25 November 2011
Al Dean first took a look at this system last year with the first release; he found an Inventor integrated system that brought design for manufacture checks - so what does the 2.0 release hold for the Inventor community?
When we first looked at Validus, it represented a design for manufacture checking system that looked at your Inventor parts, cross checked them against a set of standards and gave the user feedback on the state of the parts.
It told you if you had things like flat bottomed holes, checked your hole engagement, depth to diameter ratio, internal sharp corners and external fillets. Basically, it told you if you were looking at bad best practices (in terms of machinability) and gave you hints as to where extra cost might, unnecessarily, be stacking up in your part design.
But alongside these headline features, the system was also starting to take advantage of iLogic, Inventor’s knowledge capture technology, so it was possible to build custom checks to solve against internal best practices. And it’s in this area that the system has expanded the most in the second major release - so let’s take a look.
The system starts to work as soon as you open a part or start to design one (though it can be turned off and used when complete). You’ll see the new Validus section in the Browser to the left of the UI and, within this, you can see the checks being performed. There are three states for each check. It might pass (with a Green tick) but the more interesting one is the Fail state.
Flagged up with a Red Cross, this shows where things aren’t meeting your current checks. Here you have two options. Either you can dive in and see what’s wrong and fix it - in which case, the Check moves to the Passed state. Or, if you inspect it and find that, while it might fail company standards, it’s a required feature, then you can “Acknowledge” the fail. That decision is then tracked and maintained in the part.
What’s changed for this release is that the system doesn’t just do Design for Manufacture checks. Yes, those are still there, but the system has been expanded upon to now include many more areas.
There are four key new areas so let’s look at each. The new best practices checks will look for those types of features that aren’t needed, are left over during the model building process or those that are just a waste of resources. These include suppressed features, empty sketches, under constrained sketches and the like. The system will also look at drawing and find areas where dimensions aren’t correctly formatted, precision isn’t set to company standards, where title blocks aren’t filled in.
The system will also carry out checks on Inventor part, drawing and assembly iProperties. These are full customisable and could range from ensuring part numbers, descriptions are complete, or that materials are assigned. Finally, whereas. in the first release, the system only worked with part data, the system now has assembly support and assembly specific checking routines (basically to ensure that all the parts conform to the part-level standards).
Process integration with Vault
Now this is a pretty shrewd move by the folks at DMSi. While it’s good practice to have this type of tool available with any CAD seat, it comes into its own when integrated with a data management solution. In the Inventor world, that means Vault.
What Validus does is summarise the Validus checks which can then be reported upon using Vault’s standard search and report tools - it’s a simple case of searching for parts with a Check fail property then dealing with them. Using Vault’s search tools, it’s possible to quickly create reports that can filter out each check type. Whether you’re concerned with drawings that don’t adhere to company standards, or whether you’re more concerned with modelling best practice: They can all be searched on and each check type can be separated out, they can be searched on, quickly and efficiently.
I’ve seen quite a number of these types of CAD data quality management tools over the years, but never associated with the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) checks as found in Validus - and it makes huge sense.
The quality of your data can be judged on many levels. While the first release just took care of the DFM aspects, Validus 2.0 brings much more.
The point of the solution is that it’s possible to quickly analyse your parts (and now assemblies) and ensure that these adhere to your company standards and best practices - be those best practices related to drawing standards, modelling methodologies or indeed, how you define machinable components. It’s all there and worth investigating.