Managing data for a typical manufacturing project can often feel like an information scavenger hunt. Let’s take a look at what it’s like to be on the shop floor and how Onshape can bring some sanity to the chaos.

To demonstrate, I’ve created a sample project in this Onshape Public Document, which contains:

  • A manufacturing assembly and work holding device.
  • The part, stock, and all associated drawings.
  • The tooling information and 3D models for G-code simulation.
  • The Mastercam file used to create the tool paths.
  • The posted G-Code file, and;
  • A video of the Mastercam toolpath simulation.

If you look at the screenshot of the assembly above, you’ll see a drive wheel for a fluid pump (the gold disc) held on a tombstone fixture with a vice. This example is a common manufacturing project that in traditional CAD would be broken up and stored in several different file locations.

This type of project can be very difficult to manage in traditional file-based CAD systems. If a user on the shop floor needed to view a portion of the project, they would need to search through the network to locate the information. In most cases, they would find several copies and iterations of the project and need to sift through them to find the correct version.

In manufacturing, you may have several operations and processes needed to make a single part. Managing all this data is tedious and involves many copies (OP 1, OP 2, etc.). All of these operations are stored on the network or a local drive as a copy. In most cases, the setup person will need to access this information to be as efficient as possible when machining the part.

How can you manage this better? Onshape!

Since Onshape is professional CAD and PDM built into one, you can organize your entire manufacturing project and CAD data in one single location, an Onshape Document. Think of it as a project-level container that gives you the ability to not only version control the CAD data, but also your manufacturing process data through versioning and branching.

Multi-Company Collaboration

I originally designed this project for a demonstration to show multi-company collaboration. From part design to manufacturing, my demo story goes as follows. I am a job shop manufacturing company with many CNC machines in house. My customer, Saulin Industries, has shared a part with me to produce. I am able to communicate directly with my customer through Onshape to discuss project details more efficiently.

We can easily exchange information such as scheduling, quotes for labor costs, or just general questions regarding the process. After the part Document is shared with me, I can tie the part into my process for the manufacturing.

Shared Part From Customer (Original Version)

Shared Part From Customer (Updated Version)

On my end, playing the role of the manufacturer, I need to choose my approach for how to produce the part. This approach includes what work holding device to use, the stock size, the CNC machine appropriate for the part, and programming the tool paths in CAM. When I am done producing the toolpaths, I can load the CAM project into the Onshape Document to store in a version or branch.

Now I have the entire manufacturing project in Onshape and can share this out to the shop floor for production. If an update is pushed from my customer, I am able to see this change and adjust my manufacturing project to suit. To do this, I can create a version or a branch and adjust my project to manufacture this part in the same workspace. I will need to update the CAM project in Mastercam (check out the Onshape Connect for Mastercam app) and after that is complete, I can load the new CAM project into the version or branch of Onshape that I just created.

Available in the Onshape App Store, the Onshape Connect App for Mastercam 2017 gives you direct access to your Onshape Documents from within Mastercam.

CAM Project Version Control

For version controlling the CAM project, I simply made a branch for OP1 and OP2 and loaded the corresponding CAM project into that branch. OP1 to branch OP 1 SIDE A, and OP 2 to branch OP 2 SIDE B. This is the beauty of a built-in PDM system!

In Development: Onshape PDF Add-On

Lastly, I’d like to give you an early peek at a new productivity application we’re developing that allows you to update your project setup sheet with one click as things evolve. The first tab in the Public Document is a setup sheet called “Onshape Cover Sheet.” It was initially created in Google Docs as a template and was pushed into the Onshape Document through this new PDF add-on.

Created by Onshape’s Lou Gallo – you definitely know him if you’ve ever visited the Onshape Forums – this add-on is designed for users to quickly include information such as setup sheets, pricing guides, project details and more, directly into an Onshape Document.

The add-on also lets you automatically create a QR code from a URL. These QR codes are tied to tabs in the Document and if you have a printed copy of the setup sheet, you can scan the code on any device and be immediately brought to the designated tab.

If you are looking at the setup sheet on a computer, tablet or phone, you can just click on the links to go straight to the Onshape Document tabs.

Whether they are navigating through the Onshape Document with QR codes or links, the shop floor setup person can now locate updated critical information quickly, efficiently, and securely. That last part can’t be understated. To better protect your intellectual property, only users who you have shared the Document with will have access.

Here’s a quick look at the QR codes in action:

Video Thumbnail

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think you would find this add-on helpful with your manufacturing workflow? Let us know in the Onshape Forums what you think about the app and how you would use it. Your feedback will help us determine how to best devote our resources.