Actalent Assists Manufacturer with 3D Parametric Model Creation
Results at a Glance
The Client and Challenge
Our client manufactures electronic and technical components for automotive, commercial vehicle and other market segments. It needed to create prototypes and 3D concept models from 2D drawings to support its bid for a program with a major original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Because of the short timelines required, the customer engaged Actalent to complete this work.
However, the supplied drawings did not represent any geometry details other than basic outline dimensions. Many of the drawings were represented as one part, but separate top and bottom parts needed to be created. Additionally, the design had to be done based on the existing and frozen design frame and other environmental parts. No modifications would be accepted by the OEM on the environmental parts, leaving limited space to develop a design with the proper structural strength.
The Actalent Solution
Before creating 3D models that could be prototyped, Actalent needed to interpret integral features from the drawings to capture and calibrate the full dimensions of the parts. Therefore, the project was divided into two phases. For Phase 1, Actalent created outline models by measuring dimensions on the drawings at a high concept level. To do this, our teams used a 2D visual software to read and calibrate the dimensions for the various parts. The dimensions were measured using the software at a 1:1 scale. This process was very time consuming as every feature had to be measured for 3D dimensions. Regular and legible profiles were measured from the 2D drawings, and 3D CATIA models and assemblies were generated. We assigned Polypropylene material and density 946kg_m3 to calculate the weight and volume. Once we completed the outline models, we kicked off Phase 2 of the project by refining the designs for functional, manufacturing, tooling and packaging feasibility. Model dimensions were revised to match standard features. Actalent added further details to represent functional features on the 3D models per standard attachment features provided by the customer and the OEM.
3D models for some of the standard features were not available and needed to be created from the 2D drawings. Some of these features needed to be extracted from existing reference models; Actalent located them in the final part using 3D coordinates. All parts in Phase 2 were verified for tooling feasibility, which involved brainstorming and discussing multiple ideas at critical areas with the customer. Both rounds and ribs were incorporated as much possible to avoid weak sections and to apply tooling best practices.
All markups and additional inputs provided by the customer were verified as a model update. Connectors received were verified for correct size and part number, and proper connector orientation and fitment was established to resolve issues with die locking. Packaging information was not available, so it was assumed based on markups provided by the customer. Actalent worked collaboratively with the customer throughout the creation of these concept models. There were approximately 25 part files created for Phase 1; three detailed models were created in Phase 2.
Actalent provided the customer with complete design models and manufacturing drawings for its prototype build on time for its bid to the OEM. Overall, this project took about 200 hours to complete over approximately six weeks. To improve product quality, Actalent:
- Replaced the existing fastener design with screw mounts to minimize assembly lead time
- Designed the parts to be compatible for injection molding process clearing, die direction and other slider directions
- Ensured that the parts were designed to meet functionality requirements while considering the available environmental data
All of the conceptual drawings and design work that Actalent performed on this project was accepted by the customer and moved to the prototyping phase. Based on work quality, Actalent was selected to work on additional projects with the customer.