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Klingenburg Enters a New Market by Repurposing Its Technology with Geomagic Design X
Every company looks for ways to leverage its core competencies to enter new markets. For Klingenburg, an air conditioning equipment manufacturer, that new market is marine propulsion. Moving air (in cooling systems) and moving water (to propel a boat) are very similar. Klingenburg has spent decades perfecting the former, and the company realized it could apply its experience to the latter, letting it enter an entirely new market by leveraging its existing technology. Using 3D scanning and reverse engineering technology from 3D Systems, it designed and launched the Prop-eye yacht propulsion system in record time.
Klingenburg makes a variety of rotary heat exchangers that are known for their efficiency and reliability. To design the Prop-eye, engineers at the company started with fan blades from one of these systems, and built and tested a series of prototypes propellers. Through a series of hand modifications, they built a final prototype that met all the necessary performance requirements. This prototype was then scanned with a very precise structured-light 3D scanner. The polygon mesh created by the 3D scanner was converted into a parametric CAD model using Geomagic Design X. The CAD model from Design X was used for further CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations, and to manufacture the Prop-eye’s blades.
In order to maintain Klingenburg’s high quality standards, all steps in the production of the Prop-eye were recorded in detail and optimized. A high-performance screw consists of four twisted blades which are mounted on a hub and an external rotor motor. Only the optimal matching of the blades to the other components of the internal rotor synchronous motor allows for powerful, quiet and efficient performance. The CAD model made in Design X is parametric, so it is easily edited to fit within the overall design of the Prop-eye system.
The Fastest Path to CAD – From scan data to a parametric CAD file
The blade itself is about 110 mm x 100 mm and is very complex in shape, with a variety of contours. The part was scanned within 0.1 mm tolerance. The surface of the blade is also smooth, and during scanning, special emphasis was placed on recording the clean, smooth surface of the form.
The polygon mesh created by the 3D scanner serves as a template on which a complete CAD model is designed inside Design X.
The first step in this process is to assemble the scan data using the Mesh Buildup Wizard in Design X. This wizard steps through aligning all the scans together, merging them into one mesh model, and filling holes of any areas not captured during the scanning process. Once the mesh is complete, the second step is to segment the model into different feature regions. This is done automatically in the software, using feature detection algorithms developed specifically for 3D scan data. The feature regions serve as a guide for the rest of the CAD model creation process.
The next step is to align the part into a proper coordinate system. This is a critical step, because an accurate alignment of the part to a global coordinate system will enable the model to be made with appropriate design intent. With the feature regions already defined, the engineer quickly extracts some model primitives (points, vectors, planes, etc.) and aligns the scan data appropriately.
With the part aligned, a series of cross sections are taken through the blade. Design X then generates sketches to fit the scanned blade within each cross section. These sketches are editable, and depending on the settings used, will either be made up of freeform splines or arcs and lines that are parametrically driven. Using arcs and lines has the advantage that the sketches can be fully dimensioned and constrained.
Each sketch is verified back to the original scan data using the software’s Accuracy Analyzer system. Accuracy Analyzer will show how much the sketch deviates from the scan, so engineers can minimize deviation while still applying design intent to the model.
The next step is to generate lofted surfaces using the sketches. A series of guide curves are fit directly onto the scan, and then surfaces are lofted to make an open surface model that very accurately recreates the complex shape of the Klingenburg blade.
To make the model into a finished solid body, the loft surfaces are extended, and then cut using planes fitted to each end of the blade. The final modeling step is to blend the surfaces together using Design X’s trim and merge functions. The blade surface and the blade ends are fused together, resulting in a parametric model of the original airfoil.
With the modeling process complete, the engineer uses Accuracy Analyzer to check for deviations from the scan data. If anything is deviating too much, it’s easy to correct the problem by editing the appropriate sketch or surface parameters in Design X. Since the software is parametric, the model updates immediately.
Klingenburg now has a fully parametric CAD model that can be exported to their in-house CAD software with a complete feature tree.
The strength of Design X was apparent to Percival when modeling the compound shapes and curves found in the hydraulic passages of pumps and power generation runners. The fully integrated CAD package in Design X saved multiple headaches and allowed for on-the-fly scan to CAD data comparisons.
Utilizing all the features in Geomagic Design X, Klingenburg was able to save time and money by creating a parametric CAD model of the Prop-eye blades. As the blade was being modeled they were also able to modify the CAD model for design intent purposes because they were creating a fully-editable parametric model of the blade inside Design X. Utilizing the Accuracy Analyzer they were able to check the accuracy of the model along the way. All of this resulted in a blade being created quickly and accurately.