What New Design Features Could Future CAD Software Releases Offer?
For the past decade, the use of software wizards or “Assistants” has become familiar to consumer-oriented users of operating systems such as Windows, Mac-OS, and versions of UNIXor Linux. The purpose of a software wizard is to use a series of well-defined simple steps to guide the non-technical user of an operating system through complex software tasks or procedures.
The idea of software wizards is very sensible, and even technically trained computer scientists and IT personnel use software wizards. Some wizards use stored procedures extensively for accessing and manipulating database information. Medical practice uses standardized procedures for surgery, diagnosis and for therapeutic practices. The military uses procedures for communication and for tactical operations.
The purpose of this article is to envision the increased use of procedures or “design wizards” in future CAD software releases, and to imagine what new features could be provided in design wizards.
May useful design routines have been standardized for use by CAD engineers, but these design routines are proprietary. Because industrial secrets are difficult to preserve, it does not take long before proprietary design procedures become declassified and commonplace.
What Types of Design Wizards are Likely in Future CAD Software Releases?
Design procedures address many important issues such as (a) functionality and reliability, (b) safety, (c) established regulations, and (d) cost. Therefore, useful design wizards will probably be oriented toward addressing these design issues. This article envisions design wizards in future CAD software releases to provide the following capabilities:
- Address all regulatory requirements and constraints,
- Help in the selection of materials,
- Address loadings and operational environments,
- Address failure modes and reliability,
- Incorporate testing and prototyping.
A CAD Design Wizard Could Address Regulatory Requirements and Constraints
Typically, when a design for a part or a system has been completed, the requirement to satisfy regulatory requirements and constraints is addressed during design reviews. It is likely that future CAD software releases will access regulatory requirements and design constraints as part of a design checklist.
For example, a wizard will ask enough questions to ensure that the design for an automobile braking system meets all safety and reliability standards, and that appropriate safety factors are used.
Although the wizard cannot do as thorough a job as a design review team, the wizard will ensure that regulatory requirements are met, so that design rework and changes are minimized.
A CAD Design Wizard Could Help in the Selection of Materials
The selection of a material for a specific application is a lengthy and involved process, because it is not easy to select one specific material without going through a process of evaluation. The evaluation process includes (a) cost, (b) advantages and disadvantages, (c) service requirements, (d) fabrication requirements, and other considerations.
For example, steel tubular joints called risers had been used for many decades during offshore oil drilling and production operations. The main disadvantages for using steel risers are cost, weight, the need to provide buoyancy and to fight corrosion. Because of advances in developing high-pressure composites risers, steel risers are being replaced with risers manufactured with carbon fibers and epoxy resin, and with one half the weights of steel risers.
A CAD Design Wizard Could Address Loadings and Operational Environments
The design of a load bearing part such as a bracket goes through several design iterations. The design concept is implemented, followed by structural analysis which indicates design changes which need to be made. The cycle continues until all design requirements are satisfied.
Some of the design requirements which are addressed during the iterations include:
- Ability to withstand structural loading. Safety factors are used in order to place greater emphasis on safety rather than cost.
- Fatigue failure modes are identified and avoided especially when the designed part could experience cyclic loading from winds, hurricanes, ocean waves and currents, and earthquakes.
- Degradation of load-carrying capability due to corrosion and crack growth are identified and considered.
A future CAD design wizard could act as a design manager which automatically invokes all these necessary design steps and iterations.
A CAD Design Wizard Could Address Failure Modes and Reliability
An essential part of the design process involves the review of the performance of all components and parts which comprise a subsystem or the whole system. While individual parts and components may pass all design tests, it is another matter to guarantee that all parts work together in reliable fashion.
The systematic technique of FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) is an ideal candidate for implementation as a CAD wizard. Sometimes, Criticality analysis is incorporated into FMEA, so That it is referred to as FMECA.
FMEA makes it possible to identify potential failure modes based on experience with similar products and processes. Furthermore, the effects of a failure mode are assessed in order to determine whether safety factors are adequate, and whether redundancy may be required for critical components. The severity of a failure mode occurring is usually modeled as an RPN (Risk Priority Number).
Because FME(C)A is a well-established discipline, it should be easy to implement as a CAD wizard.
A CAD design Wizard Could Incorporate Testing and Prototyping
Before hard tooling, an essential step in the design cycle is prototyping. Prototyping could make the difference between launching a successful product instead of undergoing product recalls, suffering loss of reputation, and losing footprint in the marketplace.
Before 3D printing (AP technology) became available, prototyping and testing was an expensive and lengthy procedure. However, 3D printing has become an integrated part of CAD technology, so it makes sense that future CAD design wizards could incorporate prototyping with 3D printers into the design process.
Some of the features outlined for CAD wizards may already exist as proprietary CAD tools for individual CAD organizations. Because industrial secrets do not last long, it should not be surprising if some of these features appear in future CAD software releases. The benefits that CAD organizations will gain will be significant, such as reduced design errors, improved reliability and safety, and reduced time to market.