SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PREFLIGHTING A COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN FILE CORRESPONDING TO A TOOL FOR PROCESSING SHEET MEDIA
1. A method for performing a design rule check of a computer aided design (CAD) file, the CAD file corresponding to a geometry of a tool for use in a process for making an article from a starting material, the method comprising:
- (a) storing in a computer memory one or more design rules in computer code readable by a design rule checking (DRC) module of a computer processor, the one or more design rules comprising at least one process operation inefficiency design rule applicable to the CAD file and defined to avoid an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in a non-printing or non-platemaking operation of the process;
(b) processing the CAD file relative to the one or more stored design rules file using the DRC module;
(c) identifying a violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule,(d) automatically suggesting at least one design change responsive to the violation of the process inefficiency design rule;
(e) receiving a user input responsive to the suggested design change; and
(f) modifying the CAD file in response to the user input.
A method for performing a design rule check of a computer aided design (CAD) file corresponding to a geometry of a tool for use in a process for making an article from a starting material. Design rules defined to avoid a geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in a non-printing or non-platemaking operation of the process are stored in a computer. A design rule checking (DRC) module of the computer processes the CAD file relative to the stored design rules, identifies violations, automatically suggests design changes responsive to each violation, receives a user input responsive to suggested design changes, and modifies the CAD file in response to the user input. Non-transitory computer readable media containing code for implementing the method and related CAD systems are also described.
- 1. A method for performing a design rule check of a computer aided design (CAD) file, the CAD file corresponding to a geometry of a tool for use in a process for making an article from a starting material, the method comprising:
(a) storing in a computer memory one or more design rules in computer code readable by a design rule checking (DRC) module of a computer processor, the one or more design rules comprising at least one process operation inefficiency design rule applicable to the CAD file and defined to avoid an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in a non-printing or non-platemaking operation of the process; (b) processing the CAD file relative to the one or more stored design rules file using the DRC module; (c) identifying a violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule, (d) automatically suggesting at least one design change responsive to the violation of the process inefficiency design rule; (e) receiving a user input responsive to the suggested design change; and (f) modifying the CAD file in response to the user input.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
- 22. An article of manufacture comprising non-transitory computer readable media programmed with computer program code readable by a computer, the code comprising instructions for performance by a computer processor, including:
(a) instructions for causing the computer processor to store in a computer memory one or more design rules in computer code readable by a design rule checking (DRC) module of the computer processor, the one or more design rules comprising at least one process operation inefficiency design rule applicable to the CAD file and defined to avoid an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in a non-printing or non-platemaking operation of the process; (b) instructions for causing the DRC module to process the CAD file relative to the one or more stored design rules file; (c) instructions for causing the DRC module to identify a violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule, (d) instructions for causing the DRC module to automatically suggest at least one design change responsive to the violation of the process inefficiency design rule; (e) instructions for causing the DRC module to receive a user input responsive to the suggested design change; and (f) instructions for causing the DRC module to modify the CAD file in response to the user input.
- 23. A computer aided design (CAD) system for designing an article for manufacture from a starting material using a tool in a process, the method comprising:
a computer processor having a design rule checking (DRC) module; a user interface configured to enable a user to interactively provide a user input; a computer memory, the computer memory configured to store (a) one or more design rules in a format readable by the DRC module and (b) a CAD file that defines a geometry for the tool, the one or more design rules comprising at least one process inefficiency rule corresponding to an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in a non-printing or non-platemaking operation of the process; wherein the DRC module is configured to; evaluate the CAD file relative to the one or more design rules; identify in the CAD file one or more violations of the at least one process inefficiency design rule; automatically suggest at least one design change responsive to each identified violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule; process a user input received in responsive to the suggested design change; modify the CAD file in response to the user input.
- View Dependent Claims (24, 25, 26)
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/753,209, filed Oct. 31, 2018, and to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/877,178, filed Jul. 22, 2019, and to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/886,436, filed Aug. 14, 2019, all of which are titled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PREFLIGHTING A COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN FILE CORRESPONDING TO A TOOL FOR PROCESSING SHEET MEDIA, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
Die cutting, such as with a die board or Steel Rule Die (SRD), is well known in the art for cutting shapes from sheets of corrugated or flat plastic or paperboard, as well as from other materials, such as gasket materials, chipboard, fabrics and felts, foam (open cell or closed cell), natural and synthetic rubbers, thin metals (i.e. 0.005 or less), wood (e.g. cork), acrylic, composites, fiberglass, magnets, sponges, or any other flat material suitable for cutting, found in the industry.
The manufacture of packaging, particularly consumer goods packaging made from sheet media such as cardboard, plastic, and the like, often involves die cutting processes. As shown in
Nomenclature relating to SRD tools is understood to those of skill in the art, but is discussed here for clarity, with reference to
The term “caliper” refers to the thickness of a sheet of material to be cut. The term “conversion” is typically understood to be the process for converting a “board” (or panel or sheet of starting material, such as corrugated cardboard) into a packaging unit, and may include printing, cutting, folding, and/or a gluing operation steps. In addition to the use of SRD in a flatbed press, SRD structures may also be used in a rotary cutter design. Packaging may also be created using what is known as a Flexo Folder Gluer (FFG). This type of packaging does not use SRD. Instead a long web roll of paper is run through a corrugator and combined to form a corrugated web. The corrugated web is scored in the machine direction using scoring wheels and slits to reduce the web into sheets of desired sizes for later processing. The sheets are fed into the FFG, where printing, slots and transverse scores are applied and folded.
Designers of packaging or point of sale displays to be created from shapes die cut from sheet media often produce designs and layouts without full knowledge of best manufacturing practices. This may lead to design cycles that are longer and more iterative than necessary, inefficient usage of the die press when cutting the media, and inconsistent quality across the design staff of a particular design firm. The performance and efficiency of the die press is largely based on the quality of the design and the cutting die. The quality of the cutting die is impacted by the structural design of the shape to be cut. Therefore, there is a need in the industry to help designers identify potential production issues in their structural designs before the design is released for estimating or production.
Designers of packaging and displays typically use computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating the designs to be manufactured, and those same CAD design files are used by a die making system in the manufacture of the dies. ArtiosCAD™ software, manufactured by Esko Software BVBA, the assignee of the present invention, is a popular such CAD program targeted to the packaging industry. Although the ArtiosCAD software has features that permit conducting routine “preflight” checking, also called design rules checking (DRC), and preflight checking has been in prevalent use in the printing and platemaking industries for many years, the rules pertaining to such routine design checks of the CAD file in ArtiosCAD tend to be aimed at detection of geometric anomalies in the design file, particularly design files imported from other sources, including anomalies such as overruns (where one line extends slightly beyond the point at which it intersects another line), underruns (where an endpoint of a line falls slightly short of the intersection of the line with another line), double lines, short lines and near intersections. The foregoing terms are well understood by those of skill in the art. Additional known rules performed as part of routine DRC operations are detailed in F05-14-04 Designer'"'"'s Fixit (previously known as Diemaker'"'"'s Fixit), Rev. 0.01, dated Oct. 26, 1999, updated Jan. 20, 2008, incorporated herein by reference.
Routine DRC rules as described in the foregoing reference are “geometric anomalies” that may indicate an unintended element of the design that a designer may want to fix to ensure the design as actually embodied in the CAD file is exactly what the designer intended. As noted above, however, certain attributes of a die design may introduce inefficiencies in the die or dieboard manufacturing process or finishing processes downstream of the cutting operation that do not render the dies inoperable or entirely corrupt the process for manufacturing the die, but may significantly decrease the throughput of the process in which the die is used or increase the manufacturing time or degrade the reliability of the die or dieboard relative to more efficient designs. Thus, such designs may be exactly what the designer intended, but the designer may be unaware of inefficiencies of the intended design on the cutting step, on finishing operations downstream of the cutting step or in the manufacture of the die or dieboard. Thus, there is a need in the art to help designers identify and remedy such inefficiencies.
One aspect of the invention is a method for performing a design rule is check of a computer aided design (CAD) file, the CAD file corresponding to a geometry of a tool, such as but not limited to steel rule die, for use in a process for making an article from a starting material. The method comprises storing in a computer memory one or more design rules in computer code readable by a design rule checking (DRC) module of a computer processor, the one or more design rules comprising at least one process operation inefficiency design rule applicable to the CAD file. The at least one process operation inefficiency design rule is defined to avoid an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool documented as causing an inefficiency in the process, such as but not limited to a geometry known to increase processing time in a process operation relative to a more efficient geometry when used in the process. The CAD file is processed relative to the one or more stored design rules file using the DRC module, and a violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule is identified. The method comprises the DRC module automatically suggesting at least one design change responsive to the violation of the process inefficiency design rule, receiving a user input responsive to the suggested design change, and modifying the CAD file in response to the user input.
The CAD file may define a design comprising an individual periphery to be cut with the tool and/or a layout comprising a plurality of individual peripheries nested on a single sheet. In a packaging-manufacture process, the process operation inefficiency design rule corresponds to an inefficiency in a step for manufacturing a cutting tool or in a converting process that includes at least a cutting step using the cutting tool. The converting process step may comprise a finishing step downstream of the cutting step comprising a waste stripping or waste ejection step, a gluing step, or a scoring step. Cutting a sheet of the starting material using the tool may create a cut shape for further processing and at least one section of waste, in which case the process includes ejecting the at least one section of waste from the cut shape. The converting may also include scoring at least one portion of the cut shape to create a scored shape without fully perforating the cut shape, folding the cut shape and gluing at least one portion of the cut shape to another portion of the cut shape, or a combination of cutting and folding. The process may further comprise forming an article of packaging from the cut shape after scoring, folding, and/or gluing.
Another aspect of the invention comprises an article of manufacture comprising non-transitory computer readable media programmed with computer program code readable by a computer for instructing the computer to perform the method as described herein.
Still another aspect of the invention comprises a computer aided design (CAD) system for designing an article for manufacture from a starting material using a tool in a process. The system comprises a computer processor having a design rule checking (DRC) module; a user interface configured to enable a user to interactively provide a user input; and a computer memory. The computer memory is configured to store (a) one or more design rules in a format readable by the DRC module and (b) a CAD file that defines a geometry for the tool. The one or more design rules comprising at least one process inefficiency rule corresponding to an inefficient but not inoperable geometry of the tool. The DRC module is configured to evaluate the CAD file relative to the one or more design rules, identify in the CAD file one or more violations of the at least one process inefficiency design rule, automatically suggest at least one design change responsive to each identified violation of the at least one process inefficiency design rule, process a user input received in responsive to the suggested design change, and modify the CAD file in response to the user input.
Referring now to the figures, various embodiments of the invention are directed to a design rules checker, and method of design rules checking, for computer aided design (CAD) files, including but not limited to two-dimensional (2D) files, corresponding to the geometry of a die, such as a steel rule die, for cutting a sheet of material, such as for creating a package. While not limited to any particular process or operations in such a process for making an article, the focus of the subject invention relates to non-printing and non-platemaking operations. It should be noted that the term “design rule” as used herein relates to the definition of the term “rule” as a regulation governing the design, and the term “steel rule” as used herein relates to the definition of “rule” as a strip of rigid material for making a straight line. Although the term “steel rule” is used for clarity and differentiation, it should be understood that use of this term is not intended to be limiting as to the materials of construction for the rules, which may be steel or any other material known in the art to be suitable for use as a “rule” for cutting, creasing, perforating, etc. At times, the term “rule” may be used alone, where the context should be clear to the reader as to which type of “rule” is being referenced.
Referring now to
Step 1020 entails processing the CAD file 108 with a design rule checking (DRC) module 110 using rules file 102. If the DRC module identifies one or more violations of a process inefficiency rule in step 1030, it suggests at least one design change responsive to the rule violation in step 1040. Suggested improvements to address process inefficiency rule violations are preferably not automatically implemented, as there may be other reasons why the designer cannot deviate from the inefficient design or remedies for the inefficient design preferred by the designer of the suggested design change. More than one suggestion may be provided where there is more than one possible design change that may improve efficiency. For example, the steps of identifying the rule violation and suggesting the improvement may comprise providing to a user a textual description of the violation and how a change might improve the finishing operation. For example, the software may inform the user that “rounded corners would improve waste ejection and press performance.”
Step 1050 comprises receiving a user input responsive to each suggested design change (i.e. accepting or declining the suggested change). The user input may be provided in the form of a selection indicated via a user interface 120 (e.g. a mouse/trackball 124 or other cursor controller, a touchscreen 126, or key stroke entered via a keyboard 122 (physical or virtual) or any type of character entry interface, including but not limited to speech-based interfaces and interfaces configured to accept instructions other than in form of keystrokes (e.g. tongue operated or eye operated devices for disabled users). For a suggested improvement for a process inefficiency rule violation, if a user declines to make a change in response to receiving notice of the violation, the system will not require a change before the user can complete the design rules check. The system may continue to note the process inefficiency rule violations in subsequent iterations, but may differentiate violations that have already been reviewed and declined, from those that are detected for the first time.
Then, in step 1060, the system modifies the CAD file 108 to reflect any suggested design changes (to fix geometric anomalies and finishing operation inefficiencies) authorized via the user input. The modified CAD file 108 may then be shared with a tool making system 150, such as a steel rule die manufacturing machine. The tool making system reads the modified CAD file 108 and, in step 1070, makes the tool (i.e. a steel rule die and backing plate) having the geometry dictated by the modified CAD file.
In step 1080, the tool (e.g. the die ; backing plate) is used in a first step of a multi-step process for creating the article defined by the CAD file. In a package- or display-making operation, in which a sheet material is cut using a die, step 1080 comprises cutting a cut shape (or a plurality of cut shapes) using the die made in step 1070. In this step, the tool (e.g. the die) contacts the starting material (e.g. a panel of starting sheet material such as cardboard, plastic, or any material listed herein above or known for use in connection with a die cutting operation for packaging). In step 1090, downstream of step 1080, the article made in step 1080 is further processed by one or more downstream processing machines 170. In the case of a die cut shape, one exemplary downstream processing machines may be configured to score the cut shape(s), such as to create lines on which the shape will be folded in a later step or to create a glue-assist feature for holding glue. In other embodiments, at least some scored features may be created using the die in the cutting step. Another exemplary downstream processing machine (or module thereof) may be configured to fold the cut shape into a desired shape, and another may be for applying glue to one or more portions of the cut shape thereby creating a glued shape in which the folded configuration of the cut shape is set with an adhesive. The invention is not limited to any particular steps or processing machines or modules downstream of the cutting step, however, the universe of which is well-known to those of skill in the art.
It should be understood that the DRC module may also identify one or more violations of a geometric anomaly detection rule, and may also suggest a design change responsive to each violation of a geometric anomaly detection rule. While in some embodiments, the DRC module may automatically implement certain design changes to overcome violations of geometric anomaly detection design rules, it is generally more desirable to provide a suggestion that requires an affirmative election by a user. More than one suggestion may be provided where there is more than one possible modification that may overcome the violation. Unlike the case for a process inefficiency rule, for a suggested improvement for a violation of a geometric anomaly detection rule, if a user declines to make the suggested change, the designer may have to make some other change that addresses the rule violation before the user can complete the design rules check. The user may choose to address the violation in a different way, such as by making a change known to the design to overcome the problem in a way not suggested by the software.
In preferred embodiments, for each identified violation of a process inefficiency rule, the system may automatically provide to the user information regarding the impact of the rule violation and/or the impact of the suggested improvement. For example, the system may provide an estimated impact on the processing time of the sheet corresponding to implementation of the suggested design change. Information regarding the estimated impact may include an estimate of a production efficiency differential between the original design having the process inefficiency rule violation identified by the DRC module and the design improvement suggested by the DRC module. Such a differential may include, for example, an increase in production associated with the suggested design change relative to the original design, expressed as an estimated reduction of manufacturing time of the die or an estimated increase in package units produced per unit time. For example, the system may advise the user that the suggested improvement is expected to provide up to 100 units per hour more production from a single layout, or a percentage increase in throughput. Information about the estimated impact may also be provided in the form of a link to a storage location of an online instructional audio-visual file explaining the impact, such as a link programmed with a universal resource locator (URL) operative to retrieve an audio-video (AV) file from YouTube® or a similar repository of files. In the alternative, the AV file may be locally stored on a network, accessible from local storage media (e.g. a DVD or flash drive), or provided in any way known in the art, and may have any structure or format known in the art.
Computer system 100 operable to perform the method may comprise any computer equipped with a processor and operating system suitable for operating the CAD software comprising the rules checking module 110. The CAD file 108 and rules files 104 may be stored on any type of computer-readable media known in the art, including a hard drive, a flash drive, or removable digital media. The computer system comprises one or more devices such as a keyboard 122 and mouse 124, operable by a user to provide user inputs, and a display 126 (which may or may not be a touchscreen display capable of also receiving user inputs). The overall user interface 120 includes a graphical user interface (GUI) displayed on the display 126 that enables a user to see and create the design and select various types of operations typical to CAD software. The computer system may be implemented on a single machine, or the various components may be connected to one another over a computer network, including a local network or a global communications network in which, for example, files are stored or processing is performed “in the cloud.” The software may be downloadable, non-downloadable, or a combination thereof, in which a “thin” portion resides on a user'"'"'s local computer (which may include a tablet computer of other mobile device), and a more robust portion of the executable processing power resides on a server accessible via a computer network.
An exemplary commercial offering for ArtiosCAD 2D may be operable on a computer having at least an Intel® Core 2 Duo processor, with 2.4 GHz speed, 4 GB of Random Access Memory (RAM), and available hard drive space of 10 GM+1 GB on the C Drive. Preferred displays have at least 1024×768 resolution at 16-bit color depth. A connection to the Internet suitable for using the TCP/IP v4 communication protocol is preferred. Although the manufacture of steel rule dies typically requires only a 2D CAD file, the invention is not limited to the files for designing any particular type of tool, nor to any limitation upon the capabilities of the CAD system in which the novel DRC steps described herein are performed. Accordingly, the method and systems herein are also applicable to 3D CAD systems and methods. Versions of the software that include 3D capabilities and/or structured as enterprise editions may have additional requirements and/or recommendations, including faster processing speed, additional hard drive space, additional RAM, a graphics card and associated video drivers with suitable capabilities (e.g. at least 1 GB, with 2 GB+preferred, and OpenGL and Direct-X video driver compliant), and faster Internet speeds. Preferred hardware may include Hewlett Packard (HP) machines preconfigured with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware with a Legacy Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). The software may interface with a supported Databases, such as but not limited to various Microsoft® SQL Server (e.g. 2014, 2012, 2008, 2005 for 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems), and Oracle® (e.g. versions 9i or newer, including 12c) editions. Preferred Operating systems for the computer processor hardware include, but are not limited to various Windows® operating systems (e.g. Server 2016 Standard, 2016 Datacenter, 2016 R2 Standard, 2016 R2 Datacenter, 2012 Standard, 2012 Datacenter, 10 Pro, and 10 Enterprise versions).
As is known in the art, CAD files, such as 2D files corresponding to SRD designs, may be stored as a set of instructions that correspond to vector-based geometric definitions (“geometric vectors”) of each line or feature in the file. The geometric vectors may be stored in computer code as, for example, as a line between a first beginning point and a second end point, or an arc having a defined centerpoint, radius, and beginning and ending points. The instructions corresponding to each line or feature may be stored in any data structure known in the art, such as for example, a tree data structure. Most of the design rules discussed herein can be distilled to a specific geometric definition that can be identified in the stored data corresponding to the CAD file.
Various algorithms may be defined for working within the data structure of the CAD file. Using, for example, a “follow algorithm,” the software can follow along each line saved in the data structure, and consider its relationship with all other lines with respect to the set of design rules. For example, the follow structure may identify a second line that intersects the first line, calculate the angle between the two lines, and then identify any rules that include an intersecting angle between two lines for further review. That particular rule may have additional aspects, and the geometric relationship between the two lines may be further explored as to those aspects, once a threshold inquiry has been satisfied to trigger that further exploration. As another example, the follow structure may identify a second geometric feature spaced from the first line, and then check to see whether a space between the first line and the second feature meets a predetermined minimum spacing with respect to all aspects of the portions of the line.
As a way to speed processing time, the software may make a first superficial evaluation regarding relationships between the line being followed and all other lines, and excluding from further consideration any lines so far removed from the first line that no problematic geometric relationships indicative of a process rule violation are possible, and thus a more detailed evaluation is not needed. For example, if the starting point and ending point of the line being followed are more than a predetermined distance from the starting point and ending point of a second line to be considered, no mapping of the points between the starting and ending points need be conducted to determine whether the lines have a geometric relationship indicative of close spacing, or an intersection. After a first line has been subject to the “follow” algorithm along its full length, the software iteratively steps through the remaining lines in the CAD file until all lines have been checked relative to all other lines with respect to all rules selected for checking.
The design rules checking operation as described herein may be operative to check CAD files in the nature of a design file that defines the periphery of a single package, such as is illustrated in
Embodiments are discussed below in additional detail. Rules subject to design checking may relate to any aspect of a die cutting operation. Some rules may correlate to specific aspects of production. For example, a rule may dictate that the size of the panel (i.e. the sheet to be cut) must match the size capable of being processed on the production machine. At least some applicable design rules may be set by a user input of the relevant production machine (e.g. such as choosing it from a menu of applicable machines). Selection of the production machine may then cause certain rules and corresponding parameters to be enabled as a preset. Other production rules may include “overrun” (where the design or layout does not fit on the panel) or “underrun” (where the layout does not efficiently use all of the space available on the panel). These properties should not be confused with an overrun anomaly that occurs when a line extends slightly beyond the point at which it intersects another line, or an underrun anomaly that occurs when an endpoint of a line falls slightly short of the intersection of the line with another line, which is within the capability of some prior art CAD software (e.g. ArtiosCAD, as described above) pursuant to “routine” DRC operations.
“Short lines” may indicate lines that are smaller than a minimum line size, and “zero-size” may indicate lines that the user either intended to be larger, or intended to have deleted entirely, the presence of which may cause the die production unit to freeze. “Lines in the wrong layer” result when a designer may inadvertently place a feature in the annotation layer of a drawing, which is ignored by downstream conversion of the drawing into a physical die.
Other rules may relate to press performance. For example, rules may define a minimum distance between adjacent steel rules in the die, or where the end of a rule may be located. For example, as shown in
As shown in
As another example, as shown in
The design rules for use in a preflighting operation implemented by the s DRC module of embodiments of the invention are not limited to those described above, and may include any number of geometric anomaly detection and process inefficiency rules. Exemplary rules may include the following, which will be understood to those of skill in the art:
- Overrun/underrun, short lines, lines in wrong layer, zero-size
- Panel dimensions match production machine
- Press performance
- Distance between rule, end of rule, bridging (MFG)
- Min radii, min hole size, min rule length, sharp corners, narrow slots
- Internal cut lines not closed (slits)
- Rule pointage for board, pointage consistency, rule density
- Min waste area (MFG)
- Handling intersecting lines (open features)
- Distance between parallel lines (folding)
- Slot offset from crease (folding)
- Cut lines in glue flap, min glue area
- Double lines, gaps, overrun/underrun, multi-segment lines, Bezier segments
- Correction/edit tools for above errors
- BOM check
- Customer specific requirements
Novel additions to routine CAD preflighting or DRC operations, as implemented by embodiments of the present invention, focus on press performance, more robust die boards and better folder-gluing. For example, DRC embodiments of the present invention check against design rules relating to slots of different widths and shape for better waste expulsion off the press, and therefore increased production speed. Examination of glue tabs may focus on providing glue assistance features that penetrates but do not fully perforate (e.g. extending from a top surface to a bottom surface of the cut shape) the material instead of knife features that fully perforates the material, which may cause glue to seep through and stick to rollers in the press, ultimately causing finished cartons to stick together when stacked.
Examples of process inefficiency rules relating to dieboard stability, a design may have a feature that requires a first steel rule to terminate intentionally short of an intersecting steel rule (such as a crease to cut) by a small dimension X. If X is too small, a small strip of wood may be left in the dieboard that is subject to breakage under high pressure. Accordingly, the rule may specify a minimum value for X (e.g. ⅛ inches or 3.2 mm).
Similarly, parallel steel rules may need to be a certain dimension apart to avoid leaving a thin piece of wood between the parallel rules that can break under high pressure. Glue assist lines may have a minimum dimension (e.g. ⅛ inches or 3.2 mm) to avoid thin wood pieces, also. Parallel perforations (e.g. the opening feature on a tissue box) may permit closer rules with no rubber needed (e.g. between parallel rules), but may still define issuance of a warning. In the case of a construction in which both rules go into one slot in the die with a spacer lead in between, spacers are only available in multiples of 1 point (0.014 inch; 0.35 mm), and a rule may be implemented to ensure the spacing is consistent with availability of spacers. A more serious warning may be issued for a rule violation where the spacing does not confirm to a standard size spacer. The minimum dimension may be dependent upon the steel rule type (e.g. cut, crease, perforation), the caliper or construction of sheet material to be cut (e.g. double-wall corrugated, quad-wall corrugated), and/or the type of die cutting operation (e.g. flatbed or rotary).
The density of steel rules within a unit area may have a minimum value, such as when cutting corrugated material, to avoid too many cuts that may compromise the fluting strength in a defined area. The pointage (thickness) of the steel rules for cutting and creasing may each be set to a consistent size for a given material caliper, and that size may be dependent upon the type of material (e.g. pointage for creasing corrugated may be greater that for creasing another type of material). The steel rule for an embossing feature may have a different pointage than a creasing feature.
Other rules may relate to how to break intersecting straight lines in the design, and such rules may have priorities based on end user efficiencies. For example, as illustrated in
A rule may specify providing a crease at the end of a perforation in a channel, because land > 3/16″ does not fold. A “zipper” rule (for any combination of rule, perforation, cut/crease), a design rule may specific that the land length cannot be longer than the pattern allows. The last tooth of the perforation may need to be a separately cut rule (which may be too small for a bridge). Another design rule may prevent a nicks from being placed too close to a bridges (i.e. “a” as depicted in
Other rules may relate to flatbed press performance and speed. For example, a first minimum radius may be specified (which may be dependent upon caliper of the material to be processed) for corners, and a second minimum radius (or diameter) for internal holes. A rule may specify that internal cut lines that are not closed (e.g. a hole or, as depicted in
Other design rules that may impact press efficiency may identify a caliper of the material to be cut that exceeds the maximum or is less than the minimum design size for the press to be used. Some rules may be specific to the feedstock and press. For example, for certain presses for cutting corrugated cardboard, the spacing between rules should not be less than the flute pitch F of the corrugated medium.
Some design rules may relate to finishing operations further downstream, such as an assembly operation or folder/gluer. For example, an inefficiency rule may comparing interfacing slit and pin sizes to ensure the slot length is sufficiently large enough to accept the pin for insertion therein efficiently. As illustrated in
Some design rules may suggest the addition of supporting steel rules in the design. For example, as shown in
Some design rules may be applicable to the layout configuration when multiple individual cut shapes are laid out to be cut from a single sheet. For example, as shown in
Still other design rules may be based upon the specifications and capabilities of downstream equipment. For example, converting equipment is typically used for “regular slotted carton” (RSC)/“brown box” designs. An RSC has certain blank sizes, panel dimensions, etc. A company may have certain converting equipment with varying capabilities scattered among different plants. A design rule may be implemented to help a designer or customer service representative (CSR) or estimator, match the resulting design with machines in the company regardless of plant and ensure some machine can handle the design. In most cases, structural designers have no idea where the box will be produced. So ensuring the company has the ability to produce the box among a number of machines is needed as well as allowing the estimator/CSR/scheduler, to route/schedule the design to the proper plant. Therefore, for example, the minimum/maximum sizes of converting equipment available may be stored in the computer memory, so that the user can be notified of slitters/scorers within the company that can accommodate the design and receive a notification if the company is not capable of processing the RSC through its set of slitters/scorers. For example, some equipment cannot perform certain operations (e.g. reverse creasing, offset scorers cannot make scores in straight runs). Panel sequences and sizes of the RSC are determined and evaluated against the set of slitter/scorers capable of accommodating the job. Glue flap size may be evaluated to determine if it is in a required range and sufficient for the material. Thus, the software may have a dialog with a user during set up to enable specification of equipment or set of equipment on which the design will be produced.
Exemplary violations of process inefficiency design rules and corresponding suggested design changes responsive to those violations are set forth in Table 1.
The invention is not limited to the rule violations or the corresponding suggested changes as set forth in Table 1. Embodiments of the invention may feature some, none, or all of the following rule violations and some, none or all of the following suggested changes, and/or one or more of the following rules with a different corresponding suggested change. Thus, the table is intended only to be illustrative, and non-limiting. Furthermore, it should be understood that for each violation as expressed in the Table 1, a corresponding rule is objectively defined in machine-readable code that expresses geometric relationships and parametric values corresponding to elements of the design.
A preflight menu/dialog may be included in a graphical user interface (GUI) for the software, such as the exemplary GUI 900 depicted in
As an example of how embodiments of the present invention may provide value to a user,
As understood by those of skill in the art, a plurality of individual package structures are frequently laid out on a single sheet of media for cutting, as illustrated in the layout of three such structures 700, 702, and 704 in
For example, before implementation of design changes, area A of the layout results in ⅛″ slots between adjacent designs in the layout, which may lead to issues stripping the waste after cutting. Likewise, area C before implementation of design changes creates slots both with respect to the individual design, and with respect to side-by-side designs in the layout. Area E, before implementation of the design changes, creates slots only with respect to the individual design. Accordingly, the design rules checker may suggest improvements to modify the design to omit all of these slots. Area B of the layout, before changes to the design, features rounded corners, which the design rules checker may suggest replacing with 45-degree corners, which are easier and cleaner to cut. Area D shows a perforation in the original design 700 for which the suggested design change is to create a score, as scores can be made more quickly than perforations during manufacture. Area F illustrates a slot that arises where features of adjacent shapes come together in the layout, but to make waste stripping or waste ejection easier, the design checker may suggest making a design change to the shape that results in an increased slot width between adjacent designs in layout mode. Collectively, making all of the foregoing changes may increase throughput three- to four-fold. Again, while the rules underlying these types of changes are generally known in the art, such rules have not previously been embodied into automated design rules checking software, along with the other novel features of the invention as described herein.
As depicted in
Referring now to
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Sometimes anomalies are flagged that are exactly as the designer intended and should remain undisturbed, even if a rule is violated. An “accept” instruction, illustrated in the exemplary user interface depicted in
Software implementing the rule checking as described herein may also have an option for the user to “opt-in” to allow the information about designs and their preflight status to be recorded (e.g. on a cloud server administered by the software provider). The user (or the software company) can then create reports based on the data stored. Such analytics may give a sense of who/how/how often someone is using the CAD preflight to permit improvements and commercial decision-making.
For certain anomaly types, a quick fix-it option may be provided from the anomaly list. Such a feature allows an anomaly to be fixed without needing to resort to editing tools or visualization of the anomaly. Such an option may apply only to a relatively discrete set of anomalies, for which the decision to fix is unambiguous. Exemplary anomalies and their quick fixes may include, but are not limited to:
When lines can easily meet at an intersection, the user is preferably permitted to fix it, but if there is a misalignment or ambiguity as to the correct action, the user preferably is not be able to fix it. Selection of an “anomaly type” node may prompt a fix it message that permits selection of the option to “fix all,” as compared to selection of an individual anomaly that prompts a message just to “fix.” Section of one of the gap anomaly types may prompt a “fix if possible” to account for gap anomalies that are ambiguous, whereas selection of an individual gap anomaly that is ambiguous may not prompt the quick fix message at all, thus forcing the user to inspect in more detail. Exemplary anomalies governed by the foregoing may include:
When ambiguity exists for an anomaly type that could be fixed but cannot be in a particular situation, the node icon may present a visual cue to that effect. For example:
Embodiments of the present invention may enable packaging converters to reduce production errors and late-stage rework in their design by identifying potential production improvements early in the design phase. Implementing embodiments of the present invention may reduce unknowns and design changes between the packaging converter and the die vendor, thereby also reducing re-approval cycles and production delays.
Although the invention is illustrated and described herein with reference to specific embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the details shown. Rather, various modifications may be made in the details within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims and without departing from the invention.