Challenge of long-term archiving of 3D CAD models
The technology of Computer Aided Design (CAD) has been used for more than 30 years for 3D design of machinery and plant engineering. 3D models are represented in the proprietary native data format of the creating CAD Software. Since the functionality of the 3D Software is increasing over time, the semantic representation of their 3D models is changing at the same time. The older the 3D model is, the more likely are defects while restoring the 3D geometry.
Partially, industrial products are in use for decades and the manufacturer has to ensure the maintenance in operation. Especially, in issues of product liability the 3D models have to be restorable to stand up in court. A defective product definition would be unacceptable. Many industrial companies underestimate the issue of 3D-archiving because, even today, the result of the 3D-CAD based design process is often a technical drawing in 2D.
Currently, the situation is changing. The complex geometry of the latest products can’t be fully described by 2D drawings, since their free-form geometry is generated by software algorithms. Furthermore, companies are increasingly keen to use 3D documents for their production processes to become ready for digitization of the production, in Germany also known as “Industrie 4.0”.
LOTAR: long-term archiving in the aerospace industry
For the certification of safety-critical components in the aerospace industry particular requirements are imposed. To obtain the aviation approval, the aircraft manufacturers have to prove the product documentation of safety-critical components. In the future, aviation authorities (FAA, EASA, LBA, …) will demand a product documentation according to the standard “LOng Term Archiving and Retrieval – LOTAR”. In order to fulfill future regulatory requirements and to minimize the risk of a gap in the certification process, some companies already implement IT systems for long-term archiving of 3D CAD models which are conform to the LOTAR standard