MCAD Tech News: 2D to 3D #10

12 Jan, 2005 By: Arnie Williams

Cadalyst MCAD Tech News

Competitive Advantage

Magove Moves to 3D — and New Automotive Business — with Alibre Design

For most of its history, since the mid-1960s, Tultitlan, Mexico-based Magove has relied on 2D design. From its drafting tables, the company moved to AutoCAD in the early days of that software and used it through Release 13. Though it started out manufacturing simple mechanical replacement parts, the company soon moved into designing custom machinery, robotic cells and quality-assurance equipment for the food and drug industry. But as Magove expanded into designing fixtures for gauging automotive plastic parts, the company found it needed to move beyond 2D to be competitive.

3D Helps Meet Customer Demands
In earlier days, Magove engineers took care of simple but necessary 3D tasks using workaround routines they wrote in-house, but the design and manufacture of gauging for fashioning plastic parts for automotive dashboards and door paneling could not be done efficiently in 2D.

Figure 1. These fixtures, gauges for the back door panel of a Volkswagen Beetle, were originally designed in Germany using CATIA software. VW Mexico wanted a set of features added to the original German fixtures, so Magove engineers imported the original design (shown in light yellow) to add all the extra details in Alibre Design (shown in different colors).
To be successful in this new business and meet the demands of its second-tier automotive clients, Magove head engineer Gaspar Acevedo knew the company required full-fledged 3D software. After first evaluating Autodesk Mechanical Desktop, Acevedo elected to give Alibre Design software a try, taking advantage of a 30-day free trial. Within the trial period, Acevedo was able to bring several mechanical parts to production, and he was sold.

Now all three engineers at Magove use Alibre Design, and the company has a firm hold on the automotive plastic-parts business. "The automotive plastics gauge design and fabrication we do now (figure 1) would be impossible in 2D," says Acevedo, "primarily because we are dealing with free surfaces. We don't even get printed drawings sometimes, just 3D CAD data for the glove box, door panel, and so on."

Better Client Communications
Acevedo applauds Alibre's use of STEP as its native file format, which lets the company easily exchange data files with its automotive clients who mostly use CATIA and Unigraphics software.

Magove also fulfills many requests for custom-designed machinery, which requires a great deal of back-and-forth with the client. The client communication benefits realized by moving from 2D to 3D can't be overemphasized, says Acevedo — especially with custom designs. "You need as much input as you can get from the client early in the design phase," he says. "Because 2D drawings are so complex to understand, it can take hours of review to comprehend what's happening. With 3D, anyone can understand what's going on in a matter of minutes."

The transition from 2D to 3D was made less painless for Magove engineers by Alibre's thorough online technical support, notes Acevedo. He says the tutorials included with the software give a very thorough grounding in 3D concepts and Alibre Design features, adding that nothing compares with one-on-one phone and online support direct from Alibre software developers.