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Don’t drive away AR, it’s an acquaintance to CAD driven fabricators

Published: 7 August 2017 - Sarah Mead

Apart from people within the fabrication industry, the non-experts outside know and have an idea that augmented reality may strike any time in near future. Fabricators need to buck up and be ready with designs that complement the technology when the time comes, regardless of its current share in entire fabrication process.

Half the entire CAD driven fabricators have come to realize the importance of augmented reality in their business, but then there is the other half that still needs to be made aware. Driving away these new upcoming technologies shall prove to be costly, keeping in mind what wonders they create even today, in spite of being adopted only by half the entire fraternity.

Driving away AR isn’t an option for CAD driven fabricators

Fabricators have seen, though on a small scale, the ability that augmented reality has for experiencing possible scenarios prior to manufacturing. It is slowly becoming an indispensable step to plan the entire fabrication process, save time and costs, and defuse the challenges that might arise.

The best take away of augmented reality is its richness to collaborate media to CAD models of parts to be fabricated and transfigure to scene object. For instance, while assembling conveyors, CAD rendered models are used to show how each of them assembles and in a way that it is comprehended efficiently. Additional texts inclusion in augmented reality will further instruct the assembler on shop floor [such as instructing the assembler to undo a certain screw] to assemble or disassemble conveyor plates, bearings, shafts, end drives etc. Video clips with augmented reality may provide supplementary assistance where texts aren’t sufficient.   

AR is all about transforming to 3D CAD

All applications of augmented reality trace their roots back to digital model designs to be fabricated. It has become within our scope to imagine an assembler to carry his process through a guided process in his smartphone or a tablet.

Today, with advent in technology, tablets have been replaced by Head Mounted Devices [HMD] for ease, and to guide the assembler through videos using same digital designs. HMDs essentially put digital information to real world, with proven and remarkable results to early adopters.

Index AR Solutions demonstrates an excellent example of applying AR for inspection projects. During an inspection of a shipyard, engineers have to identify temporary steel structures that are eventually required to be removed. But with time, it is difficult to identify the temporary structures from the permanent ones, as they look the same. The traditional process would then require engineer to refer the drawings and identify the right place and the structure to be removed. But with AR, all that an engineer has to do is align the tablet camera with actual space and look at the tablet screen that displays the structure with different colors. A green for example denotes a temporary structure, purple as permanent and blue as the foundation. By simply scanning the space, engineer can quickly detect the exact steel structure that needs to be removed. The engineer was able to do the inspection task in 90 minutes which used to take 36 hours earlier.

Enriching the possibility of augmented reality to CAD

Augmented Reality essentially overlays 3D model of the component in real world, allowing the modeler to view and assemble the component with greater level of interactivity. Leading software such as SolidWorks and Autodesk’s AutoCAD both have made augmented reality available in professional version and plugins for the same respectively. Besides, recent collaboration of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Autodesk’s Fusion 360 has created a wave of revolution in how augmented reality is perceived by CAD engineers across the fabrication industry.

With these sequences of events, fabricators surely need to align themselves or upgrade their existing design data with the need of augmented reality. Migrating to a digital platform with a design support service provider and an expert in CAD modeling is the need of the hour. Adopting 3D CAD modeling henceforth for all the design needs makes these fabricators ready for new times in fabrication and changing tools. This is quite a justification in itself that augmented reality traces its roots back to CAD and is surely and acquaintance of CAD driven fabricators.  

About Author: Usha B. Trivedi is a Technical Writer at Hi-Tech CADD Services. She is a qualified mechanical engineer and contributes in-depth articles for industrial equipment, processing plants and fabrication sector. Her contributions are primarily focused on enabling engineering professionals, fabricators and plant owners to accelerate design and improve project efficiencies through BIM, 3D CAD and CAE tools.

Image Credit: TM Forum Inform

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