Solving the Multi-CAD Problem


We’ve been talking recently on this blog about the headaches that come from working in a multi-CAD world. Your engineers are happy with their CAD system, but it’s not the same system that many of your legacy files were created in. Add partners and clients to the mix, and the cornucopia of file types that you have to upload could make any computer system rebel.

But the truth is, design and manufacturing are rarely done in a mono-CAD environment in which everyone agrees to use the same software. And that’s how it should be. You want to choose your suppliers and partners based on service, products, costs, and vision–not on CAD compatibility.

Still, problems with creating products from multiple CAD systems are just about as old as 3D modeling itself. CAD software has been developed for decades on different foundations (or “kernels”) and with different ways of recognizing (or not recognizing) features.  So when you try to import a model from an outside source, there is a lot that can go wrong. In fact, it’s not uncommon for engineers to simply start from scratch and recreate the entire model in a friendly CAD system rather than adapt an “outsider” CAD file.

Over the years, there have been many attempts to reconcile these discrepancies so that you could more easily work with your supplier’s CAD data. Software vendors and others have come up with ideas like:

  • Sell everyone the same software.
  • Create a neutral file format that everyone can save to, open, and modify (think STEP and IGES).
  • Offer individual translators for any popular formats that the customer anticipates using in the future.

The first idea didn’t go as well as some had hoped. But, the last two ideas actually provided partial, if incomplete, solutions.

In this episode of The Product Design Show, Vince and Allison talk about how the newest generation of CAD systems manages the multi-CAD product development environment by using the best of these ideas and some newer innovations. Watch it here:


Also, make sure to visit our Multi-CAD Resource Center for information about how PTC Creo ensures your success in a modern heterogeneous CAD world.

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