NX certification improves design proficiency at ASML

Product: NX CAD
Industry: Electronics and Semiconductors

Leading lithography machine maker uses certification to work more effectively and improve quality with NX CAD

Knowledge and skills development

Employees are every company’s true capital. Making the most of this capital requires continuous development in every area of competence. High-tech company ASML is more aware of this than most other firms. Working on staff development to bring know-how to the highest possible level – and keep it there – is common practice at ASML.ASML is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment. The company invents, develops, manufactures and services high-tech lithography, metrology and software solutions for the semiconductor industry to enable ever smaller, cheaper, more powerful and energy-efficient semiconductors. This results in increasingly powerful and capable electronics that enable progress within a multitude of fields, including healthcare, technology, communications, energy, mobility, and entertainment. ASML is a multinational company with over 70 locations in 16 countries and employs more than 14,000 people. The company uses NX™ software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software for computer-aided design (CAD).

Evaluation

Knowledge development encompasses more than traditional expertise, it also incorporates knowledge of the software used in product development. But how do companies determine if the right knowledge is available and whether it is being applied? “Knowledge and skill are influential in two important ways,” says Denis Loncke, group leader, mechanical development of the wafer stages, ASML. “First, they help users perform their tasks faster and, second, they improve the quality and stability of the NX CAD data, including models, assemblies and drawings.” ASML machines are utilized to the greatest extent possible and kept up-to-date by ASML technology experts during their life-span. “That means the NX CAD data has to be rapidly understandable to all engineers. This is achieved through a structured process and correct usage of the NX design software,” notes Loncke.

To determine whether knowledge and skills are at a sufficiently high level and being applied correctly, ASML needed a measurement method. “Our Siemens Digital Industries Software training manager came up with the idea of introducing certification,” says Loncke. “We thought an exam would be too perceived as a performance review.” Instead, ASML’s top management wanted to help employees develop and progress within the organization. The case studies that allow employees to earn certification are jointly developed by Siemens Digital Industries Software training staff and key engineers from ASML. These incorporate specific software features that ASML uses on a daily basis. Skill assessment matrices are also written entirely in collaboration to eliminate different interpretations of the assessment.

Certification intake for training

“For an initial pilot project, nine engineers were invited to participate in a certification process,” says Loncke. “The results varied greatly and were, in some cases, really sub-standard. However, it was always clear to those taking part that the result in itself was not relevant. It serves as an intake, so that appropriate training can be provided for the focused development of knowledge and skills.” Certification exercises and assessment matrices are divided into a number of modules: Teamcenter® software integration for NX, NX modeling, NX assemblies and NX drafting. Each user must score a minimum number of points on each module. If the minimum score is not achieved, training is required.

Because roles within projects can vary strongly, approximately 750 employees at ASML will be eligible for certification. The remaining NX users work at the concept level and do not create NX CAD data used in product development.

Siemens Digital Industries Software total care

Processing these numbers requires considerable effort. “Within ASML, we took care of coordinating certification of internal staff,” says Loncke. “We proposed a date to everyone on which they could take the three-and-a-half-hour certification, within a four-week deadline. Some flexibility was required, but all involved did their utmost to make this work.” As a result, all certification could be completed in the short period between October 2013 and April 2014. Certification of so-called “farm-out” companies started in April 2014. These farm-out companies take care of certain development tasks for ASML. Siemens Digital Industries Software is responsible for all planning and implementation, including the financial arrangements. “Siemens Digital Industries Software has taken a lot of work off our hands.” says Loncke.

Training requirements are met with Siemens Digital Industries Software’s standard training offering. No ASML-specific components are included. Many farm-out companies have been asking for employee certification of their own accord in a proactive approach that emphasizes the quality of their cooperation with ASML.

Securing and embedding processes

One-off certification is not sufficient to secure and embed practices and knowledge in the organization. “We won’t be checking the engineers’ daily output to see whether they’re working according to the defined processes,” says Loncke. “These should be second nature. With NX Checkmate validation tools, we do have a control model available, but this is geared towards standards compliance of models and drawings. Guaranteeing that processes are fully embedded will be realized by repeating the certification every two years.”

Reactions from participants and management have been extremely positive. Even very experienced users who trained to pass the certification test remarked that they had learned a great deal. “Certain people scored 100 percent in all areas,” says Loncke. “They have been lauded for this. Their NX knowledge and skills perfectly match the job they have to do.”

Faster upgrade to new versions

Responses from certification participants have also included proposals for improvement of the roll-out of new versions of NX within ASML. In addition, input on the operation of NX has also been collected. This input has been evaluated by Siemens Digital Industries Software representatives and addressed in the development of NX.

Productivity benefits

The key benefit of certification is increased productivity. “We already knew the indica-tors before and after certification from the pilot,” says Loncke. “After training and recertification, engineers were, on aver-age, 50 percent more efficient with NX and Teamcenter.” That metric was specifically derived from exercises not completed on time, and the use of prolonged work-arounds. “After the training, exercises were completed within the allocated time and engineers went straight for the best solution using the right features,” Loncke continues. “We have calculated the return on investment and arrived at a business case that unequivocally supports the value of training.”

Design Automation Associates, automated circuit board vibration analysis reduces errors and results in 100x faster process

Product: NX CAD
Industry: Electronics and Semiconductors

Using NX Open to automate iterative design and analysis processes results in highly efficient, standardized operations.

Engineers helping engineers

Founded by three United Technologies engineers in 1995, Design Automation Associates Inc. (DAA) offers a variety of engineering consulting services, with a focus on helping companies automate their product development and configuration processes. The firm, which now has a staff of 20, serves a wide range of industries, including rotating equipment, electronics packaging, industrial machinery, aerospace, military and automotive.

DAA has a great deal of experience in determining which activities are suitable for automation. One of the most promising involves the design and analysis of engineered-to-order (ETO) and configured-to-order (CTO) products. “Iterative problems occur in all areas of engineering design and analysis, but they especially occur in companies with engineered-to-order and configured-to-order products where certain parts are designed so repetitively that automation can provide huge time savings,” says John Lambert, president and CEO of DAA.

As a specific example in electronics packaging, Lambert points to the finite element analysis (FEA) that must be performed for ETO printed circuit boards (PCBs). “For every new order, these companies have to re-engineer their circuit boards. Even when companies use good analysis technology, there is still a lot of work that must be done by hand,” Lambert explains. In many cases, manual calculations are needed to deter-mine loads, for example, and to assess the results of an analysis. “Many of those calculations, such as those used to interpret results, involve specialized procedures that are part of a company’s intellectual property that makes it unique and able to compete,” Lambert continues. “There is a whole domain of logic and calculation that won’t be added to any analysis software as out-of-the-box functionality, because it is company-specific.”

DAA has seen situations where the analysis process for a single ETO product took as many as 40 hours. “And a company might perform that same analysis process 100 to 200 times a year,” Lambert says. “In addition to the time and expense incurred, having to rely on so much manual calculation introduces the likelihood of error.” Whenever DAA does see attempts at automation, it’s almost always in the form of macros, which are, as Lambert points out, “twenty-year-old technology.”

Way beyond macros

DAA engineers use a number of advanced design and analysis solutions in their work, but when it comes to automating complex, iterative analyses and design-analysis loops, the firm relies on Simcenter and NX software from Siemens Digital Industries Software. DAA uses Simcenter 3D and Simcenter Nastran, both part of the Siemens’ Simcenter portfolio, for advanced analysis. “The Simcenter and NX toolset is world-class functionality,” says Lambert. “With Simcenter 3D and NX, we get integrated modeling and analysis capabilities, as well as NX Open.” NX Open is the application programming interface (API) embedded within both Simcenter 3D and NX. DAA uses NX Open, along with some custom coding, for its more complex automations. “The problems we’re focusing on require complexity and automation beyond that supported by out-of-the-box capabilities,” says Lambert. “For that we use NX Open.”

As an example of the automation DAA has done, Lambert describes a finite element analysis of a PCB destined for use in an aerospace application. “This is a great example of a task that must be done iteratively, in part because there are so many design variables, such as the components on the board and the mounts, that can be changed,” Lambert explains. “Also, the boards are subject to random vibration, and depending on the spectrum there can be one or more keep-away zones. You need to iteratively move frequencies to get them away from “keep-away zones” and into areas of lower vibration, but it’s not that simple because you can increase loads and stresses by doing that. When you move frequencies, you have to reassess loads. And often in electronics packaging there are components that have frequencies close to each other, so they magnify each other. It becomes an exhaustive, iterative game to achieve the balance between proper frequency placement and the structural board integrity.”

DAA’s automated version of this process, which looks to the user like native NX functionality, includes geometric modeling, FEA preprocessing, postprocessing and analysis using Simcenter 3D and Simcenter Nastran® software. Starting with the NX geometry model of the PCB, the program automatically creates the finite element mesh and applies the appropriate material properties. Then it iteratively runs a frequency extraction analysis (Simcenter Nastran Solution 103). Custom code written by DAA using NX Open compares the results to the random vibration spectrum, and then continues the iterative looping and modifications to the PCB geometry until the PCB vibration frequencies are out of the keep away zone on the random vibration curve. Next, custom calculations are done to determine loads, followed by analyses of stresses and deflections (Simcenter Nastran Solution 101). Some additional custom code combines those results with industry and process knowledge to generate life predictions, make comparisons against material allowables, and ultimately determine whether the design is acceptable. If not, the process starts again and the iterations continue until the design has adequate structural integrity.

In this example, Lambert notes that thermal analysis is not involved, although it could be: “Generally there is thermal analysis that has to be done and it can be included in the automation as well.”

Huge time savings and fewer errors

One of the most obvious benefits of automation, as illustrated in the PCB example, is the time it saves. Lambert has seen situations where an analysis that previously required 40 hours is now done by the automated process in 15 minutes.

Of course, creating the automation takes time, and DAA has a good rule of thumb for estimating how much time. “It takes approximately 10 times as long to create a somewhat robust automation routine as it does to run a single iteration,” Lambert explains. “So not everything is appropriate for an automation. If it’s an analysis that a company will run only a handful of times, it’s probably not worth it. But if it’s some-thing they’re doing 25 or 100, or 200 times a year, it makes a lot of sense.”

What skill level is needed to create an automation such as the one he described? “You need someone who has a moderate level of programming capability,” Lambert says. “The journaling function will generate a lot of NX Open code for you, but you need to know how to open that code, edit it and enhance it so it’s more suited to a general-purpose application, instead of just recording keystrokes.”

There are several other benefits to auto-mating iterative simulation processes with Simcenter 3D. Automations maintain the NX look and feel, so users who are comfortable with NX CAD need minimal training to use them. Also, once processes are automated by expert analysts, they can be run by users with less education and training, freeing up analysts for more challenging projects. Automating a process also has the effect of standardizing it and eliminating human errors, such as analysts’ mistakes in hand calculations.

DAA has had so much success using NX Open automation that it surprises Lambert that more companies aren’t taking advantage of the software’s programming functionality. “There is very powerful capability in  NX and Simcenter but we rarely see it used even though there is a great need for this kind of automation among our customers,” he says. “In the right situations, automating simulation processes within the NX CAD environment could be well worth the investment.”

Using NX allows design and analysis to work together more efficiently and productively

Product: NX CAD, Simcenter 3D
Industry: Aeroespacial y Defensa

For more than 30 years, ENGINEERS at ATA Engineering, Inc., (ATA), have provided analysis and test-driven design solutions for structural, mechanical, electromechanical, and aerospace products. The company has worked on a wide variety of projects, including amusement parks, biomedical devices and electronic components.

Most of ATA Engineering’s work is done in the aerospace industry, for clients such as Orbital Sciences, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Pratt & Whitney, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Air Force Research Laboratory and General Atomics. There is no room for errors in this job: it is critical to meet specifications accurately, while facing strict deadlines. ATA engineers often face short production runs, sometimes even for a single unit, as a satellite component. It’s forced that they do well the first time.

ATA staff have used SOFTWARE NX™ for many years. However, they recently applied the mostrecent version of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) NX software to complex real-world structures using three representative cases and found significant improvements in time and effort savings during design, analysis, and upgrade cycles.

ATA engineer Allison Hutchings defines it this way: “Real-world structures have complex design definitions and challenging analysis requirements, and both are constantly changing. NX enables you to cope with changes efficiently and productively.”

Changing model parameters without recreating geometry

The first use case involved meshing an isometric grid reflector model, such as those designed for assembly on a spacecraft. Isometric geometry provides advantages for spatial structures that must be rigid, lightweight, and durable, but the large number of surfaces implies that the definition of the initial geometry of the CAD model and the CAE model can be tedious. When the design needs to be updated, such as altering the diameter, focal length, and measurement of cells in this case, “these changes can cause severe headaches,” Hutchings says. In many cases, you may need to completely recreate the geometry instead of simply updating it to incorporate the new dimensions.

Leveraging Synchronous Technology provided by NX along with an intelligent approach to the original design definition, however, these issues are avoided. Several techniques, such as patterns and expressions, facilitated the direct parameterization of key geometry definitions in NX CAD and this capability was leveraged directly for meshing and analysis. As a result, 100 percent of the geometry was automatically updated and 96 percent of the riveting was performed automatically when the associated finite feature model (FEM) was upgraded to the new geometry. Cleaning the remaining 4 percent was relatively quick and easy, particularly compared to the need to recreate FEM altogether.

The second use case was a lightweight support model. Because weight is a pressing factor in aerospace designs, the engineer must struggle with competitive goals to maintain the lightest possible support while meeting stiffness requirements while maintaining the ability to handle the necessary loads. The process often results in supports with complex geometry.

In Finite Element Analysis (FEA), the standard practice is to “idealize” geometry, eliminating details and features that do not affect analysis. It is done to save calculation time, but it is often necessary to repeat the idealization process each time the part is updated.

With NX, this additional step can be avoided. For this task, after the part dimensions were changed, 93 percent was automatically idealized and updated. Although the changes that were made to the support were relatively simple, the time and effort savings were remarkable: the automated idealization of the upgrade was more than 100 times faster than the manual process and meshing of the updated model was at least 3 times faster.

Updating geometry in minutes

The third use case focused on the model of an existing air brake: a assembly that allows an aircraft to slow down to land by generating a turbulent output flow from a fan bypass nozzle and also makes it easier to landing the aircraft slower, from a steeper angle, reducing overall noise.

The blade angles inside the air brake can have a drastic effect on the performance of the air brake under different conditions. By altering these angles in the model, the analyst can evaluate those effects. In this case, the prismatic blades were rotated to analyze configurations between 0 and 25 degrees. With NX, instead of performing a tedious manual process of reshaping the entire system, Hutchings simply changed the aspa angle parameter and was able to update the geometry in minutes, as the idealized part automatically adjusted to the new angle. Hutchings comments, “Map meshing is preserved, creating an identical mesh on the blade surfaces between all angles, then the CAD model propagates to the FEM and the mesh is updated in minutes.

In all three cases, new NX features made it possible to perform geometry updates quickly, Hutchings says. “We were able to parameterize the design definition, create a structural analysis model by leveraging the design for specific analysis requirements, updating design parameters, and propagating changes to analysis modeling much faster than would have been remodeled.”

More efficient engineering with integrated design and analysis

“These are all problems that we thought were difficult to solve before,” Hutchings says. In the past, updating the finite element model due to geometry changes would involve reshaping changes in CAD, resealing the model, and riveting to create FEM, or some very complex manual changes in meshing. Both options took quite a while. “Recent additions to NX have made these efforts much easier. The degree of connection NX makes possible between design and analysis more efficiently supports engineering compared to the use of non-integrated finite element processes,” he says.

The problems Hutchings examined illustrate the advantages of working with the integrated NX range. This is not only an improvement in the refresh rate, but also the possibility of failure between the CAD model and the finite element model is also less due to the way they are linked. “If you work with constantly changing design specifications, it’s very fast and easy to modify dimensions and change parameters with NX, without having to recreate finite element models,” he says. “This saves a lot of time and effort on tedious tasks, as well as providing confidence that the model will be updated to the correct design definition.”