Following the Digital Thread: A Digital Safety Net

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Techniques such as topology optimization can help design a product to be lighter, cheaper, and more durable — with the click of a button. But will the product work? That’s where engineering simulations such as finite element analysis (FEA) typically come in.

“Why would anyone paint a board and leave it in the middle of nowhere?” Because, arguably, the only way to know if the paint will last through two years of weathering is to put it through two years of weather.

The problem is, that approach is slow and expensive. We’d like to avoid such costly efforts if we can. But how?

That’s where digital simulation techniques come in. In this video, Mark and Jay return to the bell crank to test whether it is flight-worthy using the digital simulation technique known as finite element analysis (FEA).

The advantages of techniques like FEA include dramatically reducing the time and cost associated with product testing. And the time and money saved can facilitate deeper, faster exploration of performance limits for components and systems.

Results of advanced simulations such as FEA are captured and saved in the digital thread so that they can be accessed as needed in the future to potentially enhance the build process, inform smart inspection protocols, or even compare against actual field-use experiences. But how can such a unique-looking part actually be built? To see that process, the digital thread will move the design cross-country, at the speed of light, to its point of production.

What to watch next
Further Reading

M. Cotteleer, S. Trouton, and E. Dobner, “3D Opportunity and the Digital Thread: Additive Manufacturing Ties It All Together,” Deloitte Insights, March 3, 2016, accessed Jan. 9, 2018.

B. Tilton, E. Dobner, and J. Holdowsky, “3D Opportunity for Standards: Additive Manufacturing Measures Up,” Deloitte Insights, Nov. 9, 2017, accessed Jan. 29, 2018.

M. Vitale, B. Tilton, M. Conner, and A. Shah, “3D Opportunity for Scan, Design, and Analyze: The First Phase of the Digital Thread,” Deloitte Insights, Dec. 2, 2016, accessed Jan. 12, 2018.


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