CAD Software Selection:
CAD Software Selection
thinking of taking the plunge? Whether you are considering investing in 3D CAD
for the first time or expanding what you’ve got, it’s critical to select the
software that best meets the unique requirements of your business. Rather than
be swayed by the sales slogans from the range of 3D vendors out there, try
making your selection based on a structured logical approach that specifically
meets your needs. It needn’t be complicated.
CAD Software Selection: The Evaluation Phase
Identifying your Personal CAD Requirements
As with most
technical problems, a good place to start is by looking at your requirements.
Understand exactly what you need. Make a list of what you are planning to
achieve. What are your overall objectives? Start by reviewing some of the answers
and advantages below:
Which of your
high level business objectives are you attempting to address? What
business processes are you attempting to improve? Examples include new product
introduction, existing product redesign or alternatively production engineering
improvements such as jig and fixture design or the introduction of Computer
As part of this, consider what stages of the development
process you are aiming to enhance. 3D CAD can contribute throughout product
development and indeed all the way through the product-lifecycle. See ‘CAD
Engineering – The Basics for Small Manufacturers’ section, to clarify your
thinking and identify which areas will apply to your business.
CAD Software Selection: Evaluating using your Specific Requirements
list further requirements you think apply to your company. Some examples
- What’s your budget?
– What is the maximum you are likely to be able to spend, both on CAD
licenses and any IT upgrades. Alternatively explore whether you may be
able to obtain limited funds now, with perhaps additional amounts at some
time in the future. This approach can be justified, particularly if you
can demonstrate cost savings (e.g. through saved time or reduced defects).
- When do you need it
up and running by? - When do you want the software both installed and
operational, i.e. staff adequately trained and being productive?
- How many CAD seats?
– Consider which individuals will be trained to use the software, both
initially but also potentially in the future. Is the arrangement scalable,
as your design team expands with business growth?
- Who will use the
CAD Software and for what specific purpose? – Which employees will
actually use the CAD software? How frequently will they use it? What
specific CAD activities will they undertaken, both initially but also in
the longer term?
Considerations? – Have you thought about tutorials that may come with
the software? Is taught training available either at the vendor’s site or
potentially at your business premises, if you have enough CAD seats? Do
you want to go down the ‘train the trainer’ route, where one person
receives formal training before returning to the business and training
others? Additionally, what about supplementing taught training with online
training videos and tutorials? What’s your overall strategy? Can it be
integrated into employee personal development plans?
- Consider Support
and Maintenance – What level of support will you require? This may
depend on the internal skills you have or are likely to have after
training. Phone and email support is highly recommended. Have you
considered manuals, web forums and YouTube videos, as a means of
- Specific CAD
Features for Your Type of Business – Are there CAD functions and
capabilities specific to the nature of your business? Is it worth receiving
more advanced focussed training in these areas, as they are the features
and skills your company requires? Examples include sheet metal design,
welding and fabrication, tooling and die design, as well as electrical,
cable and wiring design.
- Hardware, Networks
and Systems Requirements – Are your existing IT networks and hardware
like PC workstations, laptops and servers, adequate for smooth, stable CAD
software operation? Have system requirements, like recommended processing
speed and graphics cards, been reviewed against your equipment? Have you
adequately sized monitors which will do the CAD models justice,
particularly for large assemblies you may need to present?
- Data Management
– consider how you want CAD data to be integrated into your existing IT
networks. Who will require access and how frequently? Are there security
implications? How will data be stored, transferred and backed up? What are
the considerations for data transfer to suppliers and customers, including
file type and version control?
- Location and Design
Environment – Where will your CAD Engineers actually be located? Have
you a dedicated work space conducive to detailed work where employees have
to concentrate? Are laptop-based CAD workstations an option for increased
mobility and flexibility?
CAD Software Selection
and Selecting 3D CAD Software
Back to CAD Engineering Essentials
What CAD Software do You Rate?....Do you have any problems between CAD design and production engineering, or is it all seamless?
What CAD software do you rate the best and why?
How successful (or not) have you been using CAD to support other teams like production, maintenance and marketing?
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