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for items like telephone hand sets, which NIKON NISHI-OHI WORKS Product Design Methodology are also molded from ABS. The handfeel

for Cameras of such items can then be assessed. 23 August 1991 The cycle from sketch to solid pro

Camera technology is changing totype part is 3 days, most of it taken up Background

rapidly, with microelectronics being the by 24 hour per day operation of the

main driver. From a mechanical viewSOUP machine itself.

Our hosts were Mr. Okuda, Gen- point, the main change is to styling the

eral Manager of the Production Engi- exterior with arbitrary sculptured surOther Uses for CAD/CAE/CAM neering Headquarters (HQ), and Mr. faces. This has thrown the camera

Okamoto, the Senior Assistant Man- companies right into the car design These are fairly routine, compared ager of the CAD-CAM (computer-aided arena without the car companies’years to the rapid prototyping. Typical FEM design/manufacturing) Center, a very of gradual buildup of experience, attiis done using NISA 2, commercial soft- astute person who may be ahead of the

astute person who may be ahead of the tudes, and software development ware from the United States. Vibra- rest of the company's thinkingon many resources. tion, deformation, and stress analyses issues.

Altogether Nikon has about 100 are done on a Fujitsu workstation. Nikon is a diversified optical com- camera designers, split 70:30 Fujitsu also uses FEM5, an in-house pany with 7,200 employees and $2.2B mechanical:electronic. (Since the optics product, and ABAQUS. The prepro- annual sales (at ¥150/S). The main are designed elsewhere I do not have a cessor is called Concept Station, made products are cameras (42% of sales), good view of that process. See the Ricoh by Unigraphics. CADAM is used for instruments (microscopes, theodolites, report for an optics story.) There are so ordinary engineering drafting. surveyors' telescopes - 7%), industrial many design projects going on and so

Another in-house program is coin- equipment (mostly for making semi- little time that the staff is stretched cidentally called ICAD, but has nothing conductors and recently "very busy"

“thin. to do with the U.S. company of that 32%), and eyeglasses (8.5%). Smaller A top-of-the-line camera has about name. This in-house ICAD is for divisions have less than 4% each and 1,000 mechanical parts. The F4 took mechanical design. They did not show make electronic imaging cameras, 3 years to design and occupied 10 to 15 it to me and said that it needs improve- magneto-optical storage disks, and designers full time: 5 mechanical, 5

: ment. They are more proud of ICAD's bioengineering products, such as glass- electrical, 1 or 2 optical, and 1 software. circuit design capability, but did not coated metal dental implants.

Lower level cameras may have 600 parts. show that either.

The Production Engineering HQ is Totally new cameras are designed every

a corporate-level activity that makes 2 to 3 years, with small changes all the Other Tour Sites

production equipment for all the divi- time on 1-year cycles.

sions. While equipment design is done Another important driver of camera Mr. Uchiyama hosted us on a tour at Nishi-Ohi, some of the equipment design is the almost vain attempt to of Fujitsu Laboratory's robotics activ- manufacture is done at the plants keep the weight from growing as optics ities. These included a simulator for where it is used. Curiously, Okuda and other features are added. The main zero-gravity robot operation, robot off does not report directly to Corporate casualty of this effort has been the die line programming, precision class 10 HQ but instead to the Executive Director cast aluminum body, which has been cleanroom robots for disk drive assem- (VP) of the Industrial Equipment replaced by a set of precision molded bly, and a space mechatronics labora- Division, who reports to the President. plastic parts, usually 20% glass-filled tory. The latter is making experimental There is one other Executive Director, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). modules for Space Shuttle or Space for Consumer Products, the only other (The same material is the prime one Lab activities in the late 1990s. Fujitsu main division. Okuda says that reporting for printer parts. See Seiko-Epson has about 100 of its FAROT precision in this asymmetric way causes no prob- report.) Stress analysis would thus seem PUMA-style robots in use, mostly for lems. In any case, Nikon is generally to be a prime concern, but neither Nikon precision assembly and circuit board typical of Japanese companies in mak- nor Ricoh has enough solid modeling probing. These robots have about ing its own manufacturing equipment capability to use such techniques on a 30 micron repeatability. Uchiyama was in a corporate-level department. regular basis. the designer of the first prototype for Okamoto stressed several times that A third driver is price competition. this robot over 10 years ago.

Nikon is a conservative company that Few Japanese companies can assemble serves a conservative and highly pro- cameras domestically. Assembly is fessional clientele.

basically manual and labor costs are high. Nikon, at the top of the price rougher outsides than SOUP's, which It is surprising to see little or no chain, can assemble in Japan, but it can is to be expected. Perhaps camera and solid modeling in use to attack these (and must) fabricate only the critical phone designers must have the fine problems or those of checking that all

) plastic parts in-house. For the others, detail and smooth finish that take 3 days the parts will fit. Okamoto sees the it makes use of (to us) a dismaying to create.

potential very clearly but says that the array of mom and pop shops scattered An important issue is weight and camera companies are debating how to around town and country, working in balance, which must be judged when best approach the problem. In the poor conditions and subject to dismissal outer shape is designed. Current and meantime they make use of the ability at any time. For this reason, among past data are both lacking on internal of two-dimensional (2D) CAD to genothers, the influence of production part weight and especially location of erate lots of cross section drawings, engineers in the design process is not centers of gravity, a major shortcoming which they compare by eye with autotypical for Japanese companies, since according to Okamoto. But the deci- matically generated sections of the solid they are not representing in-house sion must be made anyway, usually by model of the shell. people and it is difficult to predict the top management on a date set in advance Once the outer shell is approved, capabilities of such suppliers. Incom- on the master schedule.

the interior is designed and one or two ing inspection is a big effort.

When the outer shell is approved, a engineering prototypes are built. All The last driver is the design of a very solid (actually surface) model is made such design is on 2D CAD. About halfcomplex and oddly shaped flexible and all subsequent engineering and way through this cycle a co-located printed circuit that holds several cus- preproduction prototypes are designed production tryout team joins the protom integrated circuits (ICs) and lots using CAD.“We pay more attention to cess. They will build preproduction of little components. This must snake feature lines than the car companies prototypes before outside contractors around to link several locations on do.”

and assemblers are launched. The several of the functional elements inside The interior of a camera is divided designers visit the factory where the the camera (film drive, range finder, into “blocks." We would call these current models are made to learn about autofocus, autoexposure, liquid crystal subassemblies although each likely has any problems they should avoid. Prodisplay (LCD), flash, and so on.) Design several subassemblies of its own. The duction people attend design reviews of this flex circuit is tedious and not main blocks are the mirror box (for near the end of the design process but well supported by CAD.

single lens reflex (SLR) cameras), the their comments are usually applied to The camera design process (sameat shutter block, the rewind spool and the next camera. New designs are coming Ricoh) begins with “industrial design” fork, and the takeup mechanism. Auto- along all the time with so much overlap of the exterior. As many as 10 outer focus motor and gears are inside the and so little major change that a phase shell prototypes are made by hand detachable lenses of Nikon cameras. shift of one design does not matter in from wood or styrofoam. Each such The size and shape of these blocks drive applying the factory comments, or so prototype takes a week to carve and the shape of the interior of the camera. says Mr. Sasagaki, the assistant manfinish. Design is difficult because hand- Dividing up the detailed functions of ager of the camera design department. feel is important and peoples' hands the camera among these blocks is "dif- Major disasters are obviously prevented, are such different sizes. Especially U.S. ficult” and no systematic procedure and the designers learn to anticipate and Japanese people are quite different seems to exist. However, there is not most other problems. Whether this in body size. No solid modeling is used too much room for change, and much approach would work at Canon with its for these explorations because it is “too of the arrangement of past cameras is more radical changes and faster design slow.” At least, the car company engi- copied in new ones. Each block is usually cycle is not clear. neers tell Okamoto that! He also wor- the responsibility of one designer, who They have heard of Concurrent ries that no solid modeler could hold rotates to another block on the next Engineering but associate it with solid all the data for a camera's interior. design cycle. Thus there are no “shut- modeling, not with a different kind of Again, this mirrors car company opinion. ter gurus” and so on.

design process. Stereolithography (SL) is not used. The main factors driving new block They have heard of SOUP (see Fujitsu arrangements and shapes are elimina- Use of Computers in the report). For them, SOUP's 3 days is tion of the aluminum frame and radi- Design Process also too slow. (Yet they wait a week cally new camera shapes, such as ones now??) But other SL machines give with vertical formats. (Videocameras Most of the factories and other design results in 2 to 3 hours. I was told this at in horizontal format have appeared as divisions use CADAM or CATIA, Ricoh and shown the parts. They have well.)

running off a total of six large IBM mainframes (3090, 4341, or 9370). All admits that it does not support auto- engineers do, and complain that the the mainframes are linked by Ethernet matic routing or checking of node lists. designers don't. It is a manual method, and all the terminals in a factory or These are pretty basic steps in complex not connected to CAD, though he would design center are on some kind of local circuit design that are supported fully like to make this connection. “It will area network (LAN).

or partly by other commercial software, save enormous time and effort.” Nikon uses Computervision (CV) but here the designer does it all by eye. for most of its camera CAD and CAM. All the software does is smooth the Other CAD/CAM Newer software such as a few seats with lines and check design rules like line SDRC's I-DEAS level V operate on width and spacing. The example circuit In the software R&D laboratory I DEC or HP workstations. “Solid he showed had two layers and a very was shown modeling” of the exterior parts is actually complex curved perimeter shape, plus

, surface modeling with NURBS (non- about 100 parts including 6 ICs. It took • CAT (computer-aided testing; when uniform rational B-splines). Realistic “a very expert person” 2 months to mechanical engineers in Japan use shaded images are possible, though not design it but “visitors usually guess it this term, they mean computer-aided as good as Toyota's. took a year.”

surface inspection of mechanical These sculptured shapes are made The CV software then computes a parts using a coordinate measuring by injection molding but, although good route for the NCdrill software for machine (CMM)] Moldflow software is available in-house, putting the holes in the circuit. For 332 it is not in use. Okamoto hears that it is holes, this step took about 5 minutes. • CAD of eyeglass frames hard to use. (Like many people in many Lens design is done in another departcompanies, he could use better infor- ment using Nikon's own ray tracing • Conversion of 2D drawings to threemation than he can get.) The data for software operating on a UNISYS


dimensional (3D) models molded parts are converted from CV computer. In Okamoto's department, to CATIA in order that NC can be used a simple geometric ray tracer is on • Reverse engineering of arbitrary to make the molds. The recently estab- hand to discover design problems like shapes (scan part and create comlished Mito plant does all the mold hoods that interfere with the image. puter model) design, fabrication, and part produc- He is equipped to handle customers' tion for the company. CNC and direct inquiries on such things by phone in CAT has been improved by providnumerical control (DNC) are used in real time.

ing offline programming of the CMMS the mold machining process.

Okamoto has some software research that Nikon sells. The goal was to create CV's 2D drafting is used to design and development (R&D) responsibili

and development (R&D) responsibili- a computer screen imitation of the all the other parts, but the mom and ties as well and would like to try many CMM's control console plus an easy pop shops do not have NC and usually things that the company is reluctant to

things that the company is reluctant to graphical user interface. CAD data about employ hand tools.

support or which he fears the designers the part to be measured are used to Part of Okamoto's job is to modify would not use. Among these are use of drive the software. Animation of the commercial CAD software for internal solid modeling to check interferences machine's actions and pictorial images use. This takes three forms: improving and to support various kinds of design


and to support various kinds of design of available measuring probes are also the user interfaces, creating data trans- for manufacture (DFM) and design for available. He hopes that this software lation code, and integrating in-house assembly (DFA). Assembly planning is will enhance sales of CMMs, which are special computer-aided engineering especially interesting but no one else slow. (CAE) software. An example of the seems to support him. He also wants to CAD of eyeglass frames is done on latter is code written by Sasagaki to try artificial intelligence (AI) for help- a color Silicon Graphics console using permit shutter kinematic analysis. It is ing the circuit board routing process a drawing program similar to many not graphic but merely the engineering and for converting 2D drawings into now available on the Macintosh. A very calculations. No animation is supported. solid models. He is dissatisfied with skillful woman demonstrated this. It They tried using IGES to transfer files current Al research on these topics permits lens shapes and frame shapes but too much useless detail came along since none of the methods appear fast to be designed. Both can be colored and the result was too big. enough.

realistically, and nice advertising-style The flex circuits are designed using The company has its own assemble- drawings can be made. NC data for CV software. Okamoto says that CV is ability evaluation method (AEM), cutting molds for plastic frames are especially good at this aspect, but he similar to Hitachi's, but the camera also generated. Several features of the

designers do not use it. The production process are dimension driven, but it was not clear if any constraints can be designers. Overall, he has a broad view employees and parts suppliers overimposed.

of the possibilities for integrating the seas. Ten years ago Taiwan could not Conversion of 2D models to 3D is product realization process.

assemble complex cameras for them; done interactively. The user can apply

now it can but only after lots of on-site some primitive feature-based design RICOH TOKYO OFFICES training and education. Also, a “restrucwhile selecting which portions of a

turing" program has been underway drawing to convert. The process carries 29 August 1991

for about a year. They are trying to along some extra lines which the user

improve their design methodology by removes with mouse clicks. This would Background

overlapping design tasks, improving be a useful companion to the CAT

communication between designers and software but it is still under development. My hosts were Mr. Ageishi, Direc- production engineers, and increasing

Reverse engineering is done by using tor of the IMS Department, Dr. Toriya, the use of assembly automation. But the CMM to scan a part, such as a clay a CAD expert, Mr. Yazawa, a lens total reorganization is needed first, and model for a camera. (Ricoh uses a laser.) designer, and Mr. Watanabe of the the project is still young. They have no confidence that any future Camera Product Planning Department. Ricoh has about 4,000 engineers CAD will permit direct camera design Ricoh, like Nikon, is a diversified among its Japanese employees. The on a screen.

optically oriented company with the company worries about hiring new

great difference that it leans toward ones. Each of the last 2 years 300 were Future Needs and Problems computing and communication appli- located, but next year looks difficult.

cations such as copiers and fax machines, The visit had five parts: a general Okamoto is worried that Japan is with only a small presence in the camera discussion of Concurrent Engineering falling behind. “The U.S. is 10 years market. It has 34,000 employees, of and how copiers are designed and made, ahead in use of solid models,” he says. whom only about 13,000 are in Japan, ”

an explanation of their own solid But he knows that faster and larger and sales of about $5.5B (at ¥132). modeling product, industrial design of product variations are coming, and the Office automation, including integrated camera exteriors, design of optical trains, design cycle must be shortened. The document preparation, is the main and mechanical design of camera insides. designers do not see the wave about to product line. Ricoh has 20% of the The most interesting aspect was their break over them. Just introducing solid domestic fax market and 38% of copiers. first attempt to write software that will modelers will not be the answer, because However, my visit followed the theme analyze tolerances in multi-element the entire design process must be thought of cameras, making comparisons with lenses. through and restructured. There must Nikon interesting. Copiers (see below) be more standardization, reuse of past were the subject of a brief discussion. Concurrent Engineering designs and data, and more systematic Ricoh also makes laser printers and and Copiers methods. These changes cannot be the laser engines that go into them. imposed from above because Japan is Ricoh also has a laser printer page Concurrent Engineering (CE) to too bottom-up oriented, meaning that description language software called them means intense communication the rank and file must get behind the Ricoh-Script.

between product designers and proeffort first.

A video showed off the many tech- duction engineers, including some As if to underscore the problem, nologies that Ricoh supports, includ- overlapping of their tasks. Ricoh has Sasagaki says that standardization will ing R&D on neuro-chips (one chip done this for years without calling it hurt designers' creativity.

with 256 small neuro-chips on it), voice that. The main method is meetings and Specific future needs Okamoto sees recognition as a user interface (any design reviews. In view of this, the are use of solid modeling and feature- person, limited vocabulary, one word question arises: what is the restructurbased design (FBD) to drive a true link at a time), digital signal processing chipsing mentioned in the video? Apparbetween CAD and production engi- sold to Nintendo for voice synthesis, ently the company is aiming to reduce neering, plus better ways to engineer magneto-optical storage disks, conduc- development time by another 50% and tolerances. He comes out of the CMM tive polymers (described by a lady chem- cost by 30% by 1993. Copiers will be world and is thus highly sensitive to ist), and so on. The video also hinted at attacked first. A joint team of 400 people tolerances and inspection. His main some problems which my hosts con- is working this problem. The methods hope for FBD is that it will create an firmed: the company was a pioneer in are cost analyses, planning of design engineer's interface to solid modelers offshore camera manufacture but has processes, technology improvements, and make them more acceptable to had difficulty finding qualified and more overlapping of product and

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production engineering. A major prob- is another lady, Dr. Kunii, whose Ph.D. Unfortunately, D-B is not widely lem is that each division of the com- is in database management from the used inside Ricoh. I was told that it is so pany has a different culture in its design University of Texas. She has pushed

University of Texas. She has pushed recent that there would be difficulty methods, driven by the different pro- new database management products dislodging the considerable investment duction volumes and rates of product and Toriya hopes to combine them with in commercial CAD, which was purchange in each. Only 15% of employees Design-Base (D-B).

chased for its surface modeling ability change division each year, so some Design-Base is a UNIX-compatible before D-B was available. Also, a lot of differences have built up.

system written in C that is similar in camera-specific CAE has been added They (like many Japanese com- many respects to ACIS from the U.S. to the existing CAD and they claimed it panies) wonder how to accomplish CE company Spatial Technologies. Meth- would be too hard to convert it all. more efficiently. They think the phone ods and marketing are similar: its archi- Now, however, Ricoh understands the and meetings are just fine and wonder tecture is open and its engine is avail- importance of solid modeling technolhow they could afford to give every able for licensing to companies that ogy, and D-B is expected to be used engineer a PC. Communication is first, want to use it as part of their own CAD/ more and more. then technology. Moreover, they spoke CAM work. “ACIS is our main comof having to further reduce the conser- petitor in America.” D-B is the only Industrial Design Center vatism of managers and interdepart- UNIX-based solid modeler available

mental restrictions. If these institutional in Japan, which says something. It has D-B was demonstrated here showbarriers can be reduced, then new design all the usual features: rendering, boolean ing aesthetic design of a new copier and technologies like feature-based design operations, free surface modeling using

operations, free surface modeling using a children's educational toy. The final (FBD), CAD with product and process Gregory patches, sections, filleting, and colors of the toy were chosen by a analyses, and rapid prototyping (like

consultant who used color printouts SOUP) will fit right in.

It also has several novel and inter- from solid models made on D-B.

esting user interfaces that permit very However, most of the work is done Copier Design

rapid construction of shapes from simple with other commercial software whose

primitives. These were demonstrated name I did not catch. A new copier takes from 1.5 to as on a Sony NEWS workstation, where Most of the discussion here cenmuch as 5 years to design, depending performance was impressively fast. (As tered on camera external design. This on the complexity of the new functions

at every company visited, the CAD is the first step in making a new camera. and copying technology being attempted. demonstrator was a very skillful lady.) Like car design, the first step is a series Apparently 2.5 years is typical. On big APC version exists called D-B Jr. The of hand color sketches, followed by projects the specification keeps chang- new user interface (UI) was written in several clay models. Shape is the issue, ing because the market changes rapidly Motif, so it is easily ported to other not size or weight. The final clay is at the high end. New toners and new machines. It includes ability to call digitized by a laser, a CAD drawing is scanning engines are designed in par- forth standard primitive shapes and to made, and dimensions are added to allel. There are about 550 design engi- detach surfaces from them and slide create scale and main radii. For this neers supported by about 55 produc- them easily along XYZ coordinate

them easily along XYZ coordinate last, a plastics engineer adds his comtion engineers. A new copier will occupy directions. Edges can be shifted around ments, but no molding analysis soft30 designers, while a modification of and can be broken up and made into ware is ever used in the entire process. an existing design may take 10. curves. Such operations are entirely From this drawing a very realistic

These numbers are typical of those artistic in the sense that no “surveying," mockup is hand made and the designers obtained from most Japanese companies coordinate values, or dimensions are and marketing people critique it. I visited except car makers: design teams involved. So, while it is easy, intuitive, In a recent case shown to me are small and manageable, ranging from and fast, it does not really support (RZ 800) the market was ladies, and a 10 to 30 (versus 500 at car companies). engineering. Toriya agrees that feature- major change in the shape was made,

based design would not only help but eliminating a sharp edge in front and Design-Base - Ricoh's Solid might be easy to add to his existing making the whole camera softer looking. Modeler Product methods.

The above process (sketch, clay,

Thirty researchers and engineers digitize...) is then repeated. Data from Toriya explained this product, which support development and enhancement the second version are sent to the he apparently spearheaded. He works of D-B, while 30 more support data- mechanical engineers so that they can for the Software Division, whose director base management system (DBMS) work. begin trying to fit their parts inside.

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