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I was challenged to demonstrate the entire manufacturing process for a part, from initial project creation all the way through final documentation using the TopSolid 7 platform. So, this series of videos walks you through a complete manufacturing process and demonstrates how TopSolid 7, a very robust design and machining platform, allows you design and machine for manufacturability.

After completing this challenge and making the resulting series of videos available to you, I decided to extend the effort. To that end, we created the Program Your Part Challenge in which I invite you to challenge me with your problem part and/or manufacturing challenges.

We now need to prepare this part for the designing of the fixture we will use to manufacture the part. First, I set the datum or main zero point of this part that I want to use in all of my processes relating to this part. When I first designed this part (demonstrated in the last video) I designed it using the absolute frame down bottom center of the part because that is what it looked like my customer’s drawing called for. However, I am going to have TopSolid shift that zero to where I want it to be for my manufacturing process and critically importantly, to simplify my engineering process.

After setting the datum, I published the frame. While this publishing step seems kind of mundane, it is actually incredibly important and one of the characteristics that makes TopSolid so powerful because it has allowed TopSolid to achieve true ultra-lightweight assemblies. This means that when I include a part within an assembly via a bottom-up strategy, I am only including the visual representation of the part and none of the history or construction geometry. This approach allows assemblies to run very, very fast in TopSolid.

Additionally, we want our designers using TopSolid to make good choices and to only build relationships that make sense.  So, publishing allows us to tell TopSolid “what to bring with it” when I include this object in my assembly.

Building the New Assembly

After creating the absolute frame, it is easy to create the pattern of frames I want for my fixture. For convenience during this initial assembly building process, and so that I can efficiently change it later if needed, I created a fixture spacing distance parameter.

Using a simple frame on frame constraint I positioned my first fixture on my assembly. After creating three copies of my four-fixture assemble, two of the many powerful flexibility aspects of TopSolid become apparent. In this case, I selected to copy the fixtures rather than repeat them. I chose this option because I wanted the flexibility to rotate the last two fixtures on the to create an optimal manufacturing process given my manufacturing set up. Secondly, I created a distance parameter that will allow me to quickly make any needed changes as I proceed with this project.

Time-Saving Tips & Tricks

  • Holding the control button on your keyboard, left-button mouse clicking and dragging and dropping creates a copy of the designated part or component
  • By creating the distance parameter, the parametric design nature of TopSolid captured design intent that makes adjusting the distance parameter incredibly simple. Most importantly, this created parameter will push any relevant design change through your entire manufacturing process as you continue your work. This is an incredibly powerful capability given how challenging change management is for many manufacturing organizations.

Want to challenge me with a part or manufacturing process problems? Check out the Program Your Part Challenge.