Q&A: Keeping up with the U.S. Department of Defense Design Requirements

The United
States Department of Defense (DoD) has implemented a standard practice called MIL-STD-31000, that requires proper technical documentation to build, repair and maintain critical tools and equipment. I spoke with Rich Eckenrode, president of RECON Services Incorporated, Ed Miller, senior client executive, Federal at SolidWorks, and Yannick Chaigneau, senior territory technical manager at SolidWorks, to discuss the DoD’s initiative to require that technical data packages leverage 3D CAD models to store and provide specifications for individual components and product assemblies for procured products. These specifications will enable buyers to access product manufacturing information, technical manuals and cost estimation details throughout the product’s entire lifecycle.  Below are some excerpts from my interview.


How has model-based engineering evolved?

Eckenrode: Drawing standards have changed dramatically over just the last 20 years; tolerances applied are being looked at differently; quality assurance planning and practice has changed. In the early stages of CAD technology, the 2D drawings were still the master even though they were derivative of the 3D CAD models. Then software allowed designers to create 3D annotations called Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) inside the 3D model. This led to Model Based Definition (MBD) and Model Based Enterprise (MBE) which allows the 3D annotations to be reused in manufacturing plans and documentation such as maintenance manuals.

What is Model Based Definition (MBD)?

Eckenrode: MBD is a 3D annotated model and its associated data elements that fully provide the product definition in a manner that can be used effectively by all downstream customers in place of a traditional 2D drawing. The types of information it conveys includes GD&T, component level materials, assembly level bills of materials, engineering configurations, design intent, etc.

Model Based Enterprise (MBE) is a fully integrated and collaborative environment founded on 3D product definition detail and shared across the enterprise; to enable rapid, seamless, and affordable deployment of products from concept to disposal.

Why is the DoD adopting MBD/MBE?

Miller: The Technical Data Packages (TDP) used by the suppliers to document product specifications traditionally consisted of a 2D model which did not track or include all the data needed throughout a product’s lifecycle. 3D models help visualize all dimensions of a specific project and include assembly instructions, maintenance and repair information.  This saves engineering time and reduces manufacturing errors. MBD is also part of ASME Y14.41 and has already been adopted by industries like aerospace, automotive, defense and medical, and continues to grow.

Eckenrode: Many weapons platforms used by the DoD have lifecycles of 50, 90, and in the case of the Browning machine gun, more than 100 years. When trying to repair older systems, missing or incomplete TDPs can cause users to spend extra time and money re-designing a model. In some cases, potential suppliers decided not to bid on projects if they were not sure whether they could produce all the parts or satisfy modern manufacturing requirements and quality controls due to antiquated or ambiguous 2D information.

Chaigneau: Today we also have the technology that allows us to take advantage of the 3D technical data in new ways. Models can also be used for rapid prototyping and CNC, which can help reduce manufacturing errors. People can now access 3D from mobile devices, and in some cases the data can also be manipulated (zoom, rotate) to get different perspectives.

How does SolidWorks help comply with DoD’s initiative to provide full transparency into design

Chaigneau: Using SolidWorks, customers can create models that have MBD in the form of 3D annotations. The 3D model provides the government or any company with engineering, manufacturing, or inspection practices that contain or utilize CAD data, with information that can be reused throughout the product’s lifecycle in applications like manufacturing planning
and documentation, and technical manuals.

Designing with SolidWorks solutions makes it easier for users to extract information to comply with the government’s regulations, while increasing opportunities for suppliers. If the government requests quotations with an MBD format, SolidWorks users have the ability to easily share TPD for an accurate cost estimate. Tools like SolidWorks eDrawings, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and SolidWorks Composer help users visualize various aspects of a specific project.  Solidworks also a number of 3rd party solutions partners to support the MBE philosophy.

More information is available at:

Kristen Wilson

Kristen Wilson

Senior Manager Brand Offer Marketing, SolidWorks at Dassault Systemes
As the Senior Director of Communications, 3DEXPERIENCE Works, Kristen drives marketing strategy and oversees the team responsible for developing and executing multi-touch marketing plans across the Buyer's Journey, including 3DEXPERIENCE World.
Kristen Wilson
Kristen Wilson