Well, I’m not sure what all the technical details mean, but the idea, at least in the broad strokes, sounds promising. Those of you (and us) that have done some automotive work will know that sometimes problems come up in assembly after all the tooling is made, and they’re wonderfully obvious in hindsight but no one saw them on the front end. On the front end, of course, saves a *lot* of tooling money and time. Since most metal stampers make little or no money on tooling and make their profits in actual component manufacture, avoiding “doomed” tooling builds is a really good thing.
Expected to save Michigan automakers and suppliers $3.5 billion in lower body assembly costs over six years, the Digital Body Development System (DBDS) has passed its initial development challenges and will soon be deploying a beta prototype at a handful of tool and die shops.
Three years ago, an alignment of automobile and tool manufacturers, software developers and academia joined forces with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Advanced Technology Program on the nearly $11.5 million software project.
Originally estimated at $10.8 million with a federal contribution of $5 million, DBDS will enable virtual implementation of functional build through the integration of a dimensional and finite element simulation with an agent-based support system. In essence, DBDS will simulate newly designed automobiles and their assembly processes, and with the aid of artificial intelligence, allow engineers and designers to identify and solve problems before any assembly occurs.
DBDS was the brainchild of the Auto Body Consortium, now part of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor. CAR has long been focused on functional build, a manufacturing strategy that assesses design in the context of final assembly to lower engineering costs, said DBDS project manager Richard Gerth.
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