Intelligent CAD models. A single source for manufacturing data and greater ROI.

Designers spend up to 33% of their time on creating and modifying 2D designs.

Tech Clarity

As a professional Design Engineer I can confirm this statistic. I was trained to create 2D drawings for manufacturing from the 3D CAD models I had previously created. They were intended as a snapshot of a product design revision and as such, any changes or updates to the CAD model would need to be followed by an update to the related drawings.

Generating the drawings is always the easy part when you have already invested time in creating a 3D CAD model, it’s the detailing, dimensioning and tolerance annotations that are cumbersome. Updating these is a manual, labour-intensive task prone to human error and inefficient use of an Engineer’s time. Whether you have a single product line or many, the cycle of iteration, updates and changes over time mean Engineer’s will be burdened by the process, not inspired, leading to lower productivity and low morale.

No more 2D drawings

The immediate answer is to remove 2D drawings altogether but a need to somehow translate the design to the manufacturing department remains. Well, you have already created a 3D CAD model, organised in parts, components, sub-assemblies and parent assemblies. You have also dimensioned it within the foundational sketches of the 3D model. In other words, you have done most of the work in producing the ‘data’. Can we simply use this data as a starting point, append additional tolerancing information and push this on without accompanying 2D drawings.

Yes, we can.

The model can be visualised as a stand-alone 3D CAD model with all the product manufacturing information (PMI) needed on a stand-alone device for a tool / machine operator to dictate how to set their equipment up. Alternatively the 3D CAD model can be provided in a machine-readable format to process from directly. Think automation.

The additional benefit to note is the fact that the CAD model is the very latest version – every time any change or update is made! This re-use of CAD model data is the single, most intelligent management and use of the Engineer’s time.

The pilot project

To benefit from the cost, time and error savings an organisation is not expected to push the big red button, stopping all of its production lines for the next 5 years. Instead a pilot project needs to be strategically planned and started alongside existing development.

As a Design Engineer using SolidWorks CAD software for component design, detailing and drawing I know just how tedious development is. Tools to integrate PMI instead of generating and maintaining 2D drawings in a fast-paced organisation should be the norm. We must seek ways and means of improving CAD processes, our ability to iterate faster and the transition to manufacturing. Too many organisations are still inefficient.

#model-based definition #MBD #2ddrawings #intelligentcad #advancedmanufacturing

Post written by:
Founder / Senior Mechanical Design Consultant @ CADMATE LTD
Spent over a 12 years working with professional manufacturing and design businesses in and around London, UK. Fascinated by intricate mechanisms, CAD software, manufacturing technology and C++ programming. Use SolidWorks CAD daily and still like to take pencil to paper once in a while. Always great to hear of your design and manufacturing experiences. Contact me if I can be of any help!

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