Industrial machinery manufacturer Sparkonix uses Teamcenter Rapid Start to reduce design time by 25%

Product: Teamcenter
Industry: Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment

Sparkonix implements PDM quickly to help designers significantly decrease time spent searching for storing and retrieving data

Corralling data

Sparkonix India Private Limited (Sparkonix), which was established in 1968, is a leading manufacturer and exporter of electrical discharge machining (EDM) equipment. The company also produces special-purpose EDM drill machines and metal arc disintegrators, which are used to remove broken taps and drills. Furthermore, the company engineers a range of innovative solutions in steel rebar branding and handling, and construction technologies.

Sparkonix machines typically include hundreds of parts, from fabricated and machined parts to castings, sheet metal, electronics and electrical items mounted directly on mechanical assemblies. Its market is the die and mold industry and special purpose machine (SPM) and special purpose drill (SPD) EDM operators.

Sparkonix uses Solid Edge® software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software for computer-aided design (CAD). However, the company was finding it difficult to manage a rapidly expanding amount of design data.

“The amount of CAD data was growing and we needed to manage it better so that no unnecessary duplicates would be created,” says Anand Atole, assistant manager of Design at Sparkonix. “Being able to re-use design data to speed up work was a priority. Also, the number of users accessing data was increasing and we required control of user workflow, so we needed revision management.”

Speeding up the process

Sparkonix is in a highly competitive market, so the company needed to come up with new concepts and designs. The company was intent on improving its existing products and processes without compromising quality. Achieving this while keeping costs in mind was a big challenge, as was meeting deadlines for deliveries of customer orders and providing updates to marketing on changes to designs.

With these challenges delaying the design-to-delivery process, the company knew it needed a solution that would enable it to move significantly faster, especially with customer demand continually increasing.

Sparkonix previously had a central location for data, but it could not be easily searched. Equally frustrating, Sparkonix was unable to reuse the data. In addition, it was hard to avoid creating duplicate data, and anybody could access it. What Sparkonix wanted was total control of its design data, with ease of access, the ability to readily re-use the data and strong security.

Streamlining design data

Sparkonix found the answer to its information management challenges in Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Teamcenter® software Rapid Start configuration.

“By choosing Teamcenter Rapid Start, we have a central repository for design data with strong management capabilities,” says Anand. “We can search our database for required information to use and re-use parts and assemblies.

“Now we are able to efficiently manage product revisions. We can control the access rights to data based on user type, and share updated data easily and immediately. As a result, we have moved to more controlled paperless operations for the design department. Earlier, we had to do manual paperwork to maintain data that is now being handled by our PDM software,” says Anand. Currently, Sparkonix is using Teamcenter Rapid Start to provide design data to purchasing, sales and support. People can view documents and designs in Teamcenter Rapid Start, because the embedded visualization capabilities present designs in CAD-neutral JT format for viewing and markup. Stakeholders don’t need access to CAD applications to collab-orate and get the information they need to make the right product decisions.

“Ultimately, Teamcenter Rapid Start has enabled us to streamline design data and make it available to all for reuse, from design to sales and support. Designers can now concentrate on design rather than on storing, searching for and retrieving data. We have reduced design time by 25 percent.”

Getting into production quickly

Sparkonix opted for Teamcenter Rapid Start because it wanted to get up and running quickly and immediately apply PDM best practices for data and process management. What’s more, the company wanted an affordable option suited to its small business profile.

Teamcenter Rapid Start provided the PDM capabilities Sparkonix needed at a compel-ling price, while giving the company the option to grow into a full-scale PLM implementation at any time. Because Teamcenter Rapid Start is a preconfiguration of Teamcenter, Sparkonix can extend its implementation to PLM while retaining the preconfigured menu options and processes for PDM.

Following the standard PDM deployment methodology and best practices, Sparkonix implemented Teamcenter Rapid Start in just four weeks, taking two days to train its users. The company can easily upgrade with each future release, noting that it takes minimal information technology (IT) expertise to support and maintain the system.

Trimming inventory

Among a long list of examples that demonstrates the software’s advantages, the company is using Teamcenter Rapid Start for the pipes its uses to connect pumps and filters. “With Teamcenter Rapid Start, we are able to get an idea about the different sizes of pipes that are being used,” says Anand. “Then we can decide to limit variations of pipe lengths and settled on some common sizes, so now we avoid maintaining excess inventory.”

Using the preconfigured processes in Rapid Start – such as design review, supplier design exchange and change management workflow – Sparkonix can streamline and better track project status.

Utilizing support

From the start, Sparkonix had the support it needed to succeed. “Our software partner helped at each stage of the implementation process to get us working quickly and effectively,” says Anand. He notes, “Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Global Technical Access Center (GTAC) is always there to help us out with any matter in which we desire assistance.”

IHC Handling Systems improves virtual prototypes and ultimate quality of offshore equipment; tight integration of Simcenter Femap and Solid Edge makes it possible

Product: Femap, Simcenter
Industry: Consumer Products and Retail

With Simcenter Femap, company increases re-use of proven designs, boosting productivity and decreasing costs.

The need for virtual prototypes

In the offshore industry, operational certainty is one of the most important requirements. The installations are large and the investments are high. Virtually everything is unique and leaves little room for error. As a supplier of tools for the installation of offshore equipment, IHC Handling Systems v.o.f. (IHC Handling Systems) is very familiar with the market. Functionality and quality must be validated prior to production. Virtual prototypes are the only way to ensure this.

IHC Handling Systems is part of IHC Merwede, a world leader in the dredging and offshore industry. IHC Merwede’s products include dredging vessels, equipment and components, as well special-purpose vessels and technology. IHC Handling Systems focuses on products for oil, gas and wind, such as equipment for pipe laying, equipment for the installation of oil and gas rigs and equipment for the installation of offshore wind mills.

Quick response and communication

In order to lay pipelines on the seabed or put piles of windmills upright, the thin-wall, tubular pipes need to be picked up by grippers. These are metal clamps that are placed on the inside and outside of the tube. The force with which the clamps grip the steel enables the lifting of the product. For the leveling of oil rigs, IHC Handling Systems provides equipment to establish a temporary connection between the seabed construction and the jackets on which the platform rests. Most of the products produced are project-specific. IHC Handling Systems usually has an early involvement in new offshore projects. “Customers approach us because of our reputation and experience,” says Cor Belder, concept engineer at IHC Handling Systems. It is important to have certainty about the concept solution in an early stage. A quick response to customer demands and communication are essential. “At the same time, we also want to offer functional certainty. That can only be achieved using advanced and integrated design tools.”

Lower cost of software

A few years ago, IHC Handling Systems purchased licenses of Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Solid Edge® software, a comprehensive hybrid 2D/3D computer-aided design (CAD) system, and Algor® Simulation software (which is currently owned by Autodesk and is offered under the name Autodesk® Simulation Mechanical) for finite element analysis (FEA). Both solutions were bought through Bosch Engineering, a Siemens Digital Industries Software partner. “Together with a sister company in the IHC Merwede group, we were forerunners in using Solid Edge,” says Belder. “Algor worked nicely together with Solid Edge, and data transfer between the two applications allowed for quick analysis of design alternatives.” But in a recent reassessment of the computer-aided engineering (CAE) applications, Belder saw room for improvement, specifically in the areas of data integration, meshing and programming.

“Early on in the evaluation, we developed a preference for Simcenter Femap,” says Belder. “Simcenter Femap offers a significant improvement in functionality over Algor at lower software costs. We want to spend our time on the evaluation of alter-native designs and don’t want to lose it over issues related to data transfer. Simcenter Femap and Solid Edge are tightly integrated, which saves time and reduces risk.” Belder notes that in addition to the robust geometry exchange, the mesh is more constant and allows for better local refinement.

Fast iterations

In a typical project, the concept engineer develops new models or combines and re-uses existing ones. “Concepts are almost always modeled in Solid Edge,” says Belder. “In the early stages, these are simplified designs focused on functionality, but ready to be used in preliminary CAE analyzes. The integration of Simcenter Femap and Solid Edge allows for fast iterations in this concept phase.” These functional concept designs are also used for client communication.

IHC Handling Systems uses both the linear and the nonlinear functionality of the NX™ Nastran® software solver embedded in Simcenter Femap™ software. The linear functionality is used for all static calculations as well as for contact analysis. Contact analysis is often used for designing lifting tools, where steel friction pads are pressed on the inside and outside of the pipe or pillar using hydraulic cylinders. The nonlinear analysis is used for the calculation of the friction between the steel pillar and the friction pads. This friction is the basis of the grip needed to lift the pillar or pipe. The amount of friction is defined by the pressure exerted on the cylinders. At the same time, the pressure should not lead to deformation of the pipe. “These are complex calculations taking up to 20 hours,” notes Belder. “We need to find the technical and economical optimum, in other words, the functionality must be ensured at the lowest cost possible. We take the calculations to the elasticity limit of the material.”

Re-use of proven designs

The re-use of meshes and load cases saves IHC Handling Systems a lot of time, especially in projects where existing concepts can be used, even though there may be many possible variations. An example is the upending tool that is used for lifting pillars. Upending tools must be able to handle many different diameter/wall thickness combinations and must be able to pick up pillars with diameters up to 6,000 millimeters. The customer specifies the diameter of the pillar and the lifting capacity of the available crane. To find the most economical solution, the engineer would traditionally select variants and perform the necessary calculations. This implies that, for every variant, the generation of the mesh and the application of the load case are required to perform a single calculation. The geometry of the variants differs too much to re-use the mesh and load case.

Using the programming capabilities of Simcenter Femap, the CAE model can be configured and generated automatically, for example, from Excel® spreadsheet software, including the mesh and the load case to be analyzed. Moreover, programming with Simcenter Femap is easy to learn. “Using the traditional way of working, we would be able to analyze only three combinations a day,” says Belder. “Programming in Simcenter Femap saves us a significant part of the time needed for modeling, meshing and applying the load case. The preparations can be reduced from hours to minutes. We can respond much quicker to changing customer requirements.” According to Belder, building the application of the upending tool took, all in all, no more than a week: “The investment has already paid for itself, because we always need to do calculations in projects for upending tools, which we use often in our projects.”

The goal to work better, faster and more cost-efficient using Simcenter Femap has been achieved. “We were satisfied with the engineering tools we had, but there is always room for improvement. Using Simcenter Femap allows us, better than ever before, to serve our customers with our experience and quality,” concludes Belder.

Rapid Diagnostics Device Developed Using Figure 4 Standalone

Product: DLP Print
Industry: Electronics and Semiconductors

The sudden and alarming global rise of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of accessible and rapid disease detection. The ability to test for disease not only enables better containment to prevent further spread, but enables epidemiologists to gather more information to better understand an otherwise invisible and mysterious threat. From revealing means of transmission to rates of infection, the criticality of testing for infectious diseases has now been felt worldwide.

A team of researchers at Imperial College London, led by Dr. Pantelis Georgiou, is tackling this problem head-on with a project called Lacewing for pathogen detection. Offering results within 20 minutes from a smartphone app synced to a cloud server, Lacewing makes disease testing portable, including SARD-CoV-2-RNA, and automates the tracking of disease progression through geotagging. It is a sophisticated “lab-on-a-chip” platform that promises to fill the access- and information-gaps in the world of diagnostics by combining molecular biology and state-of-the-art technology. Whereas other diagnostics technology requires large and expensive optical equipment, the electrical sensing method and small size of Lacewing is a true evolution in approach.

Key among the technologies behind Lacewing is 3D Systems Figure 4® Standalone 3D printer and biocompatible-capable, production-grade materials. Used for both prototyping and production of microfluidics and functional components, Imperial College PhD student and research assistant Matthew Cavuto says key Lacewing components were designed based on the capabilities he knew he had with Figure 4. “Microfluidics are a tricky thing, and fabrication has traditionally been done through slow, expensive, and labor intensive cleanroom processes,” says Cavuto. “With the Figure 4, we’re now able to rapidly print parts with complex internal 3D fluidic channels for transporting sample fluid to different sensing areas on the chip, greatly improving our microfluidic production capabilities.”

As critical as the design element is to this project, it is just one piece of a highly sophisticated solution. Beyond the part complexity and detail fidelity enabled by 3D Systems’ Figure 4, this 3D printing solution has helped the research team through print speed, print quality, and biocompatible material options.

Microfluidics cartridge for Lacewing diagnostics device 3D printed using Figure 4

Quick iterations to answer the need for COVID-19 testing

The Lacewing platform has been in development for a little over two years now, and is a molecular diagnostic test that works by identifying the DNA or RNA of a pathogen within a patient sample. This type of test makes it possible to determine not only if someone is infected with a certain disease (dengue, malaria, tuberculosis, COVID-19, etc.), but to what degree, which provides more insight into the severity of the symptoms.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the impetus for this test was to enable portable testing in remote areas of the world. Although portability is often taken for granted in a smartphone age, molecular diagnostics have traditionally required a large and expensive pieces of lab equipment. Lacewing has replaced the previous optical technique with an electrical one using microchips, and has been quickly prototyped, iterated, and produced using the Figure 4 Standalone and biocompatible materials. Each Lacewing microfluidic cartridge is roughly 30 mm x 6 mm x 5 mm, printed in 10-micron layers.

As the research team began adapting the test to answer the global testing needs of COVID-19, it started printing new designs almost daily. For this, Cavuto said the speed of the machine was a major benefit. “At one point, I was able to print and test three versions of a particular component in a single day with the Figure 4,” he says. This ability to rapidly iterate designs has removed the friction of trying something new, and the resulting experimentation and increased information gathering has led to improvements in the overall system. “We’ve easily gone through 30 versions in the last 2 months,” says Cavuto.

The team designs all its parts in SOLIDWORKS, and uses 3D Sprint® software to set up each build. 3D Sprint is an all-in-one software by 3D Systems for preparing, optimizing, and managing the 3D printing process, and it has been useful to the research team in finding and resolving unexpected issues. “Occasionally we’ll get an STL error that 3D Sprint can solve for us in the prepare tab,” says Cavuto. 

Having worked with many different 3D printers in the past, Cavuto says Figure 4 is different because there are less barriers to printing in terms of time, cost, and quality. With other printers, he would question whether a print was worthwhile in terms of both time and material cost, whereas Figure 4 has removed that friction. “I print a part, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, I redesign and print again just a few hours later,” says Cavuto. “I’m able to iterate super quickly just because of how fast the printer is.”

Truly biocompatible materials do not inhibit chemical reaction

 Microfluidics cartridge 3D printed in Figure 4 MED-AMB 10

Despite the time pressures for rapid testing options, speed was not the most important factor for the research team. Because this application comes into direct contact with DNA, it is only possible with certain biocompatible materials.

The Imperial College team is using Figure 4® MED-AMB 10, a transparent amber material capable of meeting ISO 10993-5 & -10 standards for biocompatibility (cytotoxicity, sensitization and irritation)*, and that is sterilizable via autoclave. This material is used for the translucent microfluidic manifolds. “Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 has shown impressive biocompatibility for our PCR reactions,” says Cavuto. “A lot of materials we’ve tried in the past have inhibited them, but Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 has shown low interaction with our reaction chemistry.” This is critical to the entire project, as any interference by the production materials could delay or prevent the intended reaction from happening.

Using Figure 4’s diverse portfolio of materials

Not only is the team using Figure 4 MED-AMB 10 to print the microfluidic components for Lacewing, but they are also using Figure 4® PRO-BLK-10, a production-grade, rigid, heat-resistant material, for the device enclosure, and Figure 4® RUBBER-65A BLK, a newly released elastomeric material, for gaskets through the device.  One part of Lacewing is even made from Figure 4® FLEX-BLK 20, a material with the look and feel of production polypropylene.  Besides the electronics and some hardware, nearly the entire device is currently produced using the Figure 4 system.  

Fully cleaned and post-processed in under 20 minutes

A clean and smooth surface is critical to the final functionality of the Lacewing cartridges. For this reason, the research team is foregoing any nesting or stacking capabilities of Figure 4 to print the cartridges in single layers. As the project is still in the design phase, the team has not yet fully loaded the build plate, but estimates a maximum build of approximately thirty microfluidic cartridges at a time.

Given the sensitivities of the application, post-processing is critical. Once printed, parts are washed in an IPA bath, cured, sanded, and washed again to ensure the parts are all free and clear of residue or sanding particles. “We want to avoid contamination at all costs,” says Cavuto. “Making sure the parts are clean and sterilized is important for a successful reaction and accurate diagnosis.”

In total, Cavuto estimates that post-processing takes under twenty minutes, and many parts can go through the process at once.

Rapid diagnostics device developed using Figure 4 technology at Imperial College London

New capabilities for development and innovation

“Figure 4 has changed what I can print, or what I think I have the capability of creating,” says Cavuto. “In terms of resolution, speed, surface quality, range of materials, and biocompatibility, there’s nothing that compares to Figure 4, and I’ve probably used every type of 3D printer you can imagine.”

The Imperial College research team plans to have the COVID-19 test validated soon with the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), paving the way for scaled production within the next six months. For a complete look at how Lacewing works, explore this information page by the Imperial College research team.

Re-watch our 1st Virtual Symposium: Digital Metrology 4.0

On June 23, our 1st Virtual Symposium on Digital Metrology 4.0 “How to face your inspection challenges” was held. A live event where we had the opportunity to talk with experts in metrology.

We started the event with a panel of experts answering the main questions of the industry, and we continued with 3 conferences by the hand of experts

  1. Optimize fixtures and templates using 3D printing for your ideal measurement.
  2. Addresses New Challenges with Digitalization for Metrology
  3. Synchronize your Quality, Manufacturing and Engineering Teams and Maximize their Value

You can now re-watch the lectures:

Thanks for joining us, see you soon.

Testimonial AT Engine

The original decision to work with Goaltech was made based on formerly cooperation between Altaser and Goaltech. As far as I am aware of, Goaltech had been proven to provide good prices compared to other options. We continue the cooperation still today because Goaltech´s customer service is very good. In my opinion, we always get a professional and full of knowledge answers to our problems. I also like the very realistic and humble, not annoying way of maintaining the business relationship. If we need something we are always attended quickly and with high commitment.

Eva Rohden – AT Engine

Join us in our 1st Virtual Symposium

Digital Metrology 4.0: How to Face Your Inspection Challenges

🗓️ Wednesday, June 23, 2021
🕛10:00 – 13:00 (CT Time Zone)

-Participation of leading brand experts
-4 conferences related to Digital Metrology
-Aimed at engineers and manager of Metrology and Quality
-Includes proof of participation
-Limited space 50 people online *no cost

Reverse Engineering an Impeller Made Easy with Geomagic Design X

Product: Geomagic Design X
Industry: Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment

When small business owner Matthew Percival of 3D Rev Eng was contracted by Dependable Industries, a pattern and tooling shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, to assist in the reverse engineering of a power generation Francis Runner casting, the full power of Geomagic Design X was put to the test.

Percival had a very finite, one-day window of time to 3D scan the part. There was no drawing to confirm against, so he had to be able to work quickly and accurately. The working runner that was being reversed engineered was on its last repair cycle and needed to have a replacement casting ready in one year. The scan data was acquired in about four hours using a hand held scanner.

The deep narrow pockets of the hydraulic passages limited the scanner’s range and made complete data acquisition impossible. With about 85% of the part scanned, Percival knew he had enough to make a complete CAD model using the software from 3D Systems.

Percival scanning the Francis Runner casting.

CAD model using the software from 3D Systems.

“For me, Design X is the obvious software choice. The ability to generate solid models directly on the scan data is priceless.”

-Matthew Percival of 3D Rev Eng

Using the data live on site, Percival was able to create sketches and smooth lofted surfaces between the two sides of the acquired data and conform it to the casting using hands on methods in Geomagic Design X. Doing this revealed a number of interesting details to the customer:

  • The center axis of the impeller was no longer square to the
  • vanes which results in an unbalanced and inefficient part
  • The cast surfaces were badly worn and out of typical tolerance
  • The volume of each cavity was inconsistent

Design X easily overcame these issues. Percival was able to generate sketches on the blade, as well as an accurate smooth surface that he could revolve around the extracted revolution axis. The surface was then trimmed to match the profile and revolved to obtain the proper count of blades. Comparing this data live with color deviation maps to the scan data, Percival was able to ensure that accuracy was within the client’s requirements.

The impeller Scan inside Geomagic Design X

The problem of the part not being on the center axis was easily fixed, since Design X allowed Percival to redesign with design intent. He was able to model the part by extracting the profile, generating a sketch and adjusting the revolution axis to the proper design intent. Lastly, he merged the model and extracted the radii from the scan data, applying it to every blade. Once the model was complete in Design X, he used the software’s LiveTransfer technology to send the entire feature-based solid model into Solidworks and saved it as a native sldprt file for the client.

Using the CAD tools in Design X and the product knowledge provided by the customer, Percival was able to recreate the entire runner as a solid model true to design intent.

Cost savings in decreased downtime of hydro power generation plant

$ 20,000 per day *

Average cost to traditionally reverse engineer a runner

$ 3,800 and 4 days

3D Rev Eng cost

$ 2,500 and 2 days

Cost to manually produce foundry tooling from traditional reverse engineering data

$ 35,000 and 5 weeks

Cost to CNC cut foundry tooling from CAD data made in Geomagic Design X

$22,000 and 3 weeks

Cost savings in finish machining and balancing of a casting made from CNC tooling

$ 3,500

Cost savings and power generation efficiency resulting from highly-accurate hydraulic passages and balancing



The successful completion of the Francis Runner project has opened the door for other impeller projects for Percival and 3D Rev Eng. These projects include aquaculture impellers, mining impeller blades and Pelton wheels. Geomagic Design X allows Percival to quickly use complex shapes and surfaces to produce models within hours, which would otherwise have taken weeks.