How can Autodesk manufacturing help smaller companies thrive

The first two decades of the 21st century have seen big changes in the manufacturing industry. Technological innovation has led to new manufacturing techniques and processes that have brought with them a range of benefits.
Smart factories are set to become the new normal. Smart factories use technology to create interconnected processes, data and AI-driven systems, and high levels of automation.
We are presently in a period of great transition, causing manufacturing businesses to face many challenges. For instance, many small to medium-sized companies may struggle to keep up with the pace of change. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the growing number of hardware and software products out there.
This article will make things easier for you by highlighting products in the Autodesk manufacturing range. Autodesk is a well-established producer of world-leading CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and modeling software. In more recent years it has branched out into the manufacturing side of the industry, too, with a range of CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) products.

Autodesk manufacturing – intelligent, connected, and versatile smart factories

Autodesk has been busy over the past few years developing and releasing software that makes the smart manufacturing processes used by the big manufacturers available to smaller companies.
Autodesk manufacturing software applications include machining, printing, fabricating, as well as testing and inspection tools. As of writing, there are 9 manufacturing products available which are listed below, along with a brief description of what they do and the benefits to small manufacturing businesses.
Powermill is a tool that is used for additive or subtractive manufacturing. It aids the programming and controlling of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines or 3D printers, allowing optimized tool paths, 5-axis machining, and the application of a variety of finishes to your part or product. Benefits include faster cutting speeds and an increased lifespan of tools due to optimized machining.
Specially designed to assist with CNC operations such as turning, milling and wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) cutting, FeatureCAM provides consistent results, as well as automating the entire process – from design to CNC machine programming.
Fusion 360
A unique piece of software that combines 3D CAD, CAM and CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) processes. This creates an interconnected product development cycle and fabrication process, all through a central cloud platform. Design teams can collaborate virtually and quickly adapt designs using a variety of sculpting and shaping tools.
Inventor HSM & HSMWorks
HSM CAM software comes with the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection, a suite of software that covers the whole manufacturing workflow. HSM integrates with SOLIDWORKS and Inventor, for more efficient 2.5- to 5-axis machining. It comes with dozens of features that save time, reduce tool wear and simplify machining processes.
NETFABB is pretty much the last word in 3D printing preparation and workflow management software. It’s ideal for small additive manufacturing businesses, especially those that make customized orders for customers, as the 3D design models can be edited easily, simulations can be performed, and surface structures can be optimized. It is great for cost saving as it has a collaborative printing feature which reduces wear and production time by distributing fabrication between multiple print heads.
This CAD package has been developed to assist in the manufacture of molds and dies, as well as other complex or intricate parts. It integrates well with PowerMill to create a complete workflow solution. Features include improved control of CNC machinery, easy repair of design faults from imported data and the ability to adjust complex surface geometry.
Compatible with most common measurement devices and sensors, PowerInspect can bring together different hardware in one central interface. The main benefit from a manufacturer’s perspective is that it integrates easily with CNC production, making the process far more efficient. Also, the adaptive fixturing tool saves hours often lost on long set-up times.
Ideal for small manufacturing companies that want to minimize material waste. TruNest will collect all the data needed from various part drawings and datasets and will schedule and nest the orders automatically.
If you use plastic injection molding in your business, then Moldflow is ideal for running simulations to improve and optimize design and manufacture. Cloud solving technology means that the simulations complete very quickly and geometry editing can be carried out directly in the software.

Stay ahead of the competition

There’s no doubt that Autodesk manufacturing is the best choice for small businesses that want to implement smart factory technology into their operations.
By combining the different Autodesk manufacturing products to suit your particular workflow, small businesses can accelerate production times, cut costs, provide a better service for customers and ultimately generate more profit and growth.

Ellie Rathbone

Social Media Marketing Specialist at Autodesk, managing all advanced manufacturing social channels across multiple platforms. Based in the UK.

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