The Future of Data Transfer Standards for Additive Manufacturing: Insights from an ISO Meeting in Berlin

Eujin Pei, lead on the 3DP-RDM feasibility study “Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM” is a guest contributor for this post. The delay in publishing is mine – apologies.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee for Additive Manufacture (ISO TC261) held its 6th Plenary Meeting in Berlin on 14th July 2015 and I chaired the Working Group 4 session.

It was a productive session where we invited members of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F42) to participate in discussions related to Design and Data Transfer guidelines. This is in line with earlier agreements for ISO and ASTM to form joint plans for Additive Manufacturing standards development to ensure that we have aligned standard roadmaps common to ISO TC261 and ASTM F42.

During the WG4 meeting, I presented the 3DP-RDM project. It was well received by the committee members and we discussed the changing manufacturing landscape with the advent of Cloud Manufacturing, De-centralised Production and the plethora of CAD data standards. We discussed the purpose of the 3DP-RDM work, which is to investigate the interfaces between machine systems and to understand the digital chain of information.

We reviewed the AFNOR (Association Française de Normalisation) document that outlined existing data exchange standards for Additive Manufacturing consisting of ISO/DIS 17296-4 “Additive Manufacturing – Rapid Technologies Part 4: Data Processing” that covers principal considerations for data exchange and AM data workflow. The ISO/ASTM 52915:2013 document on “Additive Manufacturing File Format (AMF)” describes a framework for this file format for Additive Manufacturing; and ISO/DIS 10303-242 on “Industrial automation systems and integration – Product data representation and exchange – Part 242” is a STEP standard that will replace AP203 (mechanical parts and assemblies) and AP214 (automotive mechanical design processes). Finally, ISO 14649-17 and 171 on “Industrial automation systems and integration – Physical device control – Data model for computerized numerical controllers – Part 17: Additive Manufacturing” defines a new STEP-NC data model being adapted for Additive Manufacturing requirements.

We also discussed existing and new file formats from leading vendors such as Adobe that offers 3D Printing support in the form of a 3D PDF file or SVX format, or as 3D printer profile files (3PP files). The committee also recognised that Microsoft and Autodesk have been strongly advocating a new .3MF format with their 3MF Consortium.

Alain Bernard, reported on the adhoc group activities that include investigating existing formats such as AMF, STEP, STEP-NC and 3MF, with key questions such as what is the aim of the standard? What problem is being solved? At what stage of the manufacturing process does it apply and what is the status of the standard being adopted in the industry? The committee agreed that the findings would contribute to the 3DP-RDM work and we were informed that there would be an ISO/TC 184/SC 4 Meeting in October 18-23 2015 taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

There would be a Digital Manufacturing Day on 21st October that would include a workshop on digital manufacturing to investigate standards for “wiring up” the digital manufacturing world. Questions such as how are we going to communicate design requirements? What will be expected of the supply chain and how will we make 3D data for the new advanced machines will be discussed during the symposium. We have seen a greater interest in the future of data transfer standards for Additive Manufacturing and we welcome your input through informal discussions.

For more information please contact Dr Eujin Pei, Convenor ISO TC261/WG4

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