So, what is 3D virtual prototyping and what are the benefits for the electrical design process?
What is 3D virtual prototyping?
Virtual prototyping is a technique used in product development to create a virtual representation (often referred to as a digital twin) of a product or system. It involves creating a computer-generated model that replicates the characteristics and functionality of the actual physical product, to allow designers and engineers to evaluate the product's performance and design before any physical prototypes are built.
Crucially, where complex electrical designs are involved, it helps to identify potential issues, optimise designs, and make informed decisions early in the development process, reducing costs and time.
What are the benefits of 3D virtual prototyping in electrical design?
Virtual prototyping offers a range of benefits that significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of control panel design.
- Determining space in an electrical cabinet
Traditional 2D schematics often fall short of accurately assessing the available space within electrical cabinets, leading to time-consuming engineering challenges and unforeseen complications. By adopting 3D virtual prototyping, all electrical design decisions can be validated in advance of production to mitigate potential delays and ensure the cost-efficiency of the project.
- Improving accuracy in product assembly
The data from the 3D virtual prototyping also benefits the assembly and production stages. Innovative applications such as EPLAN Smart Mounting and EPLAN Smart Wiring can be utilised to assemble and wire the enclosure, while accurate data that is generated can also be seamlessly integrated into automated machinery, thereby minimising human error and enhancing precision.
- A Streamlined approach to engineering
The integration of 2D and 3D design applications optimises the engineering process, enabling seamless collaboration and efficient design iterations. Additionally, virtual prototyping helps to establish standardised design rules which ensure that engineers approach 3D models with precision to minimise errors and maximise accuracy.
In essence, virtual prototyping revolutionises product development by pre-emptively addressing challenges, refining assembly processes, and enforcing meticulous design practices for superior, cost-effective outcomes.
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Digital twin engineering provides increased reliability and availability, by creating a 3D representation which allows you to see any potential issues of a product – without the expense of producing a physical prototype. Changes can be made to a digital twin quickly and at very little cost, with improved collaboration between departments working on the project.
Not only does this benefit efficiency during production and testing, but the digital twin can also be used to reduce later faults. Some digital twin software for example, can identify important airflow gaps in an electrical enclosure which enables the product to last longer, and reduces maintenance and servicing costs for manufacturers/suppliers.
4) Increased Customisation And Personalisation Options
In some cases, customers can remotely configure their customised products using a digital twin application, saving your engineers valuable time, and shortening the approval cycle. This makes digital twin applications especially useful for businesses that solely or predominantly produce bespoke projects. Digital twin software allows a greater level of personalisation and customer satisfaction, at a reduced cost, while still adhering to tight customer budgets and delivery timeframes.
For more information about how 3D prototyping can eliminate mistakes and improve production outcomes, please download our free electrical guide ‘How To Avoid Electrical Mistakes Getting Through to Production’ or call us on 01709 704100.