MCAD Tech News (#298)3 Feb, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff
At LEMO, 3D Is Not an All-or-Nothing Proposition
Manufacturer of popular connectors finds DWG data is still critical for internal communication and fast delivery of custom designs.
By Jeffrey Rowe
Editor's note: Through a sponsorship by Autodesk, Cadalyst editors bring you this feature, part of a special series of articles that highlight the role of AutoCAD and 2D design in today's demanding CAD work flows. Watch for the next installment later this month.
There's no room for error in designing for LEMO, a brand well known for its push-pull connectors used in medical, industrial, audio/visual, telecommunications, military, scientific research, and measurement applications. Nobody wants a connector to come unplugged accidentally during a crucial operation, said Erik Gammon, engineering manager at LEMO USA, based in Rohnert Park, California. LEMO prides itself on making completely reliable connectors for applications in which safety and absolute performance are critical.
So, it's no surprise that LEMO relies on 3D modeling to provide the accuracy and analysis capabilities it needs — in this case, Autodesk Inventor. What might surprise you is that in an industry that today often touts 3D as the only viable approach to design, a company such as LEMO USA also still relies heavily on the 2D functionality of AutoCAD Mechanical to support its demanding work flow.
With approximately 110 employees, LEMO USA is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based LEMO SA. The company derives its name from that of its founder, engineer Léon Mouttet, originally a manufacturer of contacts made of noble and rare metals. LEMO sets the industry standard for quality with its push-pull circular connectors that range in diameter from 8 millimeters to 60 millimeters and some of which incorporate fiber-optic, coaxial, and low-voltage contacts into a single hybrid design.
Digital Prototyping in 2D and 3D
The development process at LEMO USA revolves around digital prototyping in an Inventor- and AutoCAD Mechanical-based work flow in which designers digitally design, visualize, and simulate products at every stage — from concept through manufacturing. In this work flow, LEMO uses AutoCAD Mechanical as a design and collaboration tool to draw and visualize connector and cable assemblies and communicate with its offices worldwide. LEMO also uses Autodesk Inventor Professional to design and analyze connectors, as well as Autodesk Vault to manage its digital prototyping and drawing files and Autodesk Design Review software to share, review, and mark up digital prototypes with internal teams and external customers.
This AutoCAD Mechanical drawing of a panel-mount socket connector provides all the specifications that customers need to incorporate the connector into their designs.
LEMO USA has used AutoCAD since 1994 and Inventor since 2003. It uses only the 2D capabilities in AutoCAD Mechanical, relying heavily on the software to leverage its legacy data — more than 7,500 2D drawings. This vast library of DWG data can serve as the basis of new and customized 2D and 3D designs, significantly accelerating the design process. Historically, LEMO USA has used 2D for customer-level drawings of connector assemblies with bills of materials (BOMs) and dimensions and for inspection purposes. The company can leverage the DWG format because it is universally accepted internally as well as by customers and suppliers. Read more »
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Jeffrey Rowe is an electromechanical designer with more than 30 years' experience in design, engineering, and manufacturing. He is the principal consultant of his independent firm specializing in design, engineering, technical communication, education, and business development. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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