ARTICLES RELATING TO CAD/CAM
Article 4: Seamlessly Integrated CAD/CAM performs design-prototype-production sequence at Olympic Pace
By utilising their in house design, prototype and production facility Innova Design and Build Ltd was able to create a new enclosure for a sailing boat tracking device, in time for its debut at an Olympic test event. The unit was required to transmit real-time positioning information direct to a website or control centre, enabling viewers, event organisers, sponsors and competitors to gain more out of international sailing events. The brief was simple. “I need a new enclosure for my electronics and I need to design, verify and manufacture 30 off units within 2 weeks” The unit also had to be waterproof, lightweight, sleek and unobtrusive.
As the customer had arrived with the relevant electronic components he was able to sit down with the design engineer that afternoon and design the box using SolidWorks. Within 3 hours all of the electronics had been modelled and assembled into a stylish and neat new two piece custom enclosure. Knowing that the unit would be CNC machined using 3D machining techniques the designer could confidently add a smooth and sculpted exterior shape. The design was then emailed using edrawings to the electronics engineer for approval.
Once approved the parts were then CNC machined from PVC on site with the tool paths being created directly form the design CAD files using CAMworks – one of the integrated CAM systems for SolidWorks. The prototype enclosure was then assembled and tested. The feedback from this was then re worked through the CAD files and as the same CAD data was used for the CAM machining the changes to the design automatically updated the CNC programme for the machining of the production units.
The customer was delighted with the process as prior to contacting Innova he had not realised that the CNC machining option was open to him and had grown frustrated by ugly and clumsy off the shelf enclosures. As he couldn’t commit to a large production run he knew that the set-up and tooling cost of the moulding process was prohibitive but Innova and their seamless facility gave him the enclosure he desired within budget and in time for the big event.
Mark Richards, MD of Traxu said, “The custom solution for our product has proven to be surprisingly affordable and the whole process surpassed our expectations”
This article was published in the August 2009 edition of TCT Magazine.