Mind the Gap

By Michael

Whereas virtual designs are 100% perfect – as designed, with perfect circles, perfect corners and razor-sharp edges – the real world is not.

Any manufactured part which is assembled from pieces and which consists of various materials, comes under the influence of Mr. Thermodynamics and his physical gang members Mr. Temperature and Ms. Pressure. With all those parameters and forces applied during the fabrication process the resulting product is at best close, but never fully identical with the originally designed dimensions.

Important to note: with every percentage we want to minimize these dimensional deviations, represented by gaps and misalignment in assemblies, we increase manufacturing cost due to additional investment in equipment, better materials or just more effort to optimize the machinery.

Depending on the product this will be necessary and justified: if we manufacture a submarine boat we need to take care to have the outer skin absolutely water-tight under all operating conditions and with a safety margin. Here very little deviation is allowed in order to not jeopardize security. No compromises. Building a submarine or alike is complex and expensive.


For less demanding situations the control of dimensions is less critical.

A bicycle for instance needs to meet a set of functional specifications, i.e. it needs to be durable and parts should move without friction. However the physical constraints on the product in operation are less severe than in the submarine case, which means that certain dimensional deviations of assembled parts can be accepted. This results in manufacturing process which is less demanding.

Another view is on aesthetics: we want a car to look good in every aspect. The gap between the hood and the chassis for example needs to be straight, close (but not too close) and overall needs to suite the expert’s eye. Intuitive buying decisions may depend on this feature. I am not joking. So this is important too!

YouTube Preview Image

Courtesy of DCS Inc.

I guess I sufficiently hit on this point: when we manufacture a virtual model we have to expect dimensional deviations. We therefore need to understand, control and design for those deviations – preferentially before it is found out from the first product which comes off the assembly line.


This was the introduction to present the domain of competence of DCS Inc. or Dimensional Control Systems Inc., a 125+ employees company headquartered in Troy, Michigan USA, with local representations worldwide. DCS is also a Gold software partner of Dassault Systèmes and they have captured their knowhow of dimensional engineering and process capabilities into a suite of tolerance analysis software applications (3DCS CAA V5 Based) which helps designers and engineers to anticipate real life conditions put on ideal designs. Good news is: 3DCS software is fully integrated in the DS 3D PLM solution and respectively the brands CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA and SIMULIA.

What DCS does is clearly heavy duty engineering simulation with a lot of differential equations involved. Don’t try this alone at home. If you are a manufacturer who needs to control dimensional tolerances as a function of production cost, a good advice is to let DCS assist you.

One prominent project where DCS is already part of the competence team is ITER, the nuclear fusion reactor to be built in Cadarache in the South of France. ITER is a highly challenging endeavor with a long list of technical unknowns. With the objective to master fusion technology as an unlimited source of energy for man. DCS’ job is to watch over the design of the reactor vessel built to sustain the physics involved, boost the understanding of dimension tolerancing and gain a certain level of trust for predicting results. (For more general information about ITER, and some 3D virtual fly throughs, go here.)

Ladies and gentlemen, mind the gap.

To get in touch with DCS, find their information file here or directly on the PLM MarketPlace where 3DCS products are referenced. John Sienskowski is your contact to call for help.

Soon more from the beautiful world of applied engineering.


P.S. any questions or ideas for future posts in this series – let me know

The 3DVIA Mobile App is Finally Here!

By Cliff

I am an iPhone App junkie!

I play iPhone Apps whenever and wherever I can. My wife has actually said to me, “Put down the iPhone Cliff, and talk to me”. I tried suggesting that I just text her instead. She didn’t think that was funny.

I know there are plenty of iPhone junkies out there like me, downloading every FREE game, puzzle or gadget you can. And if you like the app, you purchase the full version. However, I must admit, that most apps I have paid $.99 or $1.99 for, I quit playing after 2 weeks, maybe a month. The one I am still enjoying is the 3DVIA Mobile App (I was on the BETA team for the last couple of months). I’m sure you are thinking that I am supposed to say that, but it really is true.

The reason I enjoy the app, is not that I can view all of my models, or the thousands of 3DVIA.com public models on my iPhone…It’s the collage feature, which is built into the App. This is fun!

The Collage function allows you to take a photo with your iPhone, then download any 3D model from 3DVIA.com, and add it into the picture, in true perspective. How cool is that!?! You can add 3D models of people into a picture of real people, you can add 3D models of furniture into rooms, you can add cars into your driveway. All this in the palm of you hand, wherever you are. The possibilities are endless, but I did create a video of some great uses for the app here on 3DVIA.tv.

All the details on the new 3DVIA Mobile App, including where to download are all on the 3DVIA Mobile page:  www.3dvia.com/mobile.

In fact, 3DVIA is opening a contest asking you to create any image with our favorite dinosaur Tex Rex, with the chance to win an Amazon Kindle™. All the details on the contest are found here.

Oh, and I must tell you the App is FREE now, so download it today, as the App will list for $1.99 soon.

Also, I need to say a special thanks to Gérald Guyomard, and his team for development of the 3DVIA Mobile App – Excellent Work! You not only gave me my favorite App, but also allowed me to play my iPhone at work – Sweet!


Eco-Documentation for a Healthier Planet

By Robert

DS sustainabilityAs the vision of ‘3D for All’ empowers stakeholders across the organization to share, collaborate, and create content off of a single-version of the truth, another key advantage surfaces. While it is easy for any one individual to make choices about whether to consume information electronically or to ‘print a hard copy’ for review, the processes built into many organizational business models can force individuals, groups or entire businesses to consume massive amounts of tangible (and non-eco-friendly) resources in the form of printed materials.

I definitely see that there are clear benefits in the approach when we go from manual printed documentation to interactive documentation directly linked to 3D and digital Intellectual Property (IP) for reducing errors, eliminating cycle-time, and simplifying processes. The ability to transform 200 pages of manufacturing assembly instructions into a brief, step-by-step interactive 3D experience has value for both the content creators as well as the consumers of the information.

The same approach and efficiencies for Manufacturing are available to all stakeholder organizations in the company whether they be Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Training or any other target audience.

What comes along as an additional benefit in this approach is the elimination of a commonly taken for granted resource – paper.

Like electricity, water or any other consumable resource, paper has a cost and an impact. For example, consider that the typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. If we extrapolate this to a 1,000 person workforce, we are using 10 million sheets of paper.

The conversion of raw trees to pulp to packaged paper has an impact on the environment. Some estimates show that making one ton of paper requires four trees and emits more than 1.5 tons of CO2e, in addition to consuming other resources. This is not including the shipping, storage and other environmental side-effects. Real life mirrors the TV show “The Office” where a paper company is the central theme for not only a lot of laughs, but also a lot of raw paper sales.

3DVIA ComposerA real-life example of this is NACCO Materials Handling Group, Inc. (NMHG), who uses 3DVIA Composer every day to give their non-technical users direct access to 3D CAD data to develop effective, interactive communications and documentation. Besides reducing errors, eliminating cycle-time, and simplifying processes, NACCO may also be helping us heal the planet – one-step at a time.

Every little bit helps when it comes to the environment, and Eco-Documentation may be one way that can contribute.

Do you agree that this is the path to a healthier planet?

High Tech companies (or other) looking to understand the value that 3DVIA Composer can offer should attend an upcoming e-seminar on Sept 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT. Click here to register today!



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