Graphics Programs Reference
CAD Engineering - The Basics for Small Manufacturers
Put simply, if you are serious about competing and remaining competitive, then 3D CAD
should be a key part of your technology tool box. For small manufacturers who develop
products, it is as straightforward as that. Likewise for supply chain manufacturers who prin-
cipally are production based, but want to increase their flexibility and ability to handle cus-
tomers' CAD data, the ability to understand CAD files and organise their production set-up
accordingly is paramount.
Commercial pressures to get quality products to market quickly, have driven the adoption
of 3D CAD and its derivative technologies like 3D printing, FEA (finite element analysis),
CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing). Alongside
this, computing power has increased considerably, whilst tumbling in price. These trends
The real value of 3D CAD is the ability to design something once and use the CAD data later
in other areas of the development process, and indeed the product life cycle, beyond. The
benefits are covered comprehensively in the next section, but they can be summarised here.
In short they are reduced development lead-times, fewer errors, significantly better quality
and finally, big resultant cost reductions.
However the picture for small manufacturers is patchy…
• Some are fully signed up and are utilizing 3D data not only during the design stage, but
also making use of this information throughout the business and beyond.
• Many are using 3D CAD during design development, yet only partially exploiting the
software's full functionality.
• Others are still using 2D CAD software to produce technical drawings, but not yet using
• Indeed, some in niche areas are still using hand drawn detailed drawings.
• Additionally, some are using a combination of these, depending on the skills and facilit-
ies within the business.