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Concurrent Engineering Blog

How to Solve the Problem of Working in a Multi-CAD Environment

Posted by Emma Rudeck on 06-Jun-2014 12:02:00

Working from 3D models from another CAD system can derail your product design schedule. But the fact is that working in a multiple CAD environment is becoming increasingly important for companies. As a result, companies need to have a system or tool in place to help them cope with the challenges that are associated with multi-CAD.

What are the problems associated with multi-CAD?

In a perfect world, all of your suppliers, partners and customers would be using the same CAD system. This would mean that collaboration would be straightforward. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. It is not how the product design world works. Different companies use different CAD packages and you have to accommodate this as part of your product development.

For a long time now, this has led to major problems when having to work in a multi-CAD environment.

multi-CAD modelIt boils down to the fact that not all 3D models are created the same. Take, for example, the model to the right. If it was created in software A, it’s rounds and features would be calculated using one method. But, if the same model were created in software B, its features would be calculated in a different way.

So, if you import this model from software A into software B, all of the geometry would be interpreted incorrectly. That means engineers have to spend time cleaning up the model, before it is in a workable state.

Another issue that comes from working in a multi-CAD environment is that different CAD tools define features differently. This means that when you move your design from one CAD system to another, the destination software can’t determine you model as made of numerous features. It just sees a dumb solid, which doesn’t contain any of your original design intent.

How are these problems being resolved?

But, that was how working in a multi-CAD environment used to work. New developments in CAD technology now mean that multi-CAD is working in a much smoother process.

Rather than insisting an imported model speak its language, CAD systems now use a translator to create a more accurate imported model. Because these translators are in place, the traditional problems associated with multi-CAD are now being phased out.

The final improvements we are seeing in CAD environments are their ability to recognise when an imported model is modified in another software and updates accordingly. This new feature allows designers to use their company’s native CAD software to make modifications that can be automatically propagated across a multiple CAD environment, regardless of software.      

Because of the improvements in the way that CAD environments work with one another, multi-CAD collaborations are becoming much more productive.

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