Trends@Hannover Messe 2017
In the shadow of Megatrend’s digitalization and industry 4.0, the next generation of product design and development was presented at this year’s Hannover Messe. Although the terms “generative production methods” and “design” are not new, 3-D printers have already been the focus of many trade fairs over the last few years. However, the size and scope of the latest solutions are incomparably more powerful than the previous conceptions of 3-D printers.
In short: The manner of product development. Many companies use CAD software as a digital drawing board. Product design so far has been in the minds of the designers – genuine innovations depend primarily on the creativity and imagination of the colleague before the computer – the computer only supports the design by visualization and linking of components and groups. The product requirements often occur in Word or Excel lists, but a link to the virtual model usually does not exist. With increasing complexity, long-standing processes quickly reach their limits with this approach – the product can only be optimized within narrow limits.
This is where the lever of Generative Design starts. The development of the product is carried out by means of a defined set of rules based on defined requirements. The rules usually consist of algorithms. The human effort is shifted from the development process to the modelling of the requirements network. The potential of this novel design method is enormous. Weight and strength optimization, as well as the networking of requirements with regard to construction, production and cost efficiency, can be significantly improved by Generative Design. The development of individual elements can be linked immediately in the overall context. Faults or product modifications can be corrected in the virtual process, i.e. already in the design phase. In this respect, Generative Design correlates with the innovative development method of the Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), in that separate development processes such as, for example, topology optimization and virtual product assurance.
Generative Design has been known in other areas for a long time. As such, it is already used as a standard in communication design. In the industrial environment, its use has been limited by unsuitable production processes and IT structures. Additive Manufacturing or generative production processes can shift or even eliminate the existing barriers. The production is based on computer-internal data models made of shapeless material. To date, this type of prototyping has been used mostly for rapid prototyping or other 3-D printing applications, but not for serial production. The combination of Generative Design and Additive Manufacturing could play a significant role in shaping the factories and products of the future as a result of the progress of individualization of products in the consumer market, the goal of implementing batches with just 1 unit and achieving shorter product life cycles.
What Challenges must be Mastered?
Primarily the common challenges of digitization. Business processes and the organization must be transformed, IT structures must be developed, and employees must be empowered to use these new technologies profitably. In particular, the networking of different business sectors, the continuity and harmonization of the models and processes used, as well as the development of the necessary know-how, will be a problem for many companies in the next few years.
Software manufacturers go quite different ways in this context. Cloud and Web-based solutions are often used. As a result, the greatest challenge to innovation and data protection would be the access of third parties.
It is therefore the crux of these technologies that one encounters increasing product and requirement complexity with higher inter-disciplinarity. It will therefore be exciting to follow the development of the Digital Factory.
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