SolidWorks, ProE, Catia and every program capable of producing a digital file, are tools. Being tools, these programs have a potential. Realizing the fullness of said potential renders the acquisition of the tool prudent and profitable. Who, after all, is more worthy of handing a two thousand dollar set of wrenches and high tech hand tools, a child or a seasoned mechanic? The former has little grasp of what the tools do or what can be done to them, the latter should have so much experiential knowledge that he is able to do even more than the original designer of the tools envisioned. In this sense solid modeling programs have a potential. It is a potential that requires a mind well seasoned with experiential knowledge of manufacturing in addition to the many experiences, stored in memory, of generating geometry. The larger part of manufacturing deals with generating purposeful geometry, simple or complex.
When a human resource manager considers a company’s need for solid modeling personnel, the gravity of popular thought often focuses on the price per hour and adequate design ability, hoping by these two considerations to arrive at the all important end goal of strategic gainful employment completely compatible with the company’s product line. For many companies a superficial faithfulness to this principal is adequate, particularly those enterprises whose product line does not depend heavily on new concepts or new ideas, but is rather heavily accented toward efficiency and market demand and market share science.
Those companies, however, who serve the world’s markets with new products on a regular basis, might want to take a closer look at the “adequate design ability” part of the formula. A generic engineering change, involving size, hole locations etc., is a far different task than visualizing a complete product or assembly when a customer’s ideas are not quite complete or whose ideas (the customer’s) need development. In such an environment the lack of experiential knowledge results in the solid modeling professional agonizing over each decision and consuming a lot of expensive time.
Enter the “old” guy. He is quick at solid modeling like his young counterpart, but preceding the acquisition of his solid modeling skills was, in some instances, a quarter century of personal experiences generating geometry and applying various principles of physics. Together with the added years of solid modeling alongside the continued mechanical problem solving and idea perfecting, he has become a reservoir of great ideas. Said person rarely has cause to agonize over the next mouse click for the simple reason that he has oftentimes, long before, seen something or experienced something like the challenge presently in front of him. The “old” guy is as unlikely to produce a digital file that doesn’t work as Michelangelo was to produce something repulsive. He is as unlikely to author a digital model for something impossible to manufacture as Beethoven was likely to compose something impossible to hear. The “old” guy has become, over many decades, an industrial artist
What companies need from solid modeling personnel is value. Value translates into procuring a product ready to manufacture and in digital form, without paying for idle time. This need is often filled adequately by the conventionally trained fellow with good grades and excellent work habits. At other times the industrial artist is needed to get the project off the ground. On such occasions outsourcing the latter type of work or employing at least one seasoned professional is the best solution.
John Chabot is a seasoned craftsman previously engaged in a wide variety of high tech industrial endeavors. He is now dedicated almost exclusively to solid modeling. Visit his website, http://www.stjosephtool.com, where presently a few, of many more to come, solid modeling/inventing samples are illustrated.