Product Design

MCAD Tech News: 2D to 3D #16

13 Jul, 2005 By: Arnie Williams

Cadalyst MCAD Tech News

-->3D for the Long Haul

Victaulic selects Solid Edge for its short learning curve, easy transfer of legacy data

Victaulic had to make a tough decision not so long ago that would have a long-lasting impact on the company.

Headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania, the company has been developing mechanical pipe connections for the past 80-plus years. Considered the world leader in the design of piping-system solutions, Victaulic offers products serving markets such as automotive, biotechnology, fire protection, oil fields and plumbing. In fact, Victaulic's own victory joints played a role in the World War II D-Day invasion of France in 1944 by helping to move water and oil to the military front lines.

Moving to 3D
A long-time user of SDRC's I-DEAS software, Victaulic elected to move to an all-3D environment and needed to find CAD software that was affordable but also capable. During the company's trial look at various products, it considered SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, and Solid Edge. Solid Edge won out on the first round largely because it was the only product that allowed large-scale migration of I-deas legacy data into the product without significant data loss. But the deciding factor came when Victaulic bought a seat of Solid Edge, gave it to an engineer, and asked him to bring himself up to production-level speed without any recourse to training. Within a month, he was proficient on Solid Edge.

"Seeing how quickly our test engineer picked up Solid Edge, we sent out remaining design, manufacturing and foundry engineers to outside training," notes Wayne Biery, Victaulic's manager of engineering design. The engineering staff was up and running with the software within one week. Several who had previously only worked in 2D, Biery says, were much more efficient designers in 3D after the training. "With Solid Edge, being productive in 3D is easy even for part-time users," says Biery. "They can walk away from it for days, come back, and still be able to use the system."

Legacy Data a Great Concern
Data transfer was a high priority for Victaulic, as you'd imagine considering the company's long history and more than 31,000 drawing files to move. The transfer happened successfully on a part-time basis over the course of two months. The easy data exchange completely sold the company on the wisdom of moving to 3D with Solid Edge.

Victaulic engineers now use Solid Edge to design and model all the company's new products, tools and manufacturing fixtures, as well as its product-manufacturing machines.

"Many of our products are true families of parts," says Biery. "As pipe diameter grows, associated parts such as couplings, valves and fittings change relative to the change in pipe diameter." One recent product, the VIC 300 Master Seal, a high-volume production valve, was created ahead of schedule in spite of its complexity.

Real-World Results
Victaulic also used Solid Edge to design a complex production machine for grooving fittings. The machine has roughly 1,700 components, all modeled in Solid Edge. Within the assembly environment, engineers were able to use the constraints effectively while keeping up with parts-interference checks throughout the process. When the tool was assembled, there were zero fit issues to deal with.

Victaulic produces more than 16 million couplings a year, and these are in turn used to connect 160 million feet of pipe. Any gains in efficiency ripple through the company, generating cost and time savings. The company now considers Solid Edge its standard CAD modeling software and has adopted it for the long haul.