Brad and others,
There are some really good thoughts here. Let me add a few.
Concept Modeling is indeed very important. We have an Actua and run it
quite extensively. It ran about 380 hours last month. The approach we
have taken with our first machine is to centrally locate it in our model
shop rather than place in with the engineers. Better utilization and
doesn't waste engineers time with the cleanup of parts. We have since
place another machine in a facility with engineers. I am anxious to
find the tradeoffs. At both facilities, ONE PERSON is in charge of
inserting jobs into the machine. We do not let everyone access it at
The modelers simply are not near fast enough. I bet Z Corp will email
me within the hour to explain how much faster than the Actua they are.
Well, they aren't fast enough either. Not even close for concept
modeling to be fully accepted. A full envelope part really needs to
take less than an hour. The conventional wisdom has been to sacrifice
surface finish and accuracy for speed. Guess what. With my customers
that won't work. They want the surface finish like the upfacing
surfaces on the Actua. That is the expectation.
Another topic that is near and dear to our resident artist's heart:
COLOR!!!! One of my customers was asking about that the other day.
MANUFACTURERS, LISTEN UP! This customer was in stress analysis. They
are always outputting really colorful pictures showing what the stresses
are at any given cross section. To be able to look at a physical model
of the part and see all of the stresses at one time would be a MAJOR
All in all, concept modeling is a great benefit to us. My internal
customers are understanding the benefits of having the physical models.
But to Brad's point that the physical models are coming really late in
the process, it is still happening even with concept modeling. Until
the time frame is reduced to a similar timeframe as getting a plot, full
benefit will not be realized..................
Chad L Buchanan
Supervisor - Rapid Prototyping and Model Shop
Cummins Engine Co.
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