Software development companies PTC (NASDAQ: PTC) and ANSYS (NASDAQ: ANSS) are working together to bring engineering simulation capabilities to the ThingWorx® platform. The project gives a glimpse at the future of interlinked additive manufacturing and cyber physical systems.

Designed to wirelessly control and monitor machine behaviour, ThingWorx® is an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) program that collects Big Data from operations. By integrating ANSYS simulation into ThingWorx®, this data can be turned “into new forms of actionable intelligence” that companies can use for smarter product design.

Industry 4.0

Powering the IIoT has become an appealing prospect for software companies in recent years as manufacturing propels towards a fourth industrial revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0.

Manufacturing's progression to Industry 4.0. Image via: Sheffield.ac.uk

Manufacturing’s progression to Industry 4.0. Image via: Sheffield.ac.uk

In this fourth wave of industrialisation, automated processes, like robot assembly and inspection, are wired with internet capabilities, and a level of artificial intelligence that enables the machines to make judgments on the outcome of a product.

3D Printing Industry’s related reports on Industry 4.0 utilities include ThingWorx® 3D printer integration by manufacturer and service provider 3D Systems, and our coverage of 2017’s UK Intelligent Engineering Forum.

Predictive modeling and smarter machining 

With ANSYS and PTC’s ThingWorx® solution, customers will be able to analyze not only the process of making a part, but also predict the component’s performance based on the design and a set of parameters. This information can then be leveraged to create a new operation to improve the part as it is made onsite, even creating predictive 3D models for the purpose.

Digital simulation of a motor pump, working normally (left) and in overload (right). Image via ANSYS

Digital simulation of a motor pump, working normally (left) and in overload (right). Images via ANSYS

Catherine Kniker, chief revenue officer of Platform Business at PTC explains,

Simulation technology combined with machine learning can help Industrial IoT solution builders identify and make sense of the data needed to improve product design and performance – and develop next-generation products. We look forward to seeing how solution builders will create new value by introducing our solution with ANSYS, a preferred simulation partner, into their applications.

3D printing and the digital twin

With computer aided design (CAD) flexibility, 3D printing has become an integral factor to realizing the turnaround of smarter designs, for both rapid prototyping and the production of end-user parts. Additionally, 3D printers are often included in smart factory concepts, such as the Next Gen AM project from AEROTEC, EOS and Daimler.

By utilizing IoT functionality and 3D printing in these facilities, companies are working toward smarter automated production. As such, a “digital twin” of the physical factory/part is often created.

Demonstration of an ANSYS digital twin. Image via ANSYS Blog

Demonstration of an ANSYS digital twin. Image via ANSYS Blog

ANSYS general manager, Eric Bantegnie adds,

Many of our customers are looking to digital twins to disrupt their industries by drastically lowering their operating and maintenance costs and by marketing their products as optimized services in real time. By leveraging the solution that ANSYS and PTC will bring to the market, our customers will bring powerful capabilities to new Industrial IoT applications.

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Featured image: Digital simulation of a motor pump overload using ANSYS/Thingworx integration. Image via ansys.com

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