Last-mile workflow customization, a 3DEXPERIENCE like no other
Dassault Systèmes Executive Vice President Olivier Ribet discusses the role of AM in the sustainability and efficiency of digitally defined industrial workflows
Additive manufacturing technology offers flexibility for the entire value chain. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform for AM enables engineers to design and simulate highly optimized parts based on space allocation, loads, constraints, and manufacturing processes while also considering multi-material requirements (polymers, metals, and engineered materials) and specialized 3D printers produce these optimized parts. Aerospace companies ‘connect the dots’ by advancing the ability of teams across their enterprise to collaborate throughout the product development process to reap the full value that additive manufacturing has to offer. At the recent FIA2022 show in the UK, the aerospace industry showed that it is recuperating from recent supply chain challenges and driven by the ever more urgent need to implement more sustainable practices. Many companies have taken this as an opportunity to completely review their manufacturing workflows. 3dpbm spoke with Olivier Ribet, Executive Vice President EMEA of Dassault Systèmes, about what it means for the future of AM.
“In China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Spain, governments are starting to inspect the way it’s done, and regulation is going to change, which means that additive is going to become a requirement. “They are going to be forced to change both the process and the method. Therefore we look at AM at a process level to make sure that there is a connection between what you build and how you build it.”Olivier Ribet, Executive Vice President EMEA of Dassault Systèmes
“As a technology company, we have to make sure that we’re thinking about how to use additive not just today but one, two, five and even ten years from now,” Ribet begins, “and when we look at the way the industry evolves, we’re in a unique position because we serve eleven industries broken down into 69 segments. When we think about additive, we don’t think about additive for aerospace, transportation or mobility. We think about additive for all the 69 segments that we target.”
Sustainability driving change
In this light, sustainability has become a core value across the manufacturing industry. By its very nature, additive manufacturing is potentially more sustainable: layer-by-layer fabrication uses significantly less material than traditional formative or subtractive methods. Finally, additive manufacturing can be set up to produce anywhere. This simplifies the supplier network, lowers costs and reduces the environmental impact by lowering transportation emissions.
Mr. Ribet points out that this approach can address the needs of companies across a wide variety of different segments. In fact, one of the first investments that Dassault Systèmes made in the AM segment was Biomodex, a medical device and materials company that used additive technologies to recreate accurate brain aneurysm models. The 3D model is used by a brain surgeon to practice procedures for operating aneurysms before carrying out the actual operation.
“This is a perfect example of our strategy for AM: you start with creating the virtual 3D model by acquiring data from multiple devices. The model is reconstructed that in a perfectly precise manner, not at the millimeter level, not even at the nanometer, but almost at a molecular level. 3DEXPERIENCE takes this approach across multiple segments. It starts with a very precise 3D reconstruction and then looks at how to ideally interact with hardware and equipment, making sure that it can all be integrated properly in the production workflow.”
This is how Dassault Systèmes approaches many key customers in industrial manufacturing. “They develop their machine, they develop their molecules, powder, fluid or plastic for 3D printing, with our technology. If you don’t control extremely precisely the physical, functional and logical behavior of the material, you will always have a difference between the virtual representation and the final part. With 3D printing, you can take the same machine, and the same material, and it will behave differently because the geometry of the part is different or the temperature is different. So understanding the exact behavior of the material becomes extremely important.”
With all this in mind, aerospace leaders like GE, Rolls Royce, Airbus, Boeing and Safran work closely with Dassault Systèmes on defining new processes and new methods at the manufacturing level. A major transition is underway to improve the sustainability of flight. “They see this as a way of entirely rethinking some of the industrial processes that they have been implementing for the past 15-20 years. They are starting to blend more and more additive methods because subtractive is costly, painful, and not sustainable,” Mr. Ribet explains
If many companies were exploring additive only as a way of being more productive, more efficient and less costly, now they are now looking to implement it as part of a major sustainability agenda, where they need to prove that the way they produce is greener than it used to be.
“In China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Spain, governments are starting to inspect the way it’s done, and regulation is going to change,” Ribet points out, “which means that additive is going to become a requirement. “They are going to be forced to change both the process and the method. Therefore – he adds – we look at AM at a process level to make sure that there is a connection between what you build and how you build it.”
AM-driven last mile
Dassault Systèmes initially created the 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace as a seamless way to get parts made and collaborate with leading digital manufacturers worldwide. Companies used it to identify the best partner based on a project and part specifications. This includes maintaining traceability for part development and production, essential for certification. Companies can streamline the collaboration process by leveraging collaboration, geometric compliance, and industrial standards. However this is not always enough for those companies that are now looking to increasingly internalize their production lines. These companies need to be able to rapidly adapt their workflows to rapidly changing requirements.
This is a major, ongoing, change, now reflected in 3DEXPERIENCE and the related suite of cloud products from Dassault Systèmes. The CATIA software observes the way a product is designed and can point out which additive processes will be able to manufacture it in terms of geometry, part size or batch size. By redefining the entire process, productivity can be increased significantly. 3DEXPERIENCE optimizes the feedback loop between manufacturing and engineering and this kind of approach has enabled companies like Airbus to increase productivity at unprecedented levels. Ribet points out that clients such as Safran, Renault or Jaguar Land Rover may need to go even further, into field services.
“We have customers that have started to work with us for a little bit more than a year and a half that are not selling a product anymore. They sell the number of hours of usage of a product, moving rapidly from aerospace and defense or automotive to industrial equipment,” Ribet tells us. “We have a customer in Germany, active in automated line building for large factories, that came to us because retrofitting a production line was taking too much time. So, they moved to a modular architecture. They created a bill of materials and a virtual twin of the line but they realized that they could not program every single aspect. So, they came to the realization that some custom modules would have to be produced on-demand and be additive-driven.”
In Dassault Systèmes’ vision, this is the future of manufacturing: last mile, additive-driven production line customization at the client’s location. When a new production line is delivered, the client receives the physical assets, the technical documentation and the digital twin, including the system twin that allows individual modules to be created using an additive manufacturing process.
3DEXPERIENCE includes three core technologies that are instantiated for this scenario. DELMIA is for manufacturing process automation, workflows and retrofitting. ENOVIA is the PLM backbone that is used to manage the bill of material, the structure and costs. CATIA Magic is a model-based system engineering platform that orchestrates of all that as a system or systems. This is based on RFLP, which stands for “requirement, functions, logic and physics”. These four elements are used to describe any part the system.
“Once you have this model, you can run it virtually as long as you want,” Mr. Ribet says. “You can make changes and see what it will be. And the beauty is that you can also emulate the manufacturing process, including the robot, the conveyor or a 3D printer. Just drag and drop the item to visualize the yield, the speed, and energy consumption of the manufacturing line.
Pulling AM into production
Just a few years ago, companies like Dassault Systèmes had to push their customers to adopt AM, now Ribet points out that there is much more of a pull from the market, with aerospace driving demand of end-use parts and all segments looking at AM for their tooling requirements. With medical devices at the forefront. This trend is even more evident for companies that work in critical sectors, where they not only need to keep their products confidential but also the entire manufacturing process. “The only way to do that is to specify to a partner, to an external company just a high-level description of what they need and then tune it, tweak it, adjust it and create valuable internal knowledge. These companies use the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as the core of what they do,” says Mr. Ribet. “We don’t even know the details of what they are doing with our software, but I can tell you that the requirement they give to us are pretty technical.”
Mr. Ribet points to functional prototyping, for physical validation early in the development process as a key short-term opportunity for AM, together with last-mile tooling customization, after-sales support and repair. “Tooling is relevant today because so many industrial processes need to change with new regulations,” Ribet says. “From aerospace to energy generation, there is a widespread need to reboot.” As an example, Mr. Ribet points to Vertical Aerospace, a UK startup exhibiting its six-seater eVTOL at FIA2022. “They started to work with us two years ago with a blank page and less than two years later they have a model that is going to be certified for flight soon,” Ribet reveals. “They received almost 4 billion euro of orders from Japan Airlines, American Airlines, Avalon, Boeing. It’s massive. In two years, they had to master many manufacturing processes and material science and they said that without a modeling and simulation approach like the one powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform it would have been impossible. They used it to conduct a lot of virtual testing, but they also want to test some specific variants and configurations, which is why they are really looking at doing that with 3D printing.”
Another key area is nuclear energy generation. Today nearly half of France’s nuclear power plants, the largest source of nuclear energy in Europe, are closed because they were imagined from an engineering standpoint in the 60s and they were put in production late 70s or the 80s. Should they be shut down or retrofitted? “Many replacement parts no longer exist, or they are no longer certified by the authority of nuclear safety,” Ribet says. “Some may need the replacement of thousands of fixtures that nobody can manufacture. When you have critical parts that are used in strategic products that cost billions of euros, and these cannot be manufactured anymore, there’s no other choice than additive – he adds, pointing out that there is going to be a large market for simple parts that are no longer in production and will need to be reversed engineered and printed. “Which is exactly why we [Dassault Systèmes] acquired Diota.”
Before this happens, Ribet points out that AM still needs to overcome some limitations. One of them is speed and productivity “but I am certain that these will be overcome,” he clarifies. A more pressing question – he adds – is how do you ensure traceability of what is being printed? This is important in critical, highly regulated domains. With traditional manufacturing it’s easier, you just need to implement physical security, but in digital workflows how do you know that a hacker has not tampered with the behavior of the printing process? How do you make sure that what comes out of the machine is exactly as it was supposed to be? When you see it coming out, you cannot know if it has been compromised, especially for complex lattice structures typical of AM parts. Cyber security is going to be a major topic in AM as it moves towards final parts production.
How will Dassault Systèmes and its customers address this challenge? The date is set for the next show.