On the Job: Software Makes Big Models Manageable14 Oct, 2004 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst
When you're charged with building a device to test, certify, and authorize the world's largest airliner, you call on equipment and software that can handle the enormous task.
That was the case for Airbus and FTI Engineering Network (Germany), which recently developed the A380 High Lift Test Rig (HLSTR, figure 1), a critical device of massive scale built specifically to test the Airbus A380, a 555-seat, double-decker airplane.
Figure 1. The enormous A380 High Lift Test Rig was designed and built to test the A380 Airbus, the world's largest airliner.
To visually communicate the progress and capabilities of the HLSTR to technical and nontechnical personnel alike, FTI Engineering called on Right Hemisphere software to create computer-generated animations and fly-throughs of the rig (figures 2 and 3).
Figure 2. FTI Engineering used Right Hemisphere software to animate special, complex sections of the HLSTR to convey their precise movement and function to engineers and nonengineers.
Figure 3. Reducing 3D CAD files to a manageable size while preserving the visual quality and integrity of that data was key to fully communicating the test system's unique capabilities.
Jens Strahmann, department leader High Lift Test, Airbus Deutschland Bremen, says, "Having the ability to animate special, complex sections of the test system -- like the inner middle outer flap with its Hexapod System -- is critical to convey their precise movement and function to a mixed audience of engineers and nonengineers. These HLSTR visualizations were originally created for the grand opening event. But we're still using them to communicate about the project with geographically dispersed Airbus personnel, government officials, and others. They help people to quickly understand the innovative nature of this new system."
The test, simulation, and project management experts at FTI were instrumental in creating the realistic representation of the HLSTR structure. Airbus generated the basis data using CATIA v4 engineering software from Dassault Systemes. In just a few days and using a combination of Right Hemisphere Deep Exploration and CATIA Module software, FTI reduced 1,800MB of CATIA data to a manageable 7.5MB in the Right Hemisphere format. Once the data was in the Right Hemisphere format, FTI could then create the animations and fly-throughs and even embed those animations into video and Microsoft Office PowerPoint for other communications needs. The whole process of reducing, converting, and importing data from CATIA to video took less than two weeks.
With these visualizations living beyond their intended use, Airbus asked FTI to make additional changes to them. Employing a new polygon reduction technology from Right Hemisphere, FTI reduced file sizes even further.
Ute Franke, head of the project control office at FTI, says, "Imagine the size of the structure which had to be built in order to test and certify the A380 flap drive system. It's enormous and took a year-and-a-half to construct. Without Right Hemisphere software to reduce those 3D CAD files to a manageable size and preserve the visual quality and integrity of that data, we would not have been able to practically or fully communicate the test system's unique capabilities to the disparate audiences."
Franke continues, "The Airbus HLSTR is an example of a hole that exists today in large industry documentation, visualization, and communication processes. With Right Hemisphere software, we see many opportunities to combine our expertise with theirs to fill this hole for manufacturers. We plan to start by using Right Hemisphere's software to streamline our internal technical documentation process."
FTI is currently using Right Hemisphere Deep Server, Deep Exploration, Deep Viewer, Deep Publish, CATIA Module, Illustration Module, and CADtools Module software. The polygon reduction technology is available in the latest version of the CADtools Module.