CAD standards, What/Why

Standards in CAD (computer aided design) can be important enablers. Sometimes, designers and engineers complain about standards and the burden placed on them to adhere to standards and how this impacts their productivity.

I can emphatically state that CAD without standards is a recipe for disaster.

How can I back this up?
(1) I have over 10 years of experience in designing and managing CAD implementation (multi CAD, multi locations)
(2) I wrote the training manual for CAD standards and system administration and taught CAD/PDM administrators how to efficiently setup CAD environments and manage them effectively.

Benefits of CAD Standards include,
(1) Repeatability and quality of design
(2) Increased efficiency of drafters, designers and engineers
(3) Reduced costs by enabling reliable, standards-conformed, data

What should be included in CAD standards?
(1) Best practices for modeling

Include all aspects of design for e.g. casting, molding, chamfer, rounds, tolerances, inseparable assemblies, mirror etc. Document the processes with references to part number conventions used within the organization so that all users can name their assemblies, parts, features in a consistent manner and follow the same process/procedure to create 3d models.

(2) Best practices per CAD software

Every CAD package manages parent-child relationships in a different manner. Parent child relationships sometimes cause extensive problems in CAD data management and upgrades of PDM systems. Try and leverage the best practices per the vendor or the user community.

(3) Design drafting standards

Modify templates (for parts, assemblies and drawings) and configuration files to use the right units, views, drawing conventions like symbols, notes, tolerances, arrows, cross sections etc.

(4) Attributes/Metadata

Include attributes into the templates (for parts, assemblies and drawings) and prompt the user to enter this information as part of the creation process, this will ensure that the information entered is consistent. In most cases, if this is not entered during creation, it never gets captured. Most CAD packages have the capability to allow the drawing tables to be populated based on part/assemblies linked to them. In addition, this information can be passed from CAD into PDM systems and then into PLM/ERP systems.

(5) Software Configuration

Ensure that the software configuration on client's machines are consistent. If you dont control this configuration, then users can modify the settings and you will end up with standards not being followed.

If you don't include internal best practices/design drafting standards and match them with CAD vendors' best practices, you could end up with a mess on your hands. CAD systems are complex, and if you allow your users to have a free reign, data management becomes a hassle and will have a significant impact on down stream processes used within supply chain and manufacturing.

In a later post, I will discuss how to go about setting standards & how to go about cleaning a messy situation!

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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