For this blog post, I decided to go through an example of using Enterprise PDM to manage a process other than design lifecycle, change, or projects. I chose 3D Printing Job processing since we added Z-Corp and 3D Systems equipment to our portfolio recently. During the 3D printing submittal process the model is converted to an STL, named according to a standard numbering scheme, and sent to a person responsible for working the equipment. Other features of the process include calculating the print cost and capturing who and when submitted.
The Enterprise PDM tools to facilitate this process are the Convert Task, Dispatch, and a Workflow. The Convert task comes with EPDM and is often configured to create PDF archives when design drawings are released. In this application we are using the Convert Task to save the part to an STL file. Some configuration options include specifying a folder outside and setting permission for execution.
In our case, the file is stored inside the vault. This vault is configured to push STL files that land in this folder into our 3D Printing workflow.
Members of the engineering department can access the menu command associated with the task. There is no way to restrict the task menu command to not show up for non-SolidWorks model files. If someone chooses the wrong file type they will get an error. So a way of managing this is to create a group called SolidWorks Users and assign them to the task.
Once the file enters the workflow, an automatic transition is used to trigger a Dispatch script. This dispatch script renames the file with a serialized name from its card. The Dispatch script also prompts the user with instructions and opens the 3D Print Jobs folder.
The final tasks for the user are to fill in information on the card and submit it for printing. When complete, the 3D Printer operator replies back through EPDM that the job is complete.
This process for 3D printing provides a complete track record of the print with submittal and completion times. Files are organized in a centralized location with standard file naming convention. Even reports can be generated for analysis.
I hope you found this useful and it helps you think about how you could be using your vault for managing different processes.
Upcoming Topics (Feel free to comment on what you would like to hear about next):
- Project Management with Enterprise PDM
- Why use the Web Access for Enterprise PDM
We’re still working on the formation of the EPDM User Group!