Computer-aided design (CAD) software revolutionised the engineering industry like no other technology. While there has been wide-spread adoption of the software for design modelling, drawing and analysis it has not been used to its full potential within most businesses for one reason or another. Companies investing in CAD software systems often do so for the immediate benefits of ‘digitising’ their existing products and storing the intellectual property within their company vault. The design is never iterated again and even if it is, legacy data and previous workflows remain a nested part of their CAD update plan.
Large organisations with greater capital and more time (they may move slower), invest in CAD systems and workflows, achieving greater efficiency in using the software as well as the data it puts out. Extensive CAD libraries, modular components and assemblies, data-driven design and integrated manufacturing requirements planning (MRP) systems are features of an advanced manufacturing company. However, do not need to be exclusive to large organisations with budgets to match.
Modern 3D CAD software for mechanical engineering such as SolidWorks has been designed to organise CAD data in a very coherent, practical way. Some of the main features of SolidWorks include:
- Integrated data: capture and hold design and manufacturing parameters, part numbers and any custom data within the model file itself.
- Geometrical data: the ability to use automatically generated data from the CAD model geometry directly.
- Material, weight and cost: extract data based on CAD part volume.
- API interface: exclusive programming interface allows linking any data to external outputs.
This is all available to businesses of any size. Whether you need to generate a complete Bill of Materials (BoM) with all component manufacturing data or need to extract costings for resource planning downstream, a careful, knowledgeable adoption of CAD software allows anyone to take advantage and increase their manufacturing efficiency.