features need in-context relationships? Configurations – Configurations can be used to create both the maximum (full detail) and minimum (only the detail needed to mate the part into the assembly) conditions of the part. Patterns – Patterns can reduce the amount of work to create the part and can also be used at the assembly level to automatically add fasteners. Views – Which view of the model Will be the Front View when detailing? – Will detailing require special views? Mating requirements – How will this part be mated in the assembly? Properties – What properties need to be attached to to the part for accurate assembly weights, BOMs, part callouts and the like? Templates – Right template can save time by having repetitive information and proper settings already entered. Consider creating specific templates for different customers. Document settings – Document settings will control the speed and ease of the design process. What image quality and display settings will allow us to see the design easily without slowing us down? Features Plan ahead before modeling to reduce the number of features. Combine features sensibly because you should also keep in mind the need to change the model in the future. Put the fillets and chamfers at the end and combine them into the minimum number of features consistent with the need to make later changes. By placing these features at the end of the FeatureManager design tree you get two benefits. First, the model rebuilds faster when we are adding features before the fillets and chamfers. Second, you can easily group the fillets and chamfers into folders to suppress/unsuppress them quickly. Use the Feature Statistics tool to determine which features are slowing the rebuild time to see if they can be suppressed while working on other parts of the model. Feature Freeze Feature Freeze can be used to keep some or all features of a part from rebuilding. This can significantly reduce the rebuild time for complex parts. Setting the Feature Freeze bar at the bottom of the FeatureManager design tree will keep all features from rebuilding and make configuration changes much faster. Feature Statistics / Performance Evaluation The Performance Evaluation / Feature Statistics tool can be invaluable for locating features that are taking a long time to rebuild. You can use this tool to help determine which features should be suppressed in a simplified configuration. Mate References For parts that are only inserted into an assembly once, creating mates manually is a reasonable method to place the part. When parts are used many times, however, you can save significant time by establishing mate references on the reusable parts. Patterns Patterns can save time when used correctly, or they can slow a model rebuild time if not. The advantage of feature patterns is that they can be used as a source for other patterns at the  assembly level (feature—driven patterns). Patterns can also be used as a source to add fasteners to assembly using Smart Fasteners. This has the advantage of faster rebuild times as pattern controls the position of the fasteners instead of mates. Avoid patterning on top of other patterns. Instead, make a single pattern with all the features. Move big patterns as far down the FeatureManager design tree as possible. This allows the other features to be built first and also allows the pattern to be suppressed without worrying about parent/child relationships. Remodeling Parts Parts sometimes have inefficiencies caused by adding and deleting features, or features added to correct an earlier error while searching for the correct final form. At some point, these inefficiencies should be removed and the part recreated from scratch. It is usually difficult to make the decision to rebuild a part from scratch when you are under a tight deadline, but you need to weigh the cost in both time and money of remodeling the part against potential for problems that may be caused by the model. It certainly takes a finite amount of time to remodel the part, but usually not as long as you think because you know exactly what the final model will look like. With an inefficient model, a simple change could cause the model to fail to rebuild. While a single inefficient part in a large assembly may not have a huge effect on rebuild time, rebuild times will be affected by many parts that are inefficient. The other consideration is whether this is a single, one-time-use part, or it will be used in this and future designs. You may consider not recreating a one-time-use part, but reusable parts should be created efficiently. Symmetry Taking advantage of symmetry when creating a part can reduce the number and complexity of mates that need to be added at the assembly level. This is particularly true when parts need to be centred on each other. Using symmetry can also speed the rebuild time for individual parts when you mirror bodies. When mirroring bodies, surfaces are patterned instead of having to rebuild the geometry for each feature. Templates Having a proper set of templates can save time in all phases of modeling. The benefits of good templates include: Document properties are setHaving the document properties set in the template allows you to move ahead to modeling without having to make adjustments to the settings. Visual and physical properties are setVisual properties such as the model and background appearance can be set to eliminate the need to change it later. The proper and consistent material can already be added to the part before the first geometry is created. Custom properties are setMany items can be prefilled such as company name, address, the person creating the file, and other information established to capture model properties (material, weight, etc.). Part Origins Part origins are normally located based on the geometry of the part and its symmetry. There are two general exceptions: first is to locate the origin so that the part lines up in a layout grid at the correct position, without mates; second is when the part is created in-context and the origin is located by projecting the assembly origin onto the Front plane of the new part. Having the origin based on the geometry of the part is the most common method and found in most best practices documents. Creating the geometry of the part off the origin for alignment purposes is generally not done in smaller assemblies or with parts that may go into different assemblies, but can be useful in a larger assembly as the part is inserted at the assembly origin and fixed. This approach reduces the number of top level mates. In many cases, if you properly locate features of the part on the origin, your mating planes already exist. For example, by placing the absolute center of a sketch for a Wide Flange Beam on the origin, then extruding from midplane, you get a Top plane in the middle of the beam, a Right plane in the middle, and a Front plane in the middle without having to do any extra work. When a part is created in the assembly, the origin could be at some location well away from the part geometry. This is generally unacceptable and can be fixed, or as we will see later, the in-context relationships can be created differently to avoid the origin being off the part. Part Configurations Part configurations can have an effect on the speed and performance of large assemblies. There are productivity gains to be realized using configurations and consequently having fewer files to manage, but they can increase the file size of parts and assemblies. You have to decide if the benefits of using configurations outweigh the associated file size issues for their particular application and decide what will be best for them. Configurations allow you to control many variables within a part or an assembly in a fast and easy manner. The use of design tables takes this further still. However, when a configuration is activated, the data for that configuration is generated and stored in the file (e.g., preview, lightweight data, and body information). This is done to avoid performance problems in complex parts. There would be delays if configuration data had to be built every time a configuration is accessed. Because the data is stored the file size will grow as more configurations are activated. If the files are being opened across a network or copied across a network to a local working folder, the large file sizes will slow performance as more data will have to be copied across the network. When a part is used in an assembly, only the information of the configurations of the part used in the assembly is loaded into memory. For example, if a part with 200 configurations, all of which had been activated in the part, were used in the assembly, the data for that part’s active configuration would be loaded into memory. If a second instance of the part were inserted into the assembly using a different configuration, the data for the second configuration would also be loaded into memory. The data for the remaining 198 configurations would not be loaded into memory. If a new file is created using File, Save As, only the data for the active configuration is retained, which may reduce the file size significantly. One way to increase assembly performance is by using simplified configurations that can be selected when opening the assembly. Simplified Configurations Simplified configurations are used to reduce the amount of data that must be loaded into RAM when the assembly is opened. This configuration should be created so that only the key information about the part is unsuppressed. What information is important? Mating surfaces All surfaces will be needed to mate the part into the assembly. This requires some planning to make sure the correct surfaces are included. Interference surfaces All surfaces that show the volume of the part and its boundaries. This information is needed to make sure this part does not interfere with the surrounding parts. What information is not important? Cosmetic features Cosmetic features such as fillets, chamfers, engraving should not be included in a simplified configuration. Detail features Small details of the part design are not necessary for the assembly and cause additional problems with graphics performance as they require many small triangles to be formed to display the shaded surface. This is analogous to creating a mesh in FEA. Naming Simplified Configurations One very effective way to use simplified configurations is to have an assembly configuration that opens all components in their simplified configuration. This assembly configuration is easy to create when opening an assembly by using an Advanced option because you can select the name of the configuration you wish to open for each component if it exists. The important thing is that you can select only one configuration name. So you need a company standard for each engineer to create a simplified configuration with the same name. Also remember that capitalization is considered, so Simple and simple are two different configuration names. The Simplify Tool One difficulty in creating a simplified configuration is locating and selecting small features. The Simplify command allows the selection of features based on their size relative to the part. From the Results list, you can individually select features and then click Suppress, or select All and then Suppress to suppress the features found in the Results list. A derived configuration will be created with those features suppressed. Where to find it: Menu: Tools, Find/Modify, Simplify Tools toolbar: click Simplify Fasteners and Toolbox The toolbox can be set up to work two different ways: Master partsIn the master part setup, Toolbox retains a set of master parts. When you insert a fastener into an assembly. The toolbox will create a configuration of the master part based on the size you are using. The advantage of this is that the size of those part files increases as additional configurations are created. In a company environment, the Toolbox part files are normally kept on a network drive, which means that the files have to be opened across the network, slowing down performance. Copied parts In a copied part setup, new part files are created when you insert a fastener into an assembly. The advantage of this method, for large assemblies, is that these files can be stored with the assembly and have only a single configuration. While this method creates more files, the files can be stored locally and can be smaller because they only need to have a single configuration. Toolbox parts can have three different thread displays. Because fasteners are purchased parts, there is no need to show the threads unless you need them for display purposes. For performance gains use a Simplified thread display. If you need the threads to display for a rendering, choose Cosmetic to have a thread appearance applied to the surface. Level of Detail for Purchased Components When you use purchased components in your designs, you need models of these components to fit into your assembly. Depending on the source for the component model, there could be a wide range of detail provided. How much of this detail is necessary for you to work on your design? Generally no more than what was listed above for the simplified configuration. To speed the design at the assembly level, a lot of detail can be stripped from the model. Level of Detail Too much detail causes excessive rebuild times. Below are some suggestions on ways to remove detail. Do not model threads. Model only functional threads. There are considerable regeneration times associated with modeling the helical threads. If you need a visual representation of the threads, Toolbox has an option to show threads as a texture map. It takes more than five times the number of triangles to represent the surface of the bolt when you add helical threads. If you need to see visual threads, use the Cosmetic option in Toolbox. Avoid using text for features. Do not model text unless it is part of casting or will be machined into the part. SolidWorks uses TrueType fonts in Windows. Text can have hundreds of entities, sometimes per letter. You can evaluate the impact of modeled text by opening a part with extruded text and using the Performance Evaluation tool previously known as Feature Statistics to list rebuild the times. If the text is not to be machined into the part, such as labels that will be affixed to the part, consider using decals because they do not create additional geometry. Minimize unnecessary detail. Combine fillets of equal size or function. Avoid Lofts and Sweeps if you can create the geometry with an extrude or revolve feature. Lofts and sweeps take longer to generate. Do not model springs unless absolutely necessary. Like helical threads, sweeping along a helix creates a large file due to the complexity of the surface. Instead, use a cylinder that forms the bounding shape of the spring. This can be mated and used to detect interference while solving very quickly. If you need more of a visual representation, consider adding either a decal or a thread appearance. Fully define sketches. Leaving sketches under defined may be acceptable when you are still in the early part of the design process for a part. Before using that part in an assembly, you should have it fully defined to avoid rebuild errors and to avoid unintentional changes. Additional Consideration for Parts In addition to the above techniques for part construction, there are several other considerations for efficient parts. Level of Detail for Manufactured Parts What level of detail is required for manufactured parts? Generally, there is one required level of detail and several optional levels. These levels of detail are controlled through modeling and configurations. Full (Default) Configuration Any part that you are going to manufacture must contain all the information necessary to actually make it. All the detail may also be required if renderings of the part will be necessary for marketing purposes. Simplified (Assembly) Configuration To get the most out of simplified configurations, the company should establish a mandatory name to be used for this configuration. The reason to have a mandatory name is so that when you open an assembly, all components that have a simplified configuration can be opened in that configuration. Drawing Configuration In many parts, there are features that should be suppressed before creating a drawing. These usually feature such as fillets that create tangent edges. SpeedPak Configuration SpeedPak configurations offer a huge saving in computational and memory requirements. Consider making the creation of a SpeedPak configuration the general rule for all assemblies. Analysis Configuration If the part needs to be analyzed, the person doing the analysis will make this configuration since deciding which features to suppress involves more than simply suppressing small fillets. Common Tools When you build parts in the context of the assembly, sketching is the same as in the part mode with the added benefit that you can see and reference the geometry of the surrounding parts. You will use Convert Entities and Offset Entities as well as add dimensions to geometry. Alternatively, you can change the setting Do not create references external to the model in Tools, Options, External References, and the new feature or part will not be created with any external references. Converted geometry is simply duplicated in this case, with no constraints. No dimensions or relations to other components or assembly geometry can be added. Hole Series A Hole Series is a special kind of Hole Wizard hole that is created at the assembly level and automatically creates in-context holes in the referenced components. While these are very useful in the design process, remember that you are creating an in-context feature that must be solved at the assembly level. In-Context Modeling Parts can be created and built from within the assembly. These parts can also be inserted into the assembly as new parts and built using converted edges, offset edges and standard techniques. They are called Virtual or In-context parts. In-context modeling can be a great time-saver in the design phase of most projects. By using in-context features, you will be required to do much less work when changing dimensions of individual parts and features as the in-context relationships carry the changes through the in-context features in a predictable way. Generally accepted best practice is to remove in-context references before parts are released to manufacturing to avoid unintended changes from occurring; however, the point at which this occurs is not absolute. In some industries, in-context relationships may be left intact and locked if the customer is known to require changes after manufacturing has begun. When building parts in context, you can take advantage of other parts that exist. You can copy geometry, offset from it, add sketch relations to it, or simply measure to it. While there are many advantages to using in-context features in your models, they can cause slower performance when solving the model and can create confusion for people working on the model later in the process. Additionally, creating in-context parts in an assembly can cause the part origin to be someplace other than the most desirable location. Note: One of the things to consider before deciding to model a part in the context of an assembly is where that part will be used. In-context features and parts are best used for “one-of-a-kind” parts that will be used only in the assembly where they are modeled. Parts that will be used in more than one assembly should probably not be modeled in context. The reason for this is that the external references created by the in-context features are stored in and controlled by the assembly in which the references were established. If a virtual or in-context part is to be reused in other assemblies, it is possible, with some work, to make a copy of the part and remove all of the external references. The part can also be created by purposely borrowing geometry but with no external references created. In-Context Modeling and PerformanceHow do in-context features affect performance? With in-context features, the relationship between the current feature and the entity it is referencing is maintained at the assembly level. This is required because the relationships depend on the positions of the parts which are controlled by mates. In the assembly, we see these relationships as Update Holders. Therefore, in-context features create additional work when the assembly is solved. While one or two properly constructed in-context relationships may not make a noticeable difference in assembly rebuild speed, the more you have, the greater the slowdown could be. So, in addition to the other reasons for removing in-context relationships, we must consider the performance of the assembly. Creating ln-Context Features The method in which in-context parts are created as taught in the SolidWorks training classes is as follows: Adding new parts into an assembly When you create a new part in an assembly, the part is given a default name and you select a plane (or planar face). The name is used as the temporary part name while the selected plane orients the Front reference plane of the new part. An InPlace mate is added to the assembly to maintain the position of the new part. The location of the origin of this new part is determined by projecting the assembly origin onto the Front plane of the new part. Building parts in an assembly As the new part is created, the selected plane face becomes the active sketch and the part is in Edit Part mode. The part is created using standard methods and references to other geometry in the assembly. Creating in-context features When you reference geometry that is in another part while creating a feature, you are creating what is called an in-context feature. For example, referencing the edge of a shaft when making its mating hole in another part creates a relationship between the shaft and the hole. A change to the diameter of the shaft would cause a corresponding change to the diameter of the hole. InPlace Mates The InPlace mates created automatically for in-context parts are there to prevent movement of the part. This is because the in-context part is attached to the geometry of parts in the assembly through external references, references that cross between parts at the assembly level. Changing the location of the part can cause changes to the geometry that may not be desired. Replacing InPlace Mates You can remove InPlace mates using Delete, and remate the part using standard mate techniques. This technique gives you an option to leave a degree of freedom for movement. Generally, this works best if the face selected for the InPlace mate is perpendicular to the direction of motion, as this does not affect the part origin. Deleting InPlace Mates When you delete an InPlace mate, a warning message appears after the confirmation dialog. The base sketch of the part located by the InPlace mate contains references to other entities in the assembly. These references may update in unexpected ways after this mate is deleted because the part will no longer be positioned relative to the assembly. Would you like to remove these references now? (No geometry will be deleted.) Errors Always resolve rebuild and import errors as they happen. it is much easier to solve a rebuild problem when it happens because you know where in the process the problem occurred. If you continue to build a part that has errors, the errors will just compound and can take many times more effort to solve than if handled immediately. Similarly, import errors should be fixed before editing the part further. Failure to solve the import problem immediately is like building a house on a foundation with structural problems. Import Diagnostics Whenever you import a model, SolidWorks will ask you if you would like to run Import Diagnostics. Running the diagnostics at this point is preferable to waiting as you can never anticipate the problems that may be caused by geometry with errors. if you add any additional features to the imported part, Import Diagnostics will no longer be available because it only works on an unmodified imported body. Check Entity Another valuable tool is Check. Check can be run on the model at any time and used to locate both errors in the geometry and undesirable geometry, such as short edges, that can cause other geometry to fail. Where to find it: CommandManager: Evaluate>Check Menu: Tools, Check External References In-context parts and features create many external references which are used to create and maintain relations between parts at the assembly level. To break these references and keep the part intact, you must manually go through the in-context features and change the in-context references to local references. When they are working properly, external references are considered in-context. When they cannot work properly, they are considered out of context and cannot update properly. Out of Context In—context relationships are maintained through the assembly in the Update Holders 3. For the in-context feature to work correctly, the assembly must be open for the in-context feature to update. It is able to work properly and change through the propagation of changes only while the assembly is open. Putting a Part Back into Context To put an out-of-context part back into context, open the externally referenced document. There is an easy way to do this: right-click the out-of-context feature and click Edit In Context. Breaking and Locking External References The flow of changes can be stopped temporarily or permanently using the Lock/Unlock and Break options. These options essentially suppress the Update Holder so that it is not solved. This helps to speed up the assembly rebuild. If you want to reuse the in-context part in another assembly, or use it as the starting point for a similar design or apply motion, you should remove the external references. By copying and editing the in-context part, you can create a duplicate part that is not tied to the assembly. Once the in-context features are created, it is a good idea to lock the external references. If changes are made that affect the in-context features, the external references can be unlocked, the assembly rebuilt, and then the external references locked again. When the List External References dialog is active, there are options available to Lock All or Break All references. These options allow you to change the relationship between the in-context part and referenced files. Lock All Lock All is used to lock or freeze the references until they are unlocked at a later date using Unlock All These changes are reversible after the UK is clicked. Until the references are unlocked, changes will not propagate to the part. When Lock All is selected, SolidWorks displays a message: All external references of the model “Part Name” will be locked. You will not be able to add any new external references until you unlock the existing references. The FeatureManager design tree lists the locked references with “->*” symbols. Using Unlock All later will restore the “->” symbols. No additional external references can be created while the part is in the locked state. Break All Break All is used to break all references with the controlling files. Clicking the button launches a message that indicates the change is not reversible after OK is clicked. When Break All is selected, SolidWorks displays a message: All external references of the model “Part Name” will be broken. You will not be able to activate these references again. The FeatureManager design tree lists the broken references with “->x” symbols. Changes will no longer propagate to the part. Once the references are broken, they can be listed only by using the List Broken References check box in the List External References dialog. Break All does not remove the external references. It simply breaks them, and once broken, they can never be fixed. Because Break All is irreversible, you should use Lock All in almost all situations. Do not confuse the command List External References with File, Find References. In a part document, the command File, Find References only lists the name of externally referenced documents, if they exist. It does not provide feature, data, status, entity, or component information. Removing External References Options like Lock All are useful to interrupt the flow of changes to an in-context part, but the best way to stop the changes permanently is to use File, Save As with the Save As Copy option to copy the part and remove the references. Why Remove External References? When parts are built in-context they contain references. If mates are removed or in-context parts are used in other assemblies (out of context), unexpected changes could occur. Here are some reasons why you might remove external references. Component Movement – The In-Place mate prevents movement and although it can be removed, the features remain in-context. Re-use of Data – Component parts can generally be used in multiple assemblies. If a part contains in-context references, they must be removed prior to out-of-context use. Assembly Performance – Because the Update Holders are at the top level of the assembly, they must be resolved when the assembly is rebuilt. If they are not removed, they should be locked until they need to be updated. #Solidworks

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