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Four CAD Capabilities You Shouldn’t Ignore

Four CAD Capabilities You Shouldn’t Ignore

Every year and with each new release, CAD programs are stuffed with yet another round of feature sets intended to radically alter how engineers design and build products.

Many of those capabilities have certainly been transformative—consider the melding of direct modeling and parametric capabilities in most modern day CAD tools, for example, or the streamlined user interfaces that make tools more readily accessible to a broad swath of engineers.

Yet many users, buried under the avalanche of new and advanced functionality, refrain from sampling all the new CAD goodies. Instead, they stick with their go-to capabilities because they’re already well integrated into their design processes and there’s often so little time to learn something new.

The problem with this philosophy is that engineers can miss out. Along with the many new and improved CAD bells and whistles are major new areas of functionality that engineering teams simply aren’t using to their fullest potential. Maybe they don’t know enough about them or maybe they’re simply intimidated by the possibility of changing processes. But their willingness to skip over CAD software’s latest riches could eventually backfire, in the worse case creating competitive disadvantage.

That said, these CAD capabilities should warrant a second look if they’re not already in widespread use throughout your engineering organization:

Freeform modeling

It wasn’t long ago that it was next to impossible to model organic or freeform shapes in CAD. The feature-based approach of most traditional CAD tools limited their ability to easily create freeform shapes, which in turn, made the tools less useful for concept modeling and certain types of design projects. Today’s CAD programs incorporate a range of enhanced tools that make freeform modeling easier, allowing engineers of all stripes to more easily create organic shapes and surfaces using a natural workflow.

In an era obsessed with lightweighting and highly stylized design, the ability to easily explore organic shapes as part of the early concept stage has become critical to innovative design.

CAD/CAM Integration

Ensuring a smooth handoff from product design to manufacturing is crucial to product development success, and CAM tools have long been employed to foster the design of high precision tooling. Yet CAM has typically been a separate solution, complete with an unfamiliar user interface and offering far too little in the way of integration with CAD. 

That’s changed with current CAD offerings, many of which come with CAM functionality built in along with complementary CAM modules that buttress the core platform. These can now work as integrated platforms that can handle the full spectrum of the machine process, including tool and die design, NC programming, process documentation, toolpath verification, and simulation.

Continuous Simulation

Most engineering teams have embraced the use of simulation as a tool for validating designs. Many engineers have even become more fluent in the discipline, able to perform their own limited simulation studies as part of their regular routines. This is a far more effective use of simulation compared to the traditional workflow where engineers hand off a nearly complete design to a simulation specialist for validation, which can put a project at risk if problems are found. Yet thanks to tighter integration between CAD and complementary simulation tools, and a fair amount of robust simulation capabilities baked into the core modeling package, engineers can—and should—be making more widespread use of simulation. Instead of running one or two simulations at the tail end of the process, engineering teams need to adopt analysis-led design workflows that take advantage of simulation continuously throughout the process to ensure optimal designs.

ECAD-to-MCAD Integration

Companies talk about eliminating silos between the mechanical and electrical domains, but most aren’t going far enough to support cross-disciplinary collaboration. It’s good thing, then, that current CAD tools have advanced the ball on this front given the increased complexity of today’s products. Software like this lets mechanical engineers see the potential impact of changes on electrical designs before they are proposed while also enabling them to communicate those changes across disciplines.

Given the bounty of modern CAD functionality, it’s unrealistic to think someone can exercise every option. Yet too many users get stuck in a CAD rut and overlook capabilities that could ultimately transform their design processes.

Dreambird's comments

Hexagon Production Software solutions were initially designated in order to integrate popular third party CAD packages and process their original data with no conversion losses. Developers of these solutions pay special attention towards supporting new functions and most recent versions of original formats. The developers knowledge base allow to share new functions, highly evaluated by users, with the other applications, strengthening and improving them. All the application interfaces are designed in a similar way, shortening down their learning curve.

For an even closer bond between CAD and CAM, DESIGNER modelling system was developed.

From fixture design, to part repair and modification, DESIGNER is the ultimate CAD solution for taking geometry through to manufacture. The solution is available as part of EDGECAM, SURFCAM, WORKNC and VISI software products, but also as a separate application.

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