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From the first notion of an idea to the fine detail of a complex and highly engineered item such as a facial prosthetic; award-winning Fripp Design and Research is recognized for its expertise in taking a concept through CAD realization and rapid prototyping to manufacture. With particular experience in registration of intellectual property (IP) and the commercial development of ideas, the company provides a range of services that support innovation and business growth. Customers range from single inventors to large corporations such as Boots and Marks and Spencer. Having built strong relationships with both commercial organizations and academic centres of excellence, it has a track record of leading public / private collaborations and helping clients to access grant funding to develop and establish IP. The CAD software that Fripp’s designers now turn to is Solid Edge.
“One of the problems we were having with our previous CAD software was compatibility,” says Tom Fripp, MD of the company. “And this was not only with other CAD packages; a customer might send us a file created in a later version of our own package but if we had not upgraded we would not be able to open it. We had to open a separate programme, import the data and translate it into another file format, for example, IGES. The big problem with this was that we could not manipulate the content and for us this blocked potential modelling innovation.”
When Fripp learnt that support for the company’s operating system would gradually be withdrawn, he knew it was time to act. It was clear that the company would have to upgrade its operating system to ensure the security of its own data and that of its customers. For Fripp that also meant an opportunity to upgrade CAD software. “It was at this point that we attended a seminar put on by Siemens partner Majenta PLM. It was immediately clear to us that Solid Edge offered exactly what we needed in a CAD package. We were particularly impressed by Synchronous Technology.”
After just two days of training, designers at Fripp Design and Research were up and running. Fripp Designer Neil Frewer comments, “There were only four of us and it was really, really useful to be in a small group. The focus was on Synchronous Technology but we also did workflow. We immediately felt very confident about Majenta PLM, as if we were acquiring a new partner who really understood our business. This was very reassuring.”
Tom Fripp adds “The experts at Majenta PLM always provide excellent support and keep up-to-date with our business. In particular, our Account Manager goes the extra mile to look after us. He is always responsive, if he can help us he will, for example he can take control of a PC here in the office and show us exactly how to do something.”
Compatibility is no longer an issue according to Tom Fripp. “The nature of our business is that we may be brought in to remedy an issue with a CAD file or prepare some rendering or make a file production ready. As a result we frequently take on a customer CAD file that has either been prepared in-house or by another designer. Solid Edge allows us to open the file with ease and it is a major advantage to us that we do not have to spend time going through another CAD system to gain access to data that we are sent. Synchronous Technology then allows us to manipulate the existing model; this freedom to move around easily and play is the key to creativity.”
The company is sometimes asked by a customer to produce scale 3D prints in colour. Neil Frewer explains that there are sometimes issues with certain parts such as sheet metal work, which end up being less than a millimetre thick when scaled down. There is one feature that he particularly appreciates: “Solid Edge allows us to scale down and adjust dimensions on large models easily, we can therefore guarantee that sections are not too small to print after a model is scaled down. It takes us no time to ensure strength yet retain overall proportions. This is very useful.”
Tom Fripp describes the FEA functionality within the company’s former CAD package as oriented towards users with an engineering or physics background. In contrast, he considers the FEA within Solid Edge to be set up for designers. “It is not a late add-on, it is much more integrated within the development process. What we need is a good general overview of FEA and the ability to dip in and out of it as a product evolves and that is exactly what we get with Solid Edge.”
Neil Frewer comments, “It was easy to learn the FEA aspect of Solid Edge. Everything is on the front page, we do not have to dig deep and we have found that it is quicker to get results.
According to Tom Fripp, Solid Edge is creating a 90% time saving at certain stages of the development process. “It allows us to tweak things we receive from customers in record time. What would have taken 30 minutes in our previous CAD system now takes just three minutes in Solid Edge. Overall development time is reduced by about one third because we can create, reverse engineer and render models with ease and effectively integrate FEA.”
Neil Frewer adds: “It is unbelievably easy to use compared to our previous package; and reliable. It used to take so much set up time before could see something we could really trust. Even when we model from scratch, we are 20-30% quicker because Solid Edge is so easy to use.”
In addition, Fripp Design and Research makes particular use of the Solid Edge online library of parts, which is full of critical items such as washers, screws and valves placed there by manufacturers. “Because it is so well supported and sponsored it is a great forum for us and extremely useful for our customers,” says Frewer. “It is a real time saver; whereas it could take three or four days to design contextual parts we can pick them up from the library instantly and it is easy and quick to bring in a non-native file or block model or a 2D drawing. It only takes about ten clicks, for example, to transfer from a simple 2D drawing to a 3D model.”
Tom Fripp concludes, “We have found Majenta PLM to be far more proactive than our previous reseller who did not give us any guidance with regard to our CAD strategy and direction. The guys at Majenta PLM maintain regular contact and keep us updated about any developments relevant to our business. It is thanks to Majenta PLM that Solid Edge is enabling us to increase our business offering to customers. What might have taken us three days now only takes one day so we can reduce the cost and therefore the financial risk for our customers. Having Synchronous Technology means that we have future proofed the company; it definitely gives us a competitive edge.”