Discovering 3YOURMIND’s Agile Manufacturing Suite for Additive Manufacturing
The recent official launch of the POLYLINE project has shed light on the collaborative efforts of companies which will develop automation solutions of additive manufacturing for the automotive industry. The project gathers 15 partners from the research, industry and science fields. Although each partner brings a unique expertise, it should be noted that the role of digital solutions is more than ever crucial in the success of this project.
One company, which is a partner of this project and which is currently gaining momentum in this market thanks to its digital solutions is 3YOURMIND. The software company will connect and manage the entire additive manufacturing worklow into the project thanks to its Agile Manufacturing Suite.
In this Opinion of the Week series, Alexandre Donnadieu-Deray, Head of Sales and Managing Director North America at 3YOURMIND, discusses the importance of this software for the additive manufacturing industry as well as a few solutions to address issues related to quality control.
Donnadieu-Deray began his journey at 3YOURMIND when the company opened an office in France, in 2018. Thanks to his ability to design and implement strategic supply chain and operations models for companies, he was affected to the USA to ensure the development of the software company in the country.
That being said, it should be noted that 3YOURMIND’s adventure began 6 years ago in the Lab of the Technical University of Berlin. Despite the undeniable advantages of AM, the co-founders, Aleksander Ciszek and Stephan Kuehr, found that it was complex to properly handle a 3D Printing process, from the beginning to the end. Complexity lied then at the levels of pricing, design management, machine parameters and even material choices. In a nutshell, a real struggle for designers that couldn’t access printing capabilities available around them in Berlin.
“The first version of the software was a marketplace open to everyone, directly plugged in different CAD software, and allowing printed parts quick ordering. At the time, the “makers community” was the main driver of the industry”, explains Donnadieu-Deray, but Stephan and Aleks quickly bet on the B2B market, which offers much more opportunities. A choice they never regretted as the industrial market demonstrates a rapid growth of AM technologies but also highlights its most complex challenges.
Indeed, despite the benefits of AM, there are so many things that need to be mastered for an optimal use of all processes. The first step of the production being at the software level, it’s still quite complex for companies that begin their additive manufacturing journey, to know how to harness a software’s capabilities.
For 3YOURMIND’s USA representative, “operating 3D Printing technologies requires to handle quite complex data flows, and this complexity is a major blocker for scaling production capacities. 3D printing is arguably the most “data-driven” manufacturing technology. Large amounts of data points and formats need to be managed throughout the value chain, ranging from design management to costing, nesting, slicing, prints parameters, jobs scheduling, quality control and machines monitoring. This complexity often results in challenges related to repeatability of parts quality and limitations of economies of scale.”
3YOURMIND’s workflow software therefore aims to“bring all these steps in a single automated thread. Traditional ERP, MES or PLM software packages don’t offer the flexibility and the data granularity required by AM, and AM workflows software bridge this gap.”
MES functionalities alone are not enough
With the goal of bridging this gap between flexibility and data granularity, 3YOURMIND has developed its Agile Manufacturing software suite. The suite integrates various modules designed to enable the full-data continuity required in AM workflows.
Interestingly, the software industry also has its requirements which companies have to meet. However, just like AM technologies are not meant to replace conventional manufacturing processes, it should be noted the development of new software modules such as 3YOURMIND’s Agile Manufacturing software suite is not meant to replace traditional enterprise software, but rather strengthen their capabilities.
Furthermore, companies do not have the same level of maturity or will simply not integrate the same value chain of additive manufacturing. For this reason, company A might only use the Agile PLM module of 3YOURMIND’s software whereas company B might use another module.
“Some of our customers just need to handle a complex network of suppliers; they will only use our Agile ERP module. Others will only need to operate their inhouse print floors, in this case, the Agile MES module best suits their situation. Our Agile PLM module on the other hand, helps our customers to automatically identify suitable applications and build their digital qualified inventories. This module is a key solution to help companies identify best applications for production, decide on which technologies to invest in, and track parts data throughout the entire lifecycle. Our most AM advanced customers will use all these modules combined in the same platform. In a nutshell, to achieve data continuity, MES functionalities alone are not enough”, states 3YOURMIND’s Managing Director for the USA.
Addressing issues related to quality control
Quality control in a production floor involves a wide range of variables that should be taken into account to achieve the desired results in manufacturing. These variables include materials, printing technology, or even the part to produce. Each of these variables requires a certain amount of data, which can become quite confusing in the end.
For Donnadieu-Deray, two steps should be followed to ensure the quality control procedure:
- The first one consists in defining “the minimum viable data package to be tracked and processed through the software.” “Quality control starts with setting-up comprehensive digital repositories with all relevant parts, material, and processes properties. For example, our Agile PLM allows our customers to create very advanced parts data repositories and get instant pre-qualification feedbacks.”
- The second step consists in ensuring that the production processes comply with the qualification framework defined from the very beginning. “This requires full data continuity and highly configurable workflows. All relevant data points – simulation results, sensors data, material properties… – need to be tracked in the same data schema”.
Lastly, “quality control data need to be logged into continuous improvement cycles, and therefore be analyzed retrospectively. This requires advanced data linkage setup to track the main drivers of parts performance”, continues Donnadieu-Deray. To illustrate this statement, our guest in this Opinion of the Week, takes the example of a fabrication where powder-bed technology is the printing technology used. In such fabrication, every single stage seems to be linked with the next one. Put simply, Donnadieu-Deray explains that the result of the parts quality control needs to be linked to the powder properties of the used material batch. Furthermore, due to the defined laser path, they are also linked to the mechanical properties the part will acquire during the ordering process.
If 3YOURMIND’s software enables the creation of this continuity of data point throughout the value chain, Donnadieu-Deray outlines the lack of data standardization which is crucial to obtain a mature and end to end data linkage.
As a software provider, 3YOURMIND’s understanding of the additive manufacturing industry has enabled the company to sign several collaborations with industry players.
The current remote working conditions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have strengthened and increased interest for software solutions.
However, even though there is not a clear vision of what the industry will look like in a post-COVID19 world, Donnadieu-Deray strongly believes that companies will continue to look for suitable applications, create digital warehouses and benefit from distributed manufacturing. “This is not really a new trend, but the crisis will accelerate it and bring the supply chain disruption benefits of AM to the forefront of the manufacturing hype” he concludes.
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