CAD Competence

This blog is translated from German with DeepL.

The right tool selection for the specific job is one of the sources of our business in the service sector. It is about using this tool to enable – effectively realize – the manufacture of physical products. From our point of view, there is no “right” selection, but much more a “better or worse” one. The evaluation of such tools is demanding and keeps us vital.

When selecting a CAD system, personal experiences and backgrounds often have an influence (e.g. preferences, habits). In our evaluation we try to use subjective aspects for the decision besides the relatively simple, objective aspects – this mainly in the for us familiar areas of physical product development and its necessary production infrastructure. The basic CAD user knowledge is the given condition for us. Further we presuppose with the selection that exclusively specialists with founded technical knowledge are the users.

Our range of experience here speaks of the following established systems listed below (basis: parameterized CAD development). The status corresponds to July 2019 – accordingly to be considered as an incomplete and periodically revised list.  Statements and assessments are based on our perspective of how we use the systems in our project business and are without warranty. The statements are subjective and not to be understood as evaluative, since they depend strongly on the application scenario, in particular the environment.

CAD System
            Future trend / focus
  • Cloud Connected Products

  • Design-to-Manufacturing-Solutions

  • Composites and Fabrics (Fabrics)
  • Extremely powerful tool. Can be used for very demanding projects and generally has everything you need for all areas.
  • The program does not follow any software-specific philosophy; the intuitive operation leads, no matter which way, to the goal; strongly license-dependent, which functions you have.
  • Very good 3D filleting tool. This is very helpful mainly for shape-based and shape-complex designs.
  • User interface can be very distinctive and individually set according to need.
  • As of NX 11, the “moving installation” is completely available; “Motion simulation” – from linear to rotary – offers many possibilities on a large scale, but requires an additional license.
  • Augmented Reality
  • Real-time simulation
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Very powerful tool. Very well suited for demanding projects.
  • Conditionally intuitive; has its own structure philosophy; license-dependent, which functions one has available.
  • Very good 3D filleting tool. This is mainly very helpful for shape-bound and shape-complex constructions. Generally very good handling of surface modeling.
  • Chronology and backtracking of saves sensibly solved even without PDM.
    Those who prefer keyboard control feel comfortable here (mapkeys).
  • Mechanisms in assemblies (rotate, slide, etc.) available in basic license.
  • Follows its own design philosophy. This is mainly important for beginners coming from another CAD. Recognizes only one “volume”. If you want to merge or subtract e.g. cubes (2 volumes) this requires a rethink (Boolean function). Subtractions are only possible from surfaces.
  • Design-to-manufacturing solutions
  • Internet of Things (IoT with SW PCB, Electric 3D, etc.)
  • Very powerful tool. Very well suited for demanding projects. We often call it, perhaps inappropriately, the Catia sibling.
  • Very intuitive; popular with beginners.
    Comprehensive basic package; yet different packages available (Standard, Professional, Premium).
  • Powerful, easy-to-understand sheet metal tool.
    Very widespread with several million users worldwide, thus much know-how available online.
  • With large assemblies, it is necessary to work consistently with simplified representations, otherwise very sluggish.
  • Cumbersome management of templates for drawings, drawing frames, etc.
  • Cross-engineering into other sectors (construction, systems engineering, design, etc.)
  • Platform business with  gradations of up to 25 individual functions
  • Extremely powerful tool for demanding projects (mainly for all projects where the result drives or flies).
  • The program does not follow any software-specific philosophy. Intuitive operation leads to the goal, no matter which way.
  • User interface can be very distinctive and individually adjusted according to needs.
  • There are different basic modules, which are specifically designed for different industries and can also be specified (license model).
  • The versioning of parts is not done automatically in Catia, but must be realized with an additional PDM.
  • Places emphasis on a good user experience.
  • Optimizes current in the areas where the work mainly takes place (design commands, sketching, modeling).
  • Performance improvements for larger assemblies.
  • Beginner-friendly, powerful tool. Conditionally applicable for extremely demanding projects (relative and project-dependent).
  • Intuitive and consistently understandable.
  • Modeling assemblies and deriving individual bodies in groups into individual parts is easy to do.
  • Good PDM data storage in combination with checkin checkout system “Vault” (SQL database); offers good possibilities to do dimensioning. Extensive, but in the basic version without revision possibility.
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Subtractive manufacturing (sheet metal, plastic, wood) using “2D nesting
  • Augmented reality
  • Conditionally powerful tool, but a very good all-rounder. Consequently, conditionally applicable for extremely demanding projects (relatively and project-dependent). We often call it, perhaps inappropriately, the NX sibling.
  • Synchronous Technology: hybrid design, respectively a mix of parametric and direct design. This allows, for example, in assemblies a direct design or modification of several parts at the same time without losing the parametrics of the individual parts.

Compared to other decisions that arise in our daily business, our decision-making process may seem more time-consuming – but it is more successful because

  • it always keeps us up to date with the market gives the necessary impetus to reassemble our own licenses for the next phase
  • it provides the basis to react flexibly to our business development
  • it systematically complements the objective evaluation process with “gut feeling” and we can use this knowledge to support our customers in the best possible way.

It is really fun where the user needs for a system are in harmony with the company philosophy and effective work. The compromise of all this requires a high degree of communication skills of the management or decision makers.

We are looking forward to the future CAD selection processes! 

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