Today’s product developers face constant pressure to work faster but often resist it because they equate working faster with reduced quality when working on more complex products and assemblies.
However, designers and engineers can reduce time to market without reducing the quality of their work by automating manual processes. For example, implementing model-based definition through MBD software conveniently substitutes 2D engineering drawings with all the necessary product information embedded within the 3D CAD model. This reduces development cycle time by eliminating technical drawings and improving communication by supplying accurate PMI directly to stakeholders.
This information can include all geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) symbols and data, materials, standard dimensions, engineering configurations, design intent, quality requirements, the bill of materials, and any other manufacturing notes, such as surface finishing details.
Product data management (PDM) software digitally manages the 3D CAD model and its revisions, which secures data and ensures that all stakeholders have access to the right information at the right time.
While the traditional method of communicating requirements and design intent through 2D drawings is well established, it’s not infallible. It takes time and skill to produce 2D graphics, in addition to the training and experience needed to understand them. Additonally, 2D drawings can be open to misinterpretation, and this miscommunication can lead to production delays, scraps, and rework—wasting time, materials, and money.
Stemming from the necessity of tight tolerances in demanding industries such as aerospace, MBD was codified in the 2003 ASME Y14.41 Standard “Digital Product Definition Data Practices,” by a committee of industry leaders such as Boeing, Caterpillar, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce. Standardized MBD helps these and other international companies collaborate among teams and partners that may be distributed across many countries and speak many languages.
Modern MBD software makes it easier to implement reliable, universally understood annotations of model-based definition into 3D models. These act as a secure and digitally managed source of truth for the disparate teams involved in every stage of a product’s lifecycle: ideation, design, simulation, tooling, manufacturing, inspection, and servicing.
Compared to 2D paper drawings, using MBD can shorten the design-to-manufacturing-to-inspection process by about 75%, according to a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study from 2016. Practices like MBD have also aided the rise of “model-based enterprises” (MBE), product development companies that maximize the process efficiencies from 3D model data for design and manufacturing—and downstream operations across internal teams, external suppliers, and partners.