ICT in Product Design

From AQA AS/A2 Textbook - Chapter 6


CAD: Concept Development

  • working drawings and drawing sheets with scales + wire frame 
    • Wireframe: arc, line, points, very low memory files. No surface, so sometimes hard to understand. Fast processing
  • rendering, textures, finishes
  • easy to manipulate the angle of the image
  • finishes with no changes needed
  • simulations / checking aesthetics and sizing i.e. Wedgwood and 'virtual reality'
  • use archived patterns i.e. Wedgwood use old patterns from first pieces from scanners
  • repeated components cut, copy, paste
  • stored and shared through EDI
  • one bit changed / changes on the original file too


  • hand-drawn and scanned in designs for ease
  • modify existing shapes
  • use shapes from archive
  • place product 'in-situ' in virtual world
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CAD: Communication with the team

  • EDI files / transmitted easily
  • Drawing sheets can be interpreted by all
  • in-situ for client - lighting / textures / angles / 'tumbling'
  • calculate volume / weight / cost, etc
  • model updated in real time during conferencing

(http://www.adaptivenav.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/edi.jpeg) Electronic Data Interchange [EDI]

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CAD: Pre-Production Testing

  • check parts fit together in programme
  • wire-frame / x-ray
  • testing ergonomics
  • testing in-situ - Wedgwood: placed in the 'room' it has been comissioned for?
  • virtual reality + 'handling' products
  • tolerances can be accounted for
  • Finite Element Analysis: calculate stresses, strains and loads upon products

(http://faculty.washington.edu/nsniadec/ME478/S13/can.png)   Finite Element Analysis: Soft Drink Can

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CAD: Prototype Production

  • 3D modelling - significantly reduce the lead time to create a product
    • Lead Time: the time the customer has to wait to recieve the product after placing an order
  • CNC routers are exact / fast with small tolerance
  • CNC lasers are fast and exact too with small tolerance [0.25 mm]
  • Different types of rapid prototyping:
    • Layered Object Modelling [LOM]: plotter / cutter cutting out design layer by layer on thin card or self-adhesive film. Assembled like a 3D jigsaw
    • Fused Deposition Modelling [FDM]: ABS extruded out of nozzle onto a bed. Builds up layer by layer and solidifies
    • Stereolithographic Modelling: resin bath, when hit by laser it solidifies into shape of model


  • Use FDM with ABS filament
  • 24 hrs to complete
  • painted to appear 'glazed'
  • printed transfers applied
  • VERY realistic - faster than doing it by hand! 
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Virtual Reality Modelling [VR]

  • See and manipulate their designs
  • Photo-realistic environment
  • See and handle products
  • Useful for client consulation / specification analysis


  • use VR to plan production lines / layout
  • layout of cells
  • movement of workers
  • sequence of assembly
  • cost savings made
  • reduced lead time with effective production line

(http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8552511.ece/alternates/w620/5539812.jpg) Jaguar Production Line

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Computer-Integrated Manufacture [CIM]

Usually, design process is linear - passed from department to department. But, if it is not effective and people do not communicate - brief may not be met / hard to make / client unhappy

So - we need 'concurrent manufacturing': all the groups working on the design and development of the product work together right through till the end. 

Computers assist concurrent manufacturing: those working on the product would share marketing data, specification criteria, designs and development drawings over a centrally controlled databse

Database is continously updated - faster development of product and one that meets client requirements

CIM can also control production scheduling - timing and sequence of production operations

Management of stock levels for raw materials and component parts i.e. JIT around the factory

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Computer Aided Engineering and Manufacture

CAE: computers to model engineering problems and simulate conditions to see how they perform

  • test components prior to manufacture
  • i.e. test engines or suspension parts in cars
  • often supported by computer controlled test runs on small 'test rigs'

CAM: CAD files can be converted into CNC machines i.e. 5-axis drilling machine


  • block can be machined out to create very high quality moulds
  • used for slip casting - makes 'hollow ware'
  • locating pins for accuracy can be made
  • faster and more accurate than by hand

JCB: use CNC cutters to cut out steel sheets / CNC welding / CNC hydraulic presses   (http://www.hurco.com/en-us/cnc-machine-tools/machining-centers/5-axis-vertical/PublishingImages/5-axis-impeller.jpg) 5-axis milling machine

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3D Scanners

- Trace a series of points over the object's surface

- Builds up a 3D image

- Imported into CAD software + made into 3D rendered image

Wedgewood: use it to scan archive items to repeat patterns and shapes

  • Contact: probe touches the surface. CNC program driven so object is measured precisely and are used often for large items. Takes a long time
  • Non-contact scanners: most common type: use lasers to measure point. Often small, detailed items i.e. engraved, relief patterns. Accurate and very fast. Also, no risk of surface damage too

(http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/3-d-scanner.jpg)  3D Scanner Used to 3D Model a Head / Bust

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First Generation:

  • pre-set program
  • carries on regardless of any external change i.e. breaks eggs it is packing
  • soon obsolete / limited use now

Second Generation:

  • sensors / feedback information to a central computer
  • information is used to monitor situation and automate cell
    • i.e. robot collecting blanks from pallet needs to check
      • pallet actually has blanks
      • blanks are going in the right way round
      • blanks are pressed properly
  • commonly use digital cameras to identify these processes [live pictures can be compared to reference pictures] and can be stopped when problem identified

Third Generation:

  • sensors + computer programming = AI. Detect changes + modify own programme / stimulus
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Robot Configurations:

Beam Transfer:

  • simple / parallel slides or beams / x and y axes
  • pick up components from pallets and move them - 'pick and place'
  • i.e. car body panels and move them up the production line


  • most versatile - jointed like a human arm [shoulder, elbow, wrist]
  • joints + directions = 'degrees of freedom'
  • More freedom = more useful
  • 'hand' is known as 'end-effector' and can be changed i.e. screw, drill, cutter

Automatic Guided Vehicles [AGVs]:

  • fork-lift trucks no driver - carry items around factories
  • sensors follow wire buried below factory floor or on surface / using lasers which bounce off reflectors palced high on walls
  • lasers = robot can take three measurements and triangulate them - work out position
  • often work with JIT systems / move materials and components / collecting + delivering them
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How to programme a robot:

Teach Pendant:

  • remote control / teach pendant
  • operator guides robot around the floor through movements
  • stores and converts movements into a control programme [remembers it]


  • operator physically moves robot around factory
  • control programme records it into control program
  • good for 'training' robots in tasks like welding and spray painting


  • most common
  • virtual reality simulations of work cell 
  • robot programmed in VR and tested - prevents damage to robot and factory
  • used to rehearse dangerous operatons i.e. maintenance tasks in nuclear-power industry
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Benefits of Robots

  • mundane and repetitive tasks [loading + unloading]
  • physically demanding jobs / repetitive strain risk [lifting + moving heavy items]
  • okay in hazardous areas [spot, arc, welding, laser cutting, spraying or in nuclear inspections]
  • high levels of accuracy, consistency, quick [spot welding - multiple spots, fast, multiple times. Humans cannot do this at speed, consistently, accurately]
  • work for long periods of time without tiring - only stop for maintenance and can be self cleaning i.e. spot welders can clean their copper electrodes every few cycles
  • BMW use robots in their factory for some jobs after workers were falling ill with wrist and hand strains. Ergonomic issues of trying to press a water-tight seal into a door frame was damaging the worker, and therefore robots were used to aid them
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Drawbacks of Robots

  • poor mobility + lack of flexibility
    • humans can move freely between cells and do different tasks / robots require programming and may not be able to do the task / bulky and might not fit
    • require re-programming and re-tooled
    • humans can pick up different tools / skills easily
  • limited degrees of freedom
    • humans = tight spaces / robots can't. Humans - reach in car + fit dash / robots =  harder
  • high set up costs
    • VERY expensive to purcahse + dependent upon tasks, costly to run, program + maintain 
  • employment issues
    • replace labour / job loss / poor labour relations / workers need time to adapt to new technology too / need skills and willingness to use it / problem solve / use intiative


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