By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Today’s Check It Out is a good read written by Chad Jackson, one of the good guys in the engineering punditocracy. This mailing is sponsored by SpaceClaim, but SpaceClaim itself is not the focus of the paper. It’s not even mentioned in the paper, although direct-modeling technology, of which SpaceClaim has been a champion, is.
That said, why should you read a seven-page PDF called “Release-to-CAD: The Milestone Between Engineering & Documenting Products”? Because it is thought provoking and because it is does a great job explaining why direct modeling needs to be a part of your process.
Thought provoking: The basic idea here is that engineering departments have traditionally operated semi-autonomously because the honchos often did not get the process. But market pressures have changed the attitudes of most CEOs. They need innovation and differentiation now, and they demand the same transparency out of engineering as they do everybody else. The traditional milestones where transparency is easy — requirements finalization, testing, and design release — do not meet the CEO’s need to know because of the time lags between processes. An intermediate phase called “Release-to-CAD” that resides between the concept development/discovery phases and the detailed design for production phases is the natural moment to provide the CEO with the requisite milestone reports.
Direct modeling: Early in the concept development process, history- and feature-based CAD can exert a damping effect on innovation because it requires a pre-planned, methodical approach to achieve its ends. This means engineers may move forward in a slow, overcautious pace and, worse, regress to the familiar rather than explore the what-if. This prolongs the process and stifles innovation. Direct-modeling, which is unencumbered with complex interactions of part hierarchies, enables rapid, “free-form” what-if concept development, including some basic FEA/CFD analyses. This engenders innovation and quickens the path from idea to design. And, when your concept model is released to CAD for detailed design, what you’re doing is easily discernible in its 3D form even by a CEO.
Geez. I’ve hardly done this paper justice in that quick report. But I hope you get the idea that “Release to CAD” is more than just the latest slogan. It’s a real milestone that, for many companies, is an endless mile to get to. Direct modeling could provide a new route to get you there faster and in better shape. Ultimately, this means more innovative products out the door more quickly. Hit the link over there to read more. It’s well worth your time.
Also, while on the subject, Chad Jackson and Blake Courter, co-founder of SpaceClaim, will be discussing Release-to-CAD as well as the technological and cultural shifts that enable it in a webinar next Wednesday (March 9th) from 11 a.m to noon (EST). Read the paper, record your questions, then join and put them on the spot. You’ll find the link to more details on the webinar after you work through the paper’s download link.
Thanks, pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering