Enabling Manufacturers to Implement 3D-only Design Intent Communications

Acrobat 3D’s capabilities are being leveraged within our customers’ 3D-based workflows in the design, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, technical publications and servicing phases of the product lifecycle.  3D-only processes are often called 3D Model Based Definition, or 3DMBD.   Today most products are designed in 3D but the format of choice for sending design intent information to a supplier remains the 2D drawing in many cases.  Today I will address an important aspect of the transformation to 3DMBD… propagation of 3D across the supply chain with the adoption of PDF as a standard for collaboration.

Acrobat 3D’s capabilities are being leveraged within our customers’ 3D-based workflows in the design, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, technical publications and servicing phases of the product lifecycle.  3D-only processes are often called 3D Model Based Definition, or 3DMBD.   Today most products are designed in 3D but the format of choice for sending design intent information to a supplier remains the 2D drawing in many cases.  Today I will address an important aspect of the transformation to 3DMBD… propagation of 3D across the supply chain with the adoption of PDF as a standard for collaboration.

 

Many leading manufacturers recognize 2D drawing use for supply-chain communications as a severe process bottleneck and are focusing on moving to 3D-only communications.  Major automotive and aerospace manufacturers have concentrated on sharing of native CAD files with suppliers, but are looking at alternative solutions.  Too often the multi-CAD nature of the supply-chain leads error-prone CAD-to-CAD translation or the high cost of driving adoption of a single CAD format deeply into the supply chain.  Tier-one suppliers in particular, have a significant challenge to meet their customers’ mandates while simultaneously managing their own supply chain. Ultimately, the introduction of standards for data sharing and collaboration will reduce cost to the supply chain, and ultimately to the OEMs.  I will deal more in future articles with the benefits of open standards and specifically on converting virtually any CAD format to a precise model inside of a 3D PDF and then being able to export that data to a STEP, IGES or Parasolid model.  Today, I want to focus on PMI.

 

Discussions with these leading manufacturers indicates that the critical requirement for adoption of a document format and associated authoring tool for 3D-only communications is the ability to extract all the manufacturing information embedded in a 3D model during the engineering phase.

 

The different CAD systems use different terms for the design intent information.  The terms “Functional Tolerance and Annotation” (FT&A), “Geometric Dimension and Tolerance” (GD&T) and “Product Manufacturing Information” (PMI) are used by the various manufacturers. These terms all refer to the same information and the term PMI will be used going forward to refer to this design intent information. 

 

There is an existing ISO-ANSI specification that details a systematic approach for defining PMI information and embedding it inside of a 3D model – ASME Y14.5M-1994. The basic concept centers around the defining multiple views of a 3D CAD model and the inserting 3D text associated with a specific part of the product geometry that denotes dimension and tolerance information. The PMI information includes feature dimension and tolerance specifications that a manufacture uses to identify critical features, assess costs when bidding, develop manufacturing and inspection planning documents and to validate conformance of parts during the fabrication process. This manufacturing specific information is typically very difficult to extract from the CAD systems and their proprietary formats and many PLM vendors are not keen on enabling easy access via APIs as this undermines their ability to leverage their format as a tool to sell the post-CAD downstream applications to their CAD customers.

 

Acrobat 3D 8.0 includes the ability to extract PMI information from the main high-end CAD systems along with any defined model-view associations. This support for PMI coupled with the advanced 3D interrogation tools enables manufacturers to move to a 3D-only communication workflow. Reader enablement of the 3D interrogation tools combined with the ability to secure the PDF with Rights Management ES adds even more weigh to this value proposition.

The figure below shows a sample 3D part with PMI information (the 3D lines and text pointing to the 3D geometry).

 

Example of 3D part with FTA

So, support for PMI data extraction is an important consideration when deciding who to streamline operations with suppliers and other manufacturing partners.  Customer feedback has been very positive, and more importantly, they are able to streamline operations and save money.