Designers get real-time 3D

Space vehicle components manufacturer Astrium has completed trials of a real-time 3D modelling design system which has cut design...

Space vehicle components manufacturer Astrium has completed trials of a real-time 3D modelling design system which has cut design times by 30% and helps to create unified design processes.

The company - which is involved in the International Space Station and the Ariane rocket projects - is to roll out Dassault Systemes' Enovia virtual product modelling and IBM Product Lifecycle Management tools for 115 design engineers at three European sites.

Using the system, the company's engineers can now collaborate using 3D models of components updated in real time and linked to technical and production data.

The digital mock-up facility enables Astrium engineers to ensure that design changes and alterations to related scientific data are communicated instantly with each other and supply partners.

The company previously used 3D modelling, in which changes were communicated by manually-actioned batch transfer with no background technical data integrated.

The company reduced design times and shortened time-to-market for its products - which include orbital, transportation and propulsion systems for space vehicles, as well as avionics.

Martin Smith, worldwide manager of product data management for IBM, said, "It is a geometry authoring tool - like a word processor for 3D."

A master model is held on one server and this is replicated among designers. It is essentially a database with data replicated among users and linkable to other systems such as supply chain management software.

Because it relies on a central database, engineers who had their own databases now have to work collaboratively to a greater extent, with their own data exposed to peers.

Archi Dreyer, head of engineering systems at Astrium's space infrastructure division, said: "The integration of data inherent to this system means there can now be a uniformity of processes."

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