Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Best Practice : Production Engineering
Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) has progressed from the time-consuming method of production engineering to a streamlined Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) based method of quick turnaround of a quality product. By reducing costs in the areas of drawing interpretation, rapid prototyping, and rework, RIA has realized cycle time reductions and material cost savings, placing them in a very competitive position in the production of machined goods.
A steering committee was formed in the mid 1980s consisting of representatives from the Arsenal Programs, Arsenal Operations, Science and Engineering, and Quality Assurance directorates to develop CAD/CAM hardware and software requirements to bring its products through the entire design, manufacturing, and quality product life cycle. In 1991, Unigraphics was awarded a $3M contract to supply the required hardware and software based on a multi-year specification development and review process.
By utilizing the Unigraphics software suite on an HP-UNIX workstation platform and a master model concept, RIA has cut the development costs 53% in the Engineering Drawing Interpretation area alone. By using a tool path verification/simulation software which verifies the tool location possibilities, RIA has not only dramatically reduced costly time consuming tool path verification processes but also model redevelopment, which would be required if the tool path was found to be impossible due to tool/machining limitations. If a complex tool path is not simulated, major damage can occur resulting in safety hazards, loss of production time, loss of product, and costly tool/machine damage.
In September 1996, RIA implemented a rapid prototyping technique/machine called Laminated Object Manufacturing where cross sections of paper are automatically laminated and laser formed. A case study demonstrated an 80% cost savings over the old pattern development methods, and reduced the development cycle from 15 work days to 2.5 days, saving the customer $11,501 for model development.
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