December 17, 2008

Nanotechnology Pioneer Streamlines Process with Autodesk Digital Prototyping

San Rafael, Calif. - Elmarco Ltd. (Elmarco), a Czech-based manufacturer of industrial machines for the production of nanofibers that was named Autodesk Inventor of the Month for November 2008, relied on Autodesk Inventor software to develop its Nanospider line of machines, which make the production of nanofiber textiles possible on an industrial scale.
Nanofiber textiles are breathable, but have pore sizes that are small enough to prevent micro particles, bacteria, or even viruses from passing through, making it ideal for air-filtration systems in medical settings or in chip fabrication plants.

The Inventor of the Month program recognizes the most innovative design and engineering advancements made by the community using Autodesk Inventor software for Digital Prototyping. A digital prototype allows users to design, visualize, and simulate a product before it is built, reducing reliance on constructing multiple physical prototypes.

Many times smaller than a human hair, nanofibers have a diameter of 200 to 500 billionths of a meter. The Nanospider machine produces these nanofibers through a patented electrospinning process, in which a rotating drum is partially submerged in a polymer solution and placed in a high-intensity electrostatic field. The resulting nanofibers are desirable for filtration and acoustic applications.

Autodesk Inventor played a role in helping Elmarco simplify the concept-to-manufacturing process of the Nanospider machines that mass-produce these nanofibers. The 12-member Elmarco design team uses Inventor to create 3D models of the spinning units and the overall machine body that it can easily share with other members of the organization, or reuse for later designs.

For the remaining 20 percent of the parts that must be custom developed--such as chemical distribution vehicles--Elmarco takes advantage of the piping and tubing functionality in Inventor software, which helps pipe runs comply with design standards. Streamlining the process further, models of purchased components can be imported into Inventor to complete the final assembly. Because the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping employs a single digital model through all stages of production, it allows Elmarco to use Inventor software's visualization tools to give demonstrations of the machine to customers, decreasing review times and improving Elmarco customers' understanding of the design.