There is an increasing emphasis being put on the “Digital Thread” that is anticipated to impact manufacturing moving forward. This is the idea that all things related to part design, through manufacturing, and into use is represented by digital information that effectively represents the construction of a part. This will make the process and part smart as all information associated with the part is not only captured after the fact but more importantly, it, a priori, describes how the part will look and be manufactured.
The advancements of additive manufacturing will allow the impact of the industry migration to a digital thread. It is not uncommon to have geometries reoriented from default positions or have their layout impacted as a function of part post-printing and finishing needs to minimize the amount of support material used or to achieve maximum productivity. These downstream heuristics and the related decisions are often only considered after the part is fully designed and not part of a formal digital thread. Accounting for these heuristics during the design phase has utility. Implicit in the decisions being made is an impact on post-printing the part and removal of relevant support materials. However, these post-printing operations are not well suited to participate directly in the digital thread. With time, this is expected to change and how post-printing will participate in this framework is yet to be determined.
- Relate the digital thread to additive manufacturing in general and post-printing more specifically.
- Define areas where the additive printing is falling short in adopting the digital thread.