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Selecting 3D CAD Software

Don LaCourse, eDocHelp
October 7, 2004
reprinted by permission from

 

Before you purchase any 3D CAD software, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of parts do you make (injection molded, machined, cast, etc.)?

  • Does your company plan to use the 3D model design for downstream processes? If so, which processes?

  • Does the software under consideration support all required engineering design and analysis functions?

  • What level of accuracy does your company require? Determine the level of accuracy (third order or above) in the wire frame, surface, and solid geometry needed to produce your designs. Find out if the software under consideration supports this level of accuracy.

  • How will you maintain your existing designs (legacy data)?

  • Will your existing staff be sufficient to support the new software and hardware?

  • What is the cost per seat?

  • How long before your current personnel become productive with 3D modeling software?

  • Will the software purchase require your company to purchase new hardware?

  • What hardware is needed? Be careful! The cost per 3D modeling workstation can be very misleading. Most software is packaged in some modular fashion. When you compare software costs, be sure to compare apples to apples.\

  • One of the most telling ways to compare software is through benchmarks. Asking several software vendors to run a benchmark can better determine which product has features most applicable to your type of work.

  • Exercise caution when you define which 3D modeling products to benchmark. Some vendors may attempt to limit benchmarks to their most robust software. The benchmark should simulate a real-life implementation of the software you intent to purchase.

About the Author

Don LaCourse is principal partner of eDocHelp, which provides e-documentation, online help, technical writing and 3D modeling services for the CAD/CAM, manufacturing and other service-oriented industries. eDocHelp recently launched 3DCADTips, a 3D CAD resource site. Don has over 25 years of experience in design and documentation. He gained much of his experience during his 10 years as a tier-one automotive designer with Textron, Inc. He also helped NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) design and document their joint SpaceLab 1 project that flew on board several of the early space shuttle missions. Don also brings product and injection mold design and documentation experience to eDocHelp. Don had his first book published in 1995 serving as editor-in-chief for the McGraw-Hill publication "Handbook of Solid Modeling," where he contributed, edited and managed over 25 industry-leading authors. He is currently a contributing editor for Cadalyst magazine.

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