The race is on for product development organizations today. With competition coming from all regions globally, organizations today are under constant pressure to not only be innovative, but to design and build products faster than ever in order to remain competitive. What makes this task even harder is the fact that engineers must constantly juggle product data created in multiple CAD systems.
With design collaboration with suppliers, partners, and customers being a key component of today’s product design, the use of multiple CAD systems has become the norm. As a result, companies must become proficient at working with CAD data in multiple formats in order to succeed.
Not only must they be able to send and receive data in multiple CAD formats, but also they must be able to quickly get to work on that CAD data without having to rebuild models from scratch or waste too much time fixing data to get clean geometry.
On average, companies use 2.7 different CAD systems internally. Here’s another daunting statistic: nearly half (49%) of companies struggle with importing models created in other CAD tools into their 3D CAD system, and another 59% say modifying imported models from other CAD tools is difficult using their CAD software.
Vital design cycle time is wasted when models must be recreated; yet making changes to those models is also problematic as intelligent features and patterns built in by feature-based CAD authoring systems are often lost once imported into another CAD system. So what is a company to do when navigating through multi-CAD environments?
Mapping out your multi-cad environment
The first step is often to fully evaluate your current product development environment. Often engineering managers are often in the dark as to how many different CAD systems are being used internally as well as by their suppliers.
The first step in creating a roadmap or a set of best practices is to query your design engineers and your supply chain to get a thorough understanding of exactly what CAD systems are being used in house. Here are a few questions that need answering before engineering management can fully assess the challenges presented in multi-cad environments.
3 What CAD systems are currently being deployed internally and by suppliers?
3 What CAD system is being primarily used by a largest group of engineers internally?
3 What is driving the need to support multiple types of CAD?
3 When importing CAD data from other formats into the primary CAD system, what are the current challenges being encountered?
3 What actions are being taken currently to resolve these problems? (models are being recreated, third-party software is being used to “fix” geometry, etc.)
3 What capabilities and technology enables are in place in house to support a multi-CAD environment (visualization tools, direct translators, neutral file formats)?
3 Is all CAD data centrally located?
Putting a plan in place
Once you’ve assessed your current multi-CAD environment, it’s time to put a plan in place to deal with its challenges. There are a number of new CAD technologies that address many of the issues companies face when dealing with CAD data in multiple formats.
Many CAD systems now offer visualization import capabilities that facilitate cleaner import of 3D models from other CAD systems, reducing the need to clean-up geometry or recreate models. Some CAD systems now also now recognize more of the intelligence created in the original CAD software, facilitating users’ ability to make changes to imported geometry.
In addition, there are CAD capabilities that automatically recognize when changes are made to an imported CAD model by another CAD application and associatively makes the updates to the model.
Though these new capabilities don’t completely remove the obstacles faced by organizations in dealing with multi-CAD environments, it does reduce some of the time wasted by engineers fixing or cleaning up geometry imported by other CAD systems or recreating models.
For more information on working in multi-CAD environments, download the free eBook “Multi-CAD, Unified Design.”