A new software program that simulates assembly paths has been developed by engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM, Kaiserslautern, Germany). By using the software, components that only exist in the form of CAD data can be virtually installed in a new car model.
A new software program that simulates assembly paths has been developed by engineers at the Fraunhofer-Chalmers Research Centre for Industrial Mathematics (Gothenburg, Sweden) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM, Kaiserslautern, Germany). By using the software, components that only exist in the form of CAD data can be virtually installed in a new car model by manufacturing engineers. If a component is too large to be maneuvered into place, the program gives concrete advice on where to change its shape.
“We can also include the pliability of components in the assembly simulation,” claims ITWM group manager Joachim Linn. “In the CAD data, flexible components, such as plastic parts for the passenger compartment, appear rigid. But, during assembly, they have to be slightly bent and pressed.”
The software allows engineers to answer questions such as: How much force needs to be applied to bend the dashboard far enough to install it in the car? Can the job be done by just one employee? Are special tools required? How can flexible brake hoses be installed most efficiently?
The researchers also simulate the use of assembly robots, whose flexible supply lines often scrape against the car body, leaving small scratches. The program computes how the robot should move and fit the parts so that the cables do not hit the bodywork.
“These computations are fast, like the CAD programs that designers are used to,” says Linn. “You can work interactively with the program to make a component longer or shorter in just a few seconds. For this purpose, we slimmed down the highly accurate structure-mechanical computation processes. The results are still accurate enough but are delivered in real time. Assembly paths, too, are computed within minutes.”