Estimating the costs of parts and assemblies made from composite materials is challenging mainly because of the complex manufacturing processes that are involved.
Galorath Incorporated developed SEER for Manufacturing (SEER-MFG), a cost estimating and analysis application, to enable manufacturers to derive an accurate “should-cost” estimate for a part or assembly. Using SEER-MFG, companies can generate comprehensive estimates in hours instead of days or weeks.
SEER for Manufacturing lets companies evaluate the costs of manufacturing parts using different manufacturing processes. For example, they can model what it would cost to make a metallic part compared to making the same part from a composite structure. SEER-MFG enables them to get an idea of the cost difference so they can determine which process best suits their needs.
SEER-MFG was designed to enable users to evaluate process options and tradeoffs that impact such factors as ease of fabrication and assembly, number and availability of parts, materials selection, and failure and repair rates.
The composites-specific processes let engineers and analysts understand the impact of critical cost elements from design features and process parameters specific to the composites environment. As a result, designers working on new concepts can quickly see the cost impact of specific decisions.
Users can optimize their process strategies by performing extensive trade-off analyses – varying their assumptions and options to determine which manufacturing strategy is likely to produce the best outcome.
SEER-MFG operates at the manufacturing process level, allowing engineers to model composites using three different approaches, each of which has different levels of input and output granularity.
The standard Composites model estimates the costs of composite techniques that only require minimum inputs. This method is useful for quick, high-level trade study analysis. It lets users rapidly determine cost estimates for using a composite fabrication process, such as when they’re doing a quick comparison of using metal vs. composites or deciding whether they want to do hand lay-up vs. spraying.
The Detailed Composites model offers a richer, more flexible modeling environment than the standard Composites model and can be used for detailed trade and design study analysis. Engineers can describe in detail the shape of the part, including build-ups and cores, materials and resins, the material cutting process, the bagging process, consumable materials, hot-ply forming, curing, and trimming. Users can also model the tooling manufacture costs and the inspection costs using non-destructive testing techniques.
The Aerostructures model, is sold separately as a plug-in to SEER for Manufacturing and provides the most detailed and flexible modeling environment. It was developed in conjunction with the U.S. government, and aerospace industries; however, it can be used for any composite project due to the wide range of processes covered and the fact that the process models are based on time and motion studies for the process elements. Aerostructures includes Composites Operations (Hand Layup, Automated Tape Lay, Tow Placemnet, Filament Wind, Braiding, P4A, 3D Weaving), Cure (Autoclave, RTM, VARTM, E-Beam Assembly) Trim, Fitup, Fasten, Drill and more. Each of the elements are treated as a distinct work element type, providing a great level of detail and modeling flexibility
SEER-Ply Cost Estimator for CATIA V5
Galorath’s SEER for Manufacturing cost-estimating software is now interfaced with Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE platform via the SEER-Ply Cost Estimator
This interface allows manufacturers to use SEER-MFG from within the CATIA design software and enable fabricators to model and virtually test composite manufacturing processes and evaluate tradeoffs during the earliest stages of product design. The SEER-Ply Cost Estimator features composite part cost estimates for labor (set up, direct, inspection, rework), material and tooling.
The interface lets CATIA users employ SEER-MFG’s costing software for composite materials within the CATIA environment so they can get detailed cost estimates of composite designs from within the CATIA environment.
Companies that use Galorath’s SEER-Ply Cost Estimator within the CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE process can perform early trade-off analyses on the uses of various materials and composite processes during design, before they start manufacturing. They can then determine the most efficient ways to manufacture their products while meeting cost, performance, functionality and appearance requirements.
Additionally, as the design of a part changes shape, size, or materials, users can quickly rerun new estimates so they can understand the impacts of those changes on their costs. This reduces duplicate effort of re-entering data into cost models so users will know in advance what it will cost to produce that part.
Estimates are updated and refreshed as the design evolves, and users can save multiple scenarios for each part to compare and trade options – features that help the designers understand the costs of their design decisions.
Part cost estimates include ply placement, debulking, core prep and machining, panel layup, hot-press forming, curing (autoclave, resin transfer molding, or vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding), postcure trimming, finishing, drilling, nondestructive inspection, tool design, fabrication, preparation, and cleaning.
The built-in material and labor cost data can easily be customized to the company in the form of Manufacturing Environments. Other variables (e.g., the experience of the labor force and overall plant efficiency) can also be changed.
For companies that use SEER-MFG with Aerostructures for modelling composites, Galorath’s SEER-Ply Cost Estimator in CATIA can be used for:
- Engineering – to identify which design choices affect costs and by how much
- Purchasing/Manufacturing – to get an idea of what to expect from suppliers before asking for quotes or estimates (should-cost)
- Cost Engineering – focal point for the cross-functional discussion about cost to drive participation, especially from engineering
This SEER-Ply Cost Estimator interface is being delivered initially for CATIA V5. It includes fully customizable knowledge base templates and rules to create detail composite part cost estimates for labor, material and tooling costs. Galorath is working on integrating the same software into CATIA V6.