The vBOM is a visual BOM (Bill of Materials). It includes parts that reflect the geometrical representation of an artifact as closely as possible. The vBOM takes much more effort to create than a BOM listing.
Going through the creation of a complete vBOM prior to building ensures that one accounts for all the parts - no parts missing or excess parts when buying materials.
The usefulness of a visual BOM lies mostly in the buildability of an artifact. Ideally, the CAD in an assembly is downloaded from various part libraries from suppliers. This assures that the CAD is accurate and sourcable - therefore buildable. In design, when working with off-the-shelf parts - it is easy to run into errors when inaccurate part CAD is used. That can be a difference between parts fitting together in the real build - vs not. The CAD Trap occurs when you everything is good in the design, but parts don't fit in real life.
To automate creation of Visual BOMs - a FreeCAD Visual BOM module would need to be created to add hyperlinks to designs. Sourcing links would need to be added to the parts as metadata. The Visual BOM module would also have the functionality of creating a complete BOM that can be used readily for sourcing, in the form of a printable spreadsheet.
Note that another version of a Visual BOM can be pictures of all the parts. In this case, this is Visual because it is actual pictures - but some of the parts may be obscured if parts are assembled into modules. An example is this - part inventory
- Every single part of the hardware being developed must be shown
- Every part has a direct link to that part's sourcing, such as an online store
- Link can be a text link or image link. If image link, make the outer image line blue to indicate that there is a link, as this is not visible just by looking at the picture.
- BOM and vBOM must be reconciled - the parts should match.
- BOM contains additional information. vBOM focuses on graphical representation for quick study of hardware make-up.
- A vBOM serves as a foundation for an Exploded Part Diagram and Exploded Part Animation in FreeCAD
Note: parts with blue border are hyperlinked. Complete BOM and required numbers of parts, as well as parts completeness, can be obtained from this diagram.
Example showing every single part. Each part should be hyperlinked. Make it so if it isn't.
- Another example - Check this diagram with a table of parts and links below - https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1PXq6r1Hifq6TUCGlNmoXWx0F3-DQwjtVi-pe5dm0ma0/edit
- Method provides a self-verifiable transparancy when sourcing parts, so that when you are at a store, you can tell more easily if you missed something.
- If using editable docs, these can be updated on a continuing basis.
- They provide a direct connection between a design and its component parts. Analysis of a vBOM can inform one readily whether a part is missing from a design.
- vBOMs take more effort to produce