In today’s world, where teams are often located in multiple locations, almost everybody agrees that collaboration tools are a necessity. As a result, most enterprise solutions have found a way to securely enable collaboration with teams, customers, and suppliers by providing a shared storage and communication location in the cloud, or at least behind firewalls.

But CAD is different from other enterprise solutions because it relies on a combination of creativity, skills, subject matter expertise, and fundamental design principles.

Many CAD solutions provide specialized algorithms and analysis tools for specific types of design, such as PCB layout, fluid dynamics, or other engineering specializations. But the question isn’t whether a CAD solution can perform these specialized tasks, but rather, can an engineer or designer who relies on these specialized tools collaborate easily with other CAD solutions?

The answer is critical to designing high quality products, ensuring rapid time to market, and meeting ambitious cost targets. Not only must the CAD collaboration capabilities work across multiple CAD solutions, they must also facilitate the optimization of these fundamental goals as designs are created and maintained within a dynamic network.

The best multi-CAD collaboration allows each team member to use the CAD tools that work best for their discipline.

Understanding CAD Collaboration

What Does CAD Collaboration Mean?

While almost everyone agrees that CAD collaboration is a good thing, not everyone knows exactly what it means. There are five key factors that companies should look for when trying to implement multi-CAD collaboration.

  1. Provision for secure discussions and file sharing, between company locations and with customers or suppliers
  2. Easy for non-engineers to view and interact with 3D models
  3. The ability to read files created in other CAD solutions
  4. The ability to maintain or modify designs created in other CAD solutions
  5. The ability to update designs across multiple CAD solutions

CAD collaboration starts with easy, secure file sharing, but it doesn’t end there.

How Do You Achieve CAD Collaboration?

Of these five, the last requirement may be the most difficult to achieve, and it is also the most critical.

Imagine an engineer opens a design created in CAD System A and modifies it using CAD System B to conform to the requirements of his or her area of expertise—let’s say circuit design.

How do the original design engineer and other engineers working on the project know that the design has been updated? Do the changes made in CAD System B update the design in the original CAD solution?

How about in multiple CAD systems used by other team members? Is there an approval process to accept the changes or confirm that they work with the overall design and are in line with the project specifications?

Benefits of CAD Collaboration

CAD collaboration can provide many benefits:

  • Superior designs
  • Higher quality products
  • Improved product useability
  • Lower project costs
  • Faster time to market

But unless the solutions in use are capable of providing multi-CAD collaboration, it may be difficult to achieve any of these benefits.

CAD collaboration leads to higher quality products, faster time to market, and lower overall costs.

Take It One Step Further with Facilitative CAD Collaboration

That’s why facilitative CAD collaboration is so critical. Facilitative collaboration enables customers, suppliers, and in-house design teams to weigh in on every aspect of the design process.

For example, in a typical collaboration, a designer might pass a design to a supplier to quote on molding a component. Normally, the supplier would provide a quote on the product as designed. But it’s highly likely that the supplier—whose business is molding components—knows more about the topic and how to apply the guiding principles to the equipment in use at their own plants. With a facilitative collaboration model, the molding supplier could mark up or redline the initial design in their own CAD solution and pass it back to the originator for acceptance and approval.

Working at this level of CAD collaboration uncovers new efficiencies. In this example, the molding supplier’s design suggestions can result in lower project costs and a higher quality product.


Benefits of Facilitative Multi-CAD Collaboration

The benefits of facilitative multi-CAD collaboration are enormous. No one on the team has to switch to another system or learn a new way of designing products. Communication is simplified, and as a result, projects move more quickly, and the product reaches the market faster, at the targeted cost and quality.

Facilitative multi-CAD collaboration uses the expertise of every team member and CAD solution to improve product designs.

Ready to Implement Multi-CAD Collaboration?

If you would like to learn more about facilitative multi-CAD collaboration, contact us today for a free demo or further discussion.