PLANT

Three new ways to think about CAD software


February 19, 2010
by Corinne Lynds

An example of Bombardier Aerospace’s use of CAD software to develop marketing materials for the CSeries CS100.

Photo: Bombardier

Computer automated design (CAD) software has long played an important role in manufacturing, primarily to design simple parts. But this complex tool now streamlines production, improves your carbon footprint and boosts marketing initiatives.

That said, many manufacturers are not taking advantage of CAD’s full-range of capabilities. Here are three new ways to get more ‘bang’ for your CAD buck.

Marketing. Digital prototyping software that digitally designs, visualizes and simulates how a product will work under real-world conditions is not new, but using it for marketing is.

Autodesk’s 3ds Max helps Quebec-based Bombardier Aerospace customize its private and business aircraft.

“It’s really part of the marketing process for the business jets,” explains Ed Martin, industry manager, transportation for Autodesk, the global design and engineering software developer. “When somebody is buying a business jet, they’re spending a lot of money, so they need to be sure of what exactly they’re getting up front.”

Once the customer has selected an aircraft, whether it’s a Learjet 60 XR (seats eight), a Challenger 850 (seats 14), or a Global Express XRS (seats 19), they will then want to customize it with the company brand or personal style.

“We do mainly the interior visualization work,” says David Rees, lead 3D digital artist for Bombardier’s Global aircraft line at Bombardier’s advanced visualization and media centre in Montreal. “We visualize some of the exterior paint work, but our major work comes with the interior floor plans and décor. In the past, we only used 3ds Max Design visualizations to confirm the customer’s choices, which used to be limited. These days, we’re involved much earlier in the design process and create many more iterations in much less time.”

And, according to Martin, Bombardier is not the only company taking advantage of CAD software’s marketing capabilities. He says many manufacturers, especially automotive companies, are using Autodesk Showcase to market their products more effectively. “They take the CAD data and come up with some really good visuals and use those for web, print or whatever form of communication they have.”

Lean manufacturing. The world’s most successful manufacturers understand that identifying and eliminating waste in their production processes allows them to focus on improving quality and streamlining production. It only makes sense that they would apply this strategy to their design processes too.