Industry 4.0: Challenges and perspectives for the factory of the future and intelligent machining

Industry 4.0: Challenges and perspectives for the factory of the future and intelligent machining

In a context of fierce competition where globalization is omnipresent and consumer habits are changing, companies have no choice but to change their manufacturing methods.

The factory of the future will have to be agile and connected in order to ensure its competitiveness and productivity. It will have to handle the diversification and changing needs, producing in shorter time frames, while being environmentally conscious thanks to its energy efficiency. We have been talking about Industry 4.0 for several years. What are the challenges for companies? What does the “factory of the future” mean?

What is Industry 4.0?

Concept and origin of Industry 4.0

A concept first highlighted at the Industrial Technology Fair in Hanover, Germany, in 2011, Industry 4.0 is a reference to the first three industrial revolutions.

The first industrial revolution took place in the 18th century after the invention of steam engines, allowing mechanized production. The arrival of the electricity grid led to the rise of the second industrial revolution at the end of the 18th century. Finally, the automation of production in the 20th century led to the third revolution.

The idea behind Industry 4.0 is to reverse the trend of globalization to the advantage of European industries by encouraging factories to acquire the latest technological tools, all connected via the Internet and the Cloud.

In the new factory, the idea is to put the factory at the service of the operator, not the operator at the service of the factory. Since people are the central factor in this plan, every effort is made to improve the ergonomics, productivity and safety of each workstation. As the evolution of production methods has led the operator to carry out more and more procedures, the objective of the ultra-connected factory is to dematerialize all these phases, so that people are focused on tasks with high added value. To do this, each machine will be connected and communicate with the network, and the information will be transversal to be distributed between the different departments. Information will be disseminated smoothly and efficiently from the customer’s purchase order, through all stages of the manufacturing process, to the shipment of the finished product.

Industry 4.0 components: What are they?

The connected factory, or factory of the future, is not going to revolutionize everything. It will use existing equipment, improve it, and then place it at the heart of a network where all the information can be shared.

For this purpose, certain tools are essential to support the change:

  • The Internet of Things will allow the development of newly manufactured products, therefore opening up new market opportunities.
  • 3D printing opens up new production possibilities, able to adapt to the competitive production of small series.
  • Collaborative robots (Cobots): as operator assistance, the cobot will improve the productivity, safety and efficiency of some workstations.
  • Augmented reality: By juxtaposing information related to certain procedures (notably maintenance) to the individual’s visual field, augmented reality will allow you to rapidly intervene by following the displayed procedures.
  • Cyber-physical systems (CPS): They allow new features to be added to physical elements for the purpose of process control and management. It becomes a key element in the information chain.
  • Industrial big data: The gigantic database of the factory of tomorrow will evolve into “Smart data” with the introduction of artificial intelligence. It will notably improve predictive maintenance.

The range of CAD, CAM, PDM TopSolid solutions

Challenges and perspectives for the factory of the future

The challenge of the 4.0 factory will be to increase productivity while adapting to a new way of consuming. Today’s consumer is buying more and more and tends to focus on customizing objects. So one of the main challenges of the factory of the future will be to combine productivity with mass customization and reduced series.

To do this, it will be necessary to facilitate the use of programming software to save time, so that the individual can use them very quickly. One of the objectives will be to process the information in a very short time, while maintaining flexibility in the parameters.

The machining of the future will require the implementation of an intelligent system, capable of self-assessment and correction. The goal of Industry 4.0 is to create “intelligent machining”: the collection of know-how and process data, combined with artificial intelligence, for the benefit of production.

How does TopSolid fit into Industry 4.0?

Although the concept of “Industry 4.0” appeared only a few years ago, TopSolid did not wait for the fourth industrial revolution to follow this logic of the factory of the future.

TopSolid has been offering a fully integrated digital chain for years via its suite of CAD/CAM software suite, therefore providing total interconnectivity from design to construction.


TopSolid continues its evolution towards the CAD/CAM of the future, which involves:

  • Intelligent design: in addition to 3D models already well recovered at the geometric level, the recovery of machining information (PMI) and tolerances, as well as taking into account milling and turning operations.
  • More automation: predictive calculations: vibration calculations, deformation of parts due to clamping; refined tool life management (with calculated cutting conditions); families of similar parts (adapting to customized mass production); automatic range generation.
  • Using the cloud: collecting the company’s BigData, deporting greedy calculations, constantly updating the software.
  • Putting people at the heart of the 4th industrial revolution: change management, setting up certified training courses for the mutual benefit of companies and their employees.
What are the seven essential features of a CAD software?

What are the seven essential features of a CAD software?

The CAD software must have all the necessary features to address your needs. To choose your computer-aided design (CAD) software, you need to take into account the current issues specific to your business! What are the challenges that professionals encounter for designing parts and machines?

  • Strict delivery time requirements: new consumer habits and the rise of Industry 4.0 are making delivery times even shorter, so compliance is urgent.
  • Competition is increasing: in this context, the company must improve performance and make a difference in its market.
  • Just-in-time logistics require optimized stock management.
  • New quality standards are emerging, traceability must be implemented in an exemplary manner.
  • The technicalities of the business are constantly evolving: faced with this fact, the company must surround itself with personnel that is not only qualified but also regularly trained.

To fully meet these challenges, equip yourself with a CAD software with seven key features.


#1 A modern and ergonomic user interface

The first essential feature of the CAD software: its user interface. The way in which the tool is controlled and operated has a direct impact on the final productivity. The easier and faster the software is to use, the more productive the user becomes.

  • The commands must be designed according to modern conventions: copy and paste, drag & drop, contextual menus, etc. to allow the user to immediately adapt to the new tool.
  • Access to the commands should be easy, fast and intuitive, in order to optimize the user’s working time.

Choose a CAD software with a modern and ergonomic user interface: you reduce the learning curve and you can work faster.


#2 Associativity, a guarantee of reliability

Associativity automates the updating of one element with respect to another. The designer can therefore easily modify his construction history: the associated operations are automatically updated.


  • Moving a screw automatically moves the holes.
  • Changing a chassis length automatically changes the positioning of the associated components.

With associativity, a key feature of good CAD software, you can drastically reduce the risk of errors or omissions when updating an element. And therefore, you can save time in the design process. So be sure to choose a tool that allows associative or parametric design.


#3 Choice in design methods

A good CAD software offers three design methods.

  • “Bottom-up” design: this is the simplest method which consists of first designing the parts individually, and then assembling them. This is the principle of LEGO®! The assembly is then a succession of predefined part positionings.
  • “Top-down” design: conversely, the designer starts from the constraint, then deduces the necessary assemblies and parts.
  • “In-place” design: a variation of top-down design where parts are designed in their assembly context. The designer then has the advantage of simplicity for the creation of connecting parts, in particular.

The relevance of which method to be used varies from one profession to another. A manufacturer of highly standardized products will favor the Bottom-up method, while a subcontractor who works “on the case” will favor the Top-down method, for example. In any case, the three methods are complementary. To take advantage of your CAD software, make sure that the tool offers these three powerful design methods: maximum flexibility in choice and the precious opportunity of complementary methods.


#4 Smart components

User productivity increases as good standard components are created. For this purpose, your CAD system must provide the appropriate features. Unique smart components, process management, installation wizards, etc. allow you to store user know-how. Ultimately, the design is accelerated: the productivity gain is obvious.


TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

#5 Design documentation tools

Once completed, the design must be documented. This includes generating exploded views, assembly instructions, bills of materials, etc. These features are essential to get the most out of your CAD software. The tool must therefore make it possible to easily generate all useful production documents from an assembly.


#6 A detailed and standardized drawing

Despite the increasing use of 3D, detailed and standardized drawings of the designs are still often necessary, “the drawing is authentic!” Your CAD software must therefore integrate a powerful automated drawing module, to perform this task quickly when necessary.


#7 Change management tools

When choosing your CAD software, the extent and performance of the modeling features are essential criteria, but are not sufficient! The designer also has to deal with management issues. Changes to the specifications during the design process are common practice, so the tool must offer intuitive and powerful features for this purpose. To manage all types of modifications, without wasting time or reliability, choosing a PDM is then crucial. Therefore, you should choose a fully integrated PDM, which will allow you to track changes during the design process. From simple part number change to more complex modifications (interchanging parts, for example), pay attention to the extent of the PDM capabilities of your CAD software.


TopSolid is designed to address all the current challenges faced by professionals when designing parts and machines. TopSolid integrates the essential features of a good CAD software. In addition, you benefit from close support for the deployment of your new solution. Beforehand, evaluating your needs allows us to define the features of your tool according to your working methods. Afterward and in the long term, our technical support, everywhere in France and around the world, is available and responsive for beneficial proximity.


Interested in deploying a CAD software perfectly adapted to your needs? Contact us!

Why does CAD/CAM allow you to add new markets and also earn money?

Why does CAD/CAM allow you to add new markets and also earn money?

While many companies have not yet acquired their own CAD/CAM solution, the fact remains that a well-thought-out CAD/CAM solution can be a great ally in growing your business. How can CAD/CAM allow you to add new markets? What are the main criteria to take into account when choosing a CAD/CAM solution? Our answers.

A CAD/CAM to add new markets

Regardless of the type of business, part programming without a CAD/CAM solution, although possible, very quickly reaches a certain limit in terms of technicality and quality. While using a manual and conversational programming “genius” may seem like a viable option, it is nonetheless unrealistic and resolutely limited for large-scale production capacity.

For many companies, equipping themselves with a CAD/CAM solution not only allows them to develop additional technical programming skills, but also represents a significant lever to be able to respond to numerous requests for tenders, which were previously declined.

Better performance, lower costs: there are many advantages to using a CAD/CAM system:

  • Less tool wear
  • Less waste
  • Less machine downtime
  • Better rationalization
  • etc.

In a development logic, the acquisition of an efficient CAD/CAM is a key step for companies. Whatever the specialization of the company, CAD/CAM becomes an ally of machines and human resources, and leads the company towards markets that were previously inaccessible due to a lack of resources. With the ability to produce more, in less time, the company can therefore go further, expand its offer, enter new markets and increase its turnover.


Choosing a CAD/CAM software that supports your growth

Though the added value of a CAD/CAM software is already proven, it is still necessary to choose the solution best suited to your needs, which will help you to expand your business. What are the focal points to be taken into account?

Benefits of a fully integrated CAD/CAM solution

Not all CAD and CAM solutions are created equal. Some solutions only offer the Computer Aided Manufacturing option, i.e. only the part relating to the programming of CNC (Computer Numerical Control Machines). In this case, it will be difficult for users to design their own parts to be machined or define a machining setup. To address this situation, users tend to add a CAD solution to their CAM solution. We can therefore talk about a “partially” integrated solution. And for good reason, since the exchanges between the two solutions are not “native”, they are often more difficult to master, not always reliable and even sometimes hazardous.

While a CAD/CAM solution is intended to support the company in its development, choosing a fully integrated solution is preferable. The union between Design and Manufacturing is therefore natively made, and communication between the two entities is direct, optimal and without any ambiguity.



TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

Criteria to be taken into account

A CAD/CAM solution must be a complete, flexible, modern and easy to use tool. It must therefore:

  • Offer a range of possible simple features that can be quickly assimilated by an experienced professional, but also by a new employee discovering the company and its specificities in machining.
  • Be perfectly compatible with the company’s means of production, in particular the machines to be driven and their diversity –  language, technology (3x,4x,5x, turning, mill-turn), their size, their complexity (multi-spindle, multi-table, head attachments, etc.).
  • Be perfectly compatible with the expected manufacturing needs. The software tool must be able to meet the company’s machining needs and manufacture the customer’s parts.

If it responds to these various challenges, a CAD/CAM solution is a way for the company to be more efficient in its production:

  • Reducing programming times
  • Reducing machining times
  • Improving quality (less waste)
  • Reducing costs
  • Being more competitive in the face of the competition, either in terms of time or price
  • And therefore gaining more market share

Advantage of teaching CAD/CAM nationally

In addition to the performance of the CAD/CAM solution, favoring a solution that is taught at the national level represents added value and potential for companies looking for development. The fact that a CAD/CAM solution is taught at the national level is not only a guarantee of confidence, but it also represents a major advantage for companies in terms of human resources management: easier recruitment, faster integration, increased productivity, etc.


TopSolid, a growth partner for companies

For more than 30 years, TopSolid has been adapting its offer to the needs of the market in which it operates. A CAD/CAM solution acclaimed by teachers, TopSolid can be proud of offering a “fully” integrated digital channel. Responding to the growth and development challenges faced by many companies, regardless of their size, today we are proud to contribute to their acquisition of new markets and their prosperity. To find out to what extent CAD/CAM can be a lever for performance and growth, there is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes: our customers In Bo and VCN Industries (videos available in French).

Advantages and criteria for choosing the PDM for your CAD/CAM solution

Advantages and criteria for choosing the PDM for your CAD/CAM solution


In the age of digitization, design can no longer work without the management component. CAD/CAM companies are well aware of this: managing and storing product data using an automated centralization tool is a major challenge. Yet the use of a PDM in machining is still not the norm. Why should you have a PDM for CAM machining? What are the benefits? What features of the tool should you check when making a decision? Answers.

What is PDM?

PDM is the acronym for Product Data Management. It is also known as a Technical Data Management System. This acronym refers to the digital tool used to retrieve, manage and store electronic information relating to a product.

The role of the PDM in CAD/CAM is to collect and centralize all the CAD documents. In view: a smooth and controlled availability to the users concerned – engineers, and also production or purchasing departments.

CAD/CAM initially made it possible to design, test and produce parts. However, the digitization chain must not stop there. Once the product cycle has been completed, certain problems arise.

  • Traceability: this issue originally appeared in the most sensitive and exposed sectors – the medical and aeronautics sectors. Companies need to know who did what, when and how.
  • Capitalization: the company capitalizes on its know-how, which represents an intangible asset with high added value. In this context, it is in its best interest to carefully keep all its product data in a safe place.
  • The rise in performance: in an ultra-competitive context, and at a time when technological progress allows – demands – a permanent change in techniques, the parts produced in CAD/CAM are bound to evolve. And quickly. To improve performance, the company has no choice but to constantly adapt its products.

The PDM takes over to address these different issues.


TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

Advantages of PDM for your CAD/CAM solution

How is the product designed, manufactured and operated? All of this technical information represents a considerable and valuable amount of data. To ensure centralized and secure storage, to allow automated updates and to ensure smooth and controlled sharing in real time, the company must have a high-performance management tool.

As a database for machine-oriented people, the PDM has the following advantages:

  • Secure storage: the PDM collects and stores product data. This management tool, in this context, has the advantage of integrity and security. The risk of human error and data loss are reduced to zero.
  • Digitized centralization: CAD/CAM eliminates manual tasks and paper format. Templates and documents are now fully digitized, and their management must also comply with this requirement. With the PDM, the company saves itself a considerable amount of time when it comes to finding information.
  • Update and collaborative work in real-time: product data is updated to optimize the parts that are modified. Faster, ultra-secure. The PDM also allows several people to work on the same project without compromising data integrity.
  • Optimal visibility and smooth sharing: the dissemination of information, due to its digitization, is ensured under the best conditions regarding deadline and reliability. Product data is easily accessible to all or only authorized users.

The PDM, in CAD/CAM, is an essential tool for flexible and smooth management. This is why the most efficient CAD/CAM software today includes a product data management system, for a global tool at the service of company performance.


Discover TopSolid’s integrated PDM

Aware of the performance challenges of CAD/CAM companies, TOPSOLID SAS offers an all-in-one tool, which integrates an adapted PDM system into the CAD/CAM software. You can provide yourself with, in a single software package, a programming tool as well as a document management tool.

  • TopSolid’s PDM allows you to manage all of your TopSolid documents as well as the supporting documents: material certificates, orders for specific tools, administrative processes and validation of loads, etc. The database of your digital tool integrates all types of information, without volume limit.
  • With TopSolid, you have the opportunity to automate the entire digital chain. By centralizing the company’s know-how via an ultra-secure, collaborative and intuitive system, the company preserves its intangible assets and makes information available in a smooth and controlled manner.

The major advantages of TopSolid’s integrated PDM:

  • A user-friendly tool: the user takes control of the tool intuitively, saving precious time. It easily exploits all of the features of the software, for the benefit of the company.
  • A machining simulation with ISO code management according to the simulation.
  • A machining situation in conditions of optimal reliability.
  • The management of machined stocks.

Concentrate on your core business, save yourself management issues, save time and exploit the latest technological innovations with TopSolid’s integrated PDM! Data security, smooth and controlled exchanges, maintaining know-how, etc., treat yourself to the best advantages of the PDM for CAD/CAM!

Everything you need to know about programming complex parts

Everything you need to know about programming complex parts

In CAD/CAM, and particularly in machining, the manufacturing of parts with complex shapes must comply with the functional specifications expressed by the designer or the creator. The geometric model built in CAD is a digital reference model that must be reproduced as accurately as possible during the manufacturing phase. Complex shapes can sometimes be difficult to reproduce: adequate programming is therefore the key to success in CAD/CAM.

What is a complex part?

We speak of a complex part when there are topologies that must go through many machining paths, often with risk of collision, as well as areas that are difficult to access. The notion of the complexity of a part does not only depend on its shape or its size. In fact, the nature of the material used, the presence of residual stresses, the risk of overheating or the precision that is required are all factors that contribute to complicating the task for the machine tool operators.


Examples of complex parts

  • Aluminum moulds for plastic injection;
  • Automobile cylinder heads;
  • Inconel turbine blades for aeronautics;
  • Titanium bearings for the aerospace industry.


TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

Steps for successful programming

Before proceeding to the manufacturing stage, it is essential to be well prepared. The CAD file of the part to be designed must first be checked and the tolerances adjusted. It is obviously necessary to choose the machine and tools adapted to the expected result and, if possible, to go through a simulation stage. 


Preliminary analysis

Before starting the manufacturing stage, all parts must be checked. First, make sure that it is the correct part and the correct version of the file. 


Tolerance management

For a complex CAD model to be machinable, it often requires modification. In fact, in most situations, CAD models are drawn from nominal dimensions. However, manufacturing and machining operations impose tolerances that will need to be adjusted in the CAD files. If you are using a CAD/CAM software, think about its ability to modify the dimensions afterward.  


Choosing machines and cutting tools

Not all machines are created equal. Choosing the right machine depends on many parameters such as the shape of the part, the size, the material, etc. Likewise, there is a multitude of cutting tools dedicated to machining complex parts. Their shape depends on the geometries to be drilled, turned or milled, and the material they are made of is selected according to the material to be machined as well as the kinematic parameters. The choice of machines and tools will therefore strongly determine the success of the machining process.  


Go through a simulation step before starting the manufacturing

Machining complex parts is expensive, so it is best to avoid messing up the first parts and having to perform machining operations again. Therefore, simulating the tool paths in parallel with the programming allows the operator to compare the simulated model with the machining in progress, which prevents the risk of collision and enables real-time reaction.


Advantages of TopSolid

One of the challenges of CAD/CAM is producing complex parts using the minimum number of steps, the ideal is to be able to independently machine a part, without disassembly. TopSolid’Cam is therefore able to manage the programming of lathes/milling machines, whether turning combined with 2D or 3D milling operations as well as 4-axis or 5-axis continuous.  


Managing the latest tools

TopSolid’Cam is able to manage the new barrel milling cutters. These milling cutters are best able to adapt to the shapes with low curvature, which makes it possible to significantly reduce the number of passes in the 5-axis tool path.  


Dynamic machining in turning and milling

TopSolid’Cam integrates a high-performance machining function, which makes it possible to keep a constant volume of material removed during the machining process and therefore to wear out the cutting tools less quickly.  

Easy to modify afterward

The TopSolid software, and in particular the version dedicated to TopSolid’Cam machining, is extremely flexible as it offers powerful features that allow you to modify the parts afterward. This is an asset for the manufacturing of complex parts, which require many adjustments.  


Automatic shape detection

TopSolid can automatically detect basic shapes such as grooves, drillings and pockets on models designed with TopSolid, but also on imported models. This makes the software a valuable ally that helps to guide the operator to the right machining strategies through intelligent topological analysis.  


Powerful algorithms

The programming of complex 4-axis and 5-axis parts requires high-performance simulation tools and powerful automation. TopSolid’Cam incorporates valuable automatic features such as collision detection, which helps to reduce machining defects. Thanks to all the machining algorithms offered by TopSolid, it is possible to process all the parts of a mould, for example.  

How do you manage a large interior design project using a CAD/CAM software?

How do you manage a large interior design project using a CAD/CAM software?

Carrying out all the work involved in site layout is a part of the daily life of interior designers. As a decoration and finishing specialist, he is called upon to manage projects of all sizes and to work from interior design concepts and execution drawings. CAD/CAM software is a valuable ally for large and complex projects. Let’s find out why together.

What do we mean by a large-scale project?


An interior design project is said to be “large-scale” when it is complex, when the surfaces involved are large and when several sectors of activity are involved. In general, designing surfaces larger than 50 m² is considered to be a large-scale job.

Examples of large-scale interior design projects

Designing a complete Hotel is considered to be a large-scale project. A hotel is not only made up of rooms, but also of a lobby, a restaurant, a bar and corridors, which must be harmoniously arranged to form an aesthetic whole. The nautical industry is also strongly affected by large-scale interior design and mainly the luxury yacht market. There are even super-yachts over 150 meters long with several thousand square meters of living space including spas, swimming pools, libraries and a large amount of nesting furniture. The arrangement of such a complicated project is usually entrusted to companies specializing in luxury naval carpentry.

The need for collaborative work

Large-scale interior design projects, such as those mentioned above, require the use of different but complementary professions. Specialized people with valuable expertise will thus be brought together to work in a coordinated manner. But when it comes to collaborative work, you need the right tools. Like BIM (Building Information Modeling), which consists of having employees working on a digital model, a large-scale interior design project can rely on modern work tools such as CAD/CAM software.


TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

How can CAD/CAM be involved in a large-scale interior design project?


A CAD/CAM software allows you to design parts in 3D model (CAD), but also includes the manufacturing part (CAM). It is therefore essential for companies that manufacture furniture using numerical control machines based on drawings. However, some software, such as TopSolid, offers other features which are particularly suitable for interior design projects.


TopSolid’Wood software and work by areas


One of the significant features of TopSolid’Wood is that it allows the user to work in several workspaces or areas. The concept is as follows: from a master file, the user will be able to create several workspaces in which the interior design of each area will be created. Once the design of each area is completed, the user can then generate a final assembly from the files.


Advantages of the “master” file


Working with a master file is convenient. But its main advantage is probably the flexibility it provides by facilitating file update processes. In addition, the TopSolid’Wood master file provides an overview using a construction tree that provides access to all workspaces. This allows you to make changes in order to define spaces even more quickly. In addition, TopSolid’Wood allows you to create a master file from the CAD files from other software.