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Digital manufacturing


Digital manufacturing is an integrated approach to manufacturing that is centered around a computer system. The transition to digital manufacturing has become more popular with the rise in the quantity and quality of computer systems in manufacturing plants. As more automated tools have become used in manufacturing plants it has become necessary to model, simulate, and analyze all of the machines, tooling, and input materials in order to optimize the manufacturing process. Overall, digital manufacturing can be seen sharing the same goals as computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), flexible manufacturing, lean manufacturing, and design for manufacturability (DFM). The main difference is that digital manufacturing was evolved for use in the computerized world.

Manufacturing engineers use 3D modeling software to design the tools and machinery necessary for their intended applications. The software allows them to design the factory floor layout and the production flow. This technique lets engineers analyze the current manufacturing processes and allows them to search for ways to increase efficiency in production before production even begins.

Simulation can be used to model and test a system's behavior. Simulation also provides engineers with a tool for inexpensive, fast, and secure analysis to test how changes in a system can affect the performance of that system.

Digital manufacturing systems often incorporate optimization capabilities to reduce time, cost, and improve the efficiency of most processes. These systems improve optimization of floor schedules, production planning, and decision making. The system analyzes feedback from production, such as deviations or problems in the manufacturing system, and generates solutions for handling them.

There are many different tooling processes that digital manufacturing utilizes. However, every digital manufacturing process involves the use of computerized numerical controlled machines (CNC). This technology is crucial in digital manufacturing as it not only enables mass production and flexibility, but it also provides a link between a CAD model and production. The two primary categories of CNC tooling are additive and subtractive. Major strides in additive manufacturing have come about recently and are at the forefront of digital manufacturing. These processes allow machines to address every element of a part no matter the complexity of its shape.

Ink-Jet Processing - Although the most widely used ink-jet process is used for printing on paper, there are many that are applied in engineering. This process involves a printhead depositing layers of liquid material onto a filler powder in the shape of the desired object. After the powder is saturated, a fresh new layer of powder is added continually until the object is built.

Optimization of a parts manufacturing process. This can be done by modifying and/or creating procedures within a virtual and controlled environment. By doing this the use of new robotic or automated systems can be tested in the manufacturing procedure before being physically implemented.

Additive Manufacturing - Additive manufacturing is the "process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer." Digital Additive manufacturing is highly automated which means less man hours and machine utilization, and therefore reduced cost. By incorporating model data from digitized open sources, products can be produced quickly, efficiently, and cheaply.

Cloud-Based Design (CBD) refers to a model that incorporates social network sites, cloud computing, and other web technologies to aid in cloud design services. This type of system must be cloud computing-based, be accessible from mobile devices, and must be able to manage complex information. Autodesk Fusion 360 is an example CBD.