Developing better products requires CAD-integrated tools

Written by: Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS | Published: 02/20

In order to build better products, you are tasked with understanding and communicating every aspect of your design as it goes from concept to manufacturing.

While most product designers and engineers are well aware of the additional tools they would like to have integrated inside their 3D CAD system to help them develop better products, sometimes you don’t know what you need until you have it. Considering some of the obstacles that you

routinely encounter during product development will give you an idea of the types of additional tools that you could put to good use.

Can you work with legacy data?

Modifying and adapting existing product designs—reworking and improving prior concepts rather than starting from scratch—requires the ability to import and work with legacy design data, whether it be older 2D files or more recent 3D models in different CAD formats. With CAD-integrated tools for connecting to and working with legacy data, you can avoid the time and effort involved with bringing in unintelligent file formats, such as IGES and STEP, and begin working with feature-rich drawings and models immediately.

Can you communicate design concepts effectively?

Showing a 3D CAD model to someone looking over your shoulder at your screen is an excellent way to share and communicate design concepts. But what happens when the people with whom you need to communicate and collaborate are located in another office or on the other side of the world? If they use the same CAD system, you can send them the model; but what if they use a different CAD package or don’t use CAD at all? For these situations, you need a simple, neutral, yet robust design format that doesn’t require recipients to have your CAD package or know how to use it.

How will your design perform?

Understanding how your design will perform—whether it will bend, break, move, deflect, or deform—while you are modeling it is certainly more efficient than waiting for validation or physical prototyping after the fact. If you can pinpoint and resolve design performance issues while modeling a part or product, you’ll save time and money compared to discovering them later in the process. CAD-integrated motion and structural analysis tools will enable you to understand and address product performance during design, allowing you to avoid downstream surprises and giving you more confidence regarding the behavior of your design.

How will your design look and feel?

Design aesthetics have become increasingly important to product success. While a 3D CAD model is certainly an enormous improvement over 2D drawings in terms of visualization, truly assessing a design’s look and feel means taking visualization, not to mention tactile impressions, to another level. CAD-integrated tools that let you quickly and easily create photorealistic renderings and animations of design concepts—as well as offer support for 3D printing—can provide the capabilities that you need to effectively gauge design aesthetics.

Can you model complex surfaces accurately?

Organic shapes, which are characterized by asymmetrical, irregular dimensions and curvy, swoopy surfaces, have become increasingly popular in product design, especially for consumer products. In the past, designers used separate surface modeling packages to create shapes that were beyond the reach of most solid modelers. Today, however, CAD-integrated advanced surfacing tools can help you utilize lofts, sweeps, and curves to create shapes that are bound only by the limits of your imagination.