Building machinery can be complex. These systems tend to contain a plethora of moving parts, all of which interact with each other to accomplish a desired goal. As a result, even the best planning and engineering efforts can fail once the first prototype is built and tested.
Fortunately, manufacturers can take a number of steps to ensure veracity of a machine or system model before the first piece of budget is spent on actual delivery. With the right strategy in hand, design error scan can be prevented at an early stage to save costs and improve efficiency.
To get to that point, the key step is 3D animation. Animating your kinematic systems before and during assembly helps to understand interactions, point out inconsistencies or potential points of failure, and even selling the machine to key stakeholders before completion. More specifically, here are 3 potential use cases for building an animated model of your kinematic systems before production.
1) Understanding Machine Prototype Mechanisms
First, and most importantly, 3D animation can help you understand just how the machine and its individual parts will work, both in isolation and in concert. It’s a complex system, and one that cannot always be understood entirely with a simple, static drawing. Instead, the animation has to be flexible, both understanding its moving parts and showing them in interaction with each other.
Make no mistake: animating kinematic systems is unlike other architectural or engineering animation. You’re not just aiming to showcase an environment in action, but also looking to understand complexities that are otherwise impossible to estimate. In other words, input requires not just the overall motions, but also the individual calculations of expected actions and reactions.
In their treatment of complex machinery systems and the nuances require to animate them, researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Wyoming make an important distinction between kinematic and dynamic machinery systems:
For kinematic machinery systems, the reaction force problem is uncoupled from the motion problem. For dynamic machinery systems, the motion and reaction force problems are directly coupled.
That distinction underscores just some of the complexities that come with machine concept drawings and prototypes. An animated model will help to detect anomalies and inconsistencies early in the process.
2) Selling Kinematic Systems to Key Stakeholders
A secondary but still important use case of kinematic animation is the ability to conceptualize an otherwise abstract concept. Before the first prototype is built, it exists as an idea that can be difficult to visualize for anyone not involved in its development.
But that can present a sometimes significant problem. To build a machine prototype, whether it’s to designed to improve business processes or a final product in itself, the core stakeholders need to buy in. At the least, executive leadership needs to make a decision on whether or not to produce it. In some situations, shareholders and other entities are even consulted in the process.
In many cases these stakeholders are laypeople. Unlike the engineers responsible for the actual design and conceptualization, they cannot use mathematical equations and concept drawings to understand the veracity and benefits of the machine. They need to see it in action, which is impossible if a prototype has not already been built.
That is, unless an animation of the machinery exists. Complex systems sometimes require complex solutions, in this case a virtual model that showcases exactly how the final product will turn out. With this model in hand, buy-in becomes more realistic across and even beyond the organization.
3) Training and Assembly Directions
Finally, kinetic modeling through software animation can help your company in developing the actual prototype. In addition to catching potential calculation or motion errors, it provides an assembly road map that can save valuable resources as your machine moves from concept to first prototype.
This use case is especially relevant when considering the sometimes significant cost related to building complex machinery, and the standardization efforts typically involved in doing so. Because of its various moving parts, assembly has to be exact for each model built. Through 3D animations, those responsible for assembly can get a better idea of the individual steps and nuances involved to minimize errors in the process.
Finally, animated kinematics can be used for training purposes after completion of the construction. Anyone who uses the piece of machinery can benefit from a better understanding of how it actually functions. With that knowledge comes better operational skills and even trouble-shooting and maintenance.
The Nuances Required in Automation for Kinematics
In short, kinematic animation produces a number of benefits that range from first conceptualization to post-assembly training and improvement. To get to that point, of course, the model has to be built with a number of nuances in mind.
First, getting the details right is absolutely vital. As mentioned above, animating a kinematic system requires an exact understanding of all the individual parts involved. The animation itself will only be as good as the data input into the model. Get the right data, and your chances of a successful – and accurate – model increase drastically.
Second, software matters in this instance. A number of animation software possibilities exist, including most prominently:
• 3DS Max
• Cinema 4D
All of these platforms are commonly used in engineering animation, but not all of them are equally as proficient in managing data input and model output for kinematics. Only the right software can ensure reliable models that can be used for error scans and prototyping.
Finally, the modeling process itself needs to be strategic. From the environment conditions in which the machine will operate to the process of getting from concept drawing to finished kinematic animation, Each step comes with its own nuances that need to be considered to ensure success.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Kinematic Animation
Given the above details and nuances, it makes sense to not rely on your own internal engineering capabilities for any kinematic animation efforts. Instead, consider outsourcing the modeling process to a company experienced in the process and dedicated in building accurate, representative animations. In outsourcing your engineering animation, your organization will benefit from five major advantages:
- Reduced training and hiring costs, due to the fact that you will not need to hire an animator or train existing employees on software and processes.
- Quality work, which is especially crucial given the above-mentioned details and inter-mechanics involved in animating machine systems.
- Better use of human resources, allowing your existing employees to focus on their core area of expertise while relying on animation by specialized external professionals.
- Cutting edge technology, including the right software platform for your exact needs.
- A Competitive advantage, allowing you to pull even and ahead of your competition through better models and, as a result, better machine prototypes.
These benefits, of course, are only relevant if you find the right partner to help with your animation needs. That partner, ideally, needs to have experience in the space, and understand exactly what is required to model and animate complex machine systems.
We specialize in these types of kinematic systems. We understand the details and moving parts involved, and how the finished models can help to improve your prototyping and design process. The result is a significant savings in resources, and improvement in getting a prototype from first concept all the way to reality. Work with us to get started in maximizing your potential.