Engineers and product developers have long used digital tools to create drawings and 3D models. So far, however, virtual reality has been abandoned at the latest during prototyping. With digital engineering, that’s changing. New tools and the progress in Augmented Reality (AR) allow not only the modeling of virtual objects, but also interaction and iteration directly in augmented reality.
For industry, digital engineering technologies thus have the potential to make product development processes more efficient and less expensive. We explain what digital engineering means, what a digital product development process can look like and where digital engineering is already revolutionizing industry today.
Digital engineering is not a discipline in its own right. Even though degree programs with a focus on digital engineering already exist, there is no such thing as a digital engineer as there is an electrical engineer. Digital engineering affects engineering in every industry and refers to the use of digital tools, in the design of plants, machines and objects. In engineering, of course, some work has long been done digitally. CAD models in particular have played a central role in the design of complex devices and systems for decades. This makes the planning digital, but at the latest the prototype had to be built in the real world.
Digital engineering, on the other hand, promises complete digitization of product development – from planning, through the creation of 3D models and digital prototyping, to communication with the customer and the testing of various scenarios.
Digital engineering will play a decisive role in all manufacturing sectors in order to remain fit for the future as a company. Some industries are leading the way. The technologies that will become standard in the industry in the near future are already being tried out here today.
The fact that the automotive industry in particular is experimenting with digital product development processes and digital engineering is not surprising. On the one hand, mobility needs have changed significantly, both socially and individually. The challenges of climate change and changing customer needs are forcing the automotive industry to innovate sustainably.
At the same time, prototype development is expensive and time-consuming, especially in the automotive industry. A new type of vehicle must be elaborately manufactured by hand because the corresponding machines have not yet been built. To ensure that the major automotive groups do not lose out to innovative competitors entering the market, they are relying on digital engineering and Smart Factories to make their prototyping more efficient and less expensive through digitization and thus quickly bring new innovations to market.
The process industry deals with the extraction and processing of raw materials in technical, chemical and physical processes. Production facilities in this industry are complex, while the demands on the quality of the goods produced are particularly high: after all, companies in the process industry produce food and pharmaceuticals, among other things.
The process industry is experimenting with virtual twins here. A virtual twin digitally reproduces a real plant. By creating a virtual twin of a plant, the performance of a real plant can thus be compared with those of a virtually simulated plant. The plant twin is fed with real data from the IoT system. This results in realistic data that provides a basis for decisions on optimization measures for the real plant.
Digital engineering already plays a major role in plant design, because here, too, development and test phases are extremely time-consuming and cost-intensive. In addition, the processes and effects of the digital transformation are hitting the mechanical and plant engineering sector as if under a burning glass. This is because the changing requirements of customers and markets are being passed on by these companies to the plant and machine manufacturers. Project runtimes should be shorter overall, and complicated plant designs should ideally be modifiable at any time.
To meet these requirements, machine and plant manufacturers are making use of the possibilities offered by digital engineering. Innovative tools offer these companies complete environments for digitized development, including all the processes that follow development, such as communication with customers.
Would you like to learn about other areas of application? Here you can learn more about Augmented Reality and its application areas .
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Digital engineering has become relevant in the context of the digital factory. The digital factory digitally connects and interlocks all phases of product development and manufacturing.
Product development has been working with CAD files for a long time. Unifying and simplifying these files is very complex because different industries and companies have different policies and standards regarding the production of CAD files.
ALEGER provides you with a tool that allows you to display CAD files in a development environment, modify them and visualize them in an AR environment.
ARES is the Augmented Reality Engineering Space to display your CAD files in AR. Here you can manipulate objects according to your requirement. Basic functions are for example: scale, rotate, offset and set a cross section. It is also possible to load multiple CAD files and render them in real time. Furthermore, the meeting function is also provided in the Digital Engineering Space. Thus it is possible to add other participants to your AR meeting.
ISAR stands for Interactive Streaming For Augmented Reality and is used for large CAD files. This concerns complex models with a very high number of polygons and components. The advantage for you: Your constructions and designs can be reproduced WITHOUT data loss and true to scale.
Companies can only exploit the full potential of digital product development if they succeed in standardizing different data bases and design methods within a project. The transfer and display of design drafts in an AR environment are thus the basis for simplifying complicated processes in industry, from prototyping to factory planning to quality control.
Digital prototyping or optioneering is about systematically exploring different design options to find the best solution to the underlying problem. With AR technology, engineers can quickly and easily test different models directly in virtual reality and compare them against different parameters.
With ALEGER as a strong partner of SyMSpac, you get a development environment that equips your employees with all the tools to establish digital product development in the company. The central product development platform consists of three areas that are networked with each other:
The models created in this way can then be used in an AR environment with appropriate hardware be brought to life. A pair of data glasses like the HoloLens 2 from Microsoft in conjunction with a Stylus XR from Holo-Light thus allow millimeter-precise interaction with the visualized object directly in augmented reality.
In our store you will find the best AR hardware on the market.
By simply linking modules and development tools, many processes in development can be automated. Instead of starting from scratch each time, you simply change some variables and get direct feedback on how the adjusted design behaves. You can flexibly allocate the necessary computing power for complex simulations. Depending on the priority, they thus allocate local computing power or use external cloud services. Digital product development is thus scalable at any time and does not cause unnecessarily high costs for maintaining a digital infrastructure, nor does it cause delays in the development itself.
One of the key potentials of digital transformation in industry lies in the digitization of product development. It promises not only to be able to map ever more complex plants in the first place, but also to make development more efficient overall. Solutions are already available today that enable industrial companies to digitalize their product development to the greatest possible extent. Hardware in the form of data glasses such as the Microsoft HoloLens 2 are nowadays also capable of mapping reality virtually and making it accessible to the user.
Of course, you can buy the best smart glasses at ALEGER. We will also be happy to advise you on the selection and areas of application.
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Get excited about the features of the Digital Engineering Platform.
With ISAR (Interactive Streaming for Augmented Reality) you can render your CAD files remotely and stream them directly to the output device. This way you will not lose any valuable data!
Bring project members, customers and suppliers, LIVE to your meetings in augmented reality even though they are not in the same location.
Edit your AR CAD files the way you want. No matter if rotate, scale, move, rotate, take a cross section, etc..
No matter if classic STEP files, or other CAD file formats like . sldprt, 3D . dwg, . catpart, etc. With the Digital Engineering Platform you display all files in AR.
Display multiple files side by side. Make before and after comparisons, or extract individual components from the CAD file tree.
Set static reference points in the real world using QR code or image tracking. Application examples can be found, among others, for training and education of manual work processes.