CAD Software Blog

Advice for Implementing Model-Based Definition [Interview]

by Madhavi Ramesh

If you work in product development, you may have heard a lot over the past couple years about model-based definition, or MBD. With MBD, engineers and designers can include within their 3D CAD models all the engineering information for a design, such as dimensions, GD&T, and notes—as well as geometry.

But while many benefits come from having a single authoritative source for a product design, asking your engineering team to rethink how they work isn’t trivial. That’s why I set out to talk to people who have helped guide their own companies through the transition. People like Jerry Schondelmayer

Schondelmayer is a CAD services manager for an iconic major furniture maker, known across the industry for design and innovation. He recently helped the company add MBD to its product development processes. By directly including elements like geometric dimensioning and tolerances to 3D designs, the company aimed to cut costs, increase clarity and improve communication throughout the development and manufacturing cycle.

I talked Schondelmayer recently about his experience.

Jerry Schondelmayer, a CAD manager, helped his company implement model-based definition

Jerry Schondelmayer

Madhavi: It’s my pleasure talking to you. I’d like to begin with asking how you would define MBD?  

Schondelmayer: I’d define MBD as the technology that ultimately replaces 2D drawings with a 3D engineering specification environment that defines a part or sub-assembly or a product in such a way that does not require 2D drawings and yet is fully defined dimensionally along with notes and other parameters that are embedded in the 3D model somewhere.

Madhavi: Would you agree that MBD and MBE (Model Based Enterprise) are different? If yes, can you tell us your point of view?

Schondelmayer: Yes, I see MBD as the environment where the engineering specs reside. This is typically the traditional outputs of engineers, designers, drafters. The change in the methodology for them to communicate design intent to the world would be another way to talk about.

MBE has a much broader scope and includes the entire ecosystem that you could draw MBD specs into which upstream and downstream inputs and outputs within your business systems are then incorporated within the larger ecosystem. It could be anywhere from design in development, quality, inspection, manufacturing, procurement. 

Madhavi: What would you say are the three key business drivers for MBD?

Schondelmayer: Cost, Clarity, and Quality.

  • Cost - We believe there’s cost reduction in the creation of engineering specs by engineering staff. The equation of creating one annotated model is less effort than creating a model and a 2D drawing.
  • Clarity - MBD data allows for increased clarity while communicating with downstream consumers. When the 3D engineering specs are provided instead of 2D drawings, users do not have to interpret the 2D drawing. Instead they can directly interact with the model and obtain the necessary information.
  • Quality- Quality improvements are seen when design intent is communicated clearly and unambiguously. There’s less of an opportunity to misinterpret drawings and recreate information.

Madhavi: How do manufacturing teams benefit from the MBD data?

Schondelmayer: At my company, we work very closely with our supply base and hence need our suppliers to embrace 3D engineering specifications. I believe one of the key benefits of MBD is for suppliers because components are created by the supply base. Inspection folks will use MBD data in lieu of 2D drawings.

Madhavi: MBD is definitely more than flipping a switch. It’s not about just creating 3D models but involves numerous changes to business processes as well. Where did you start?

Schondelmayer: We started by identifying and understanding the as-is process of where 2D drawings are leveraged and by whom. And, this activity gave us many surprises. We discovered places that currently use 2D drawing that we were not thinking of.

Madhavi: What recommendations can you make for others starting out?

Schondelmayer:  Based on my experience, I’d suggest the following

  • Tune in. Listen to conversations going on about MBD and MBE in the online communities, events, forums, etc.
  • Network. Network with someone further along. Perhaps, network with people from companies that have implemented MBD/MBE and are successful. 
  • Get buy-in.  Involve the stakeholders early on to engage and educate them about how MBD adds value versus adding another layer of complexity for them.
  • Pilot a project. Find a project/product that pilots the creation of MBD specs, follow through with all the business process using these 3D engineering specs, document, evaluate, and assess the benefits of the new methodology compared to the traditional approach.
  • Don’t expect one size to fit all – hence understand your company’s objectives, limitations, etc. and develop your own unique, and appropriate, roadmap for MBD.

A 3D model with annotations

It’s easier to see annotation references on a model than it is to see them on a drawing.

Get more from your models

Model-based definition promises to streamline product development, saving time and costs for companies large and small. That’s why we continue to add significant MBD enhancements to Creo Parametric, PTC’s 3D CAD software. In addition, we’ve added a new and comprehensive set of capabilities that can validate your geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) work. To learn more, or to download a free 30-day trial, visit the Creo 4.0 page today.

Learn more and download Creo 4.0

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