MCAD Tech News (#298)

3 Feb, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

At LEMO, 3D Is Not an All-or-Nothing Proposition

Manufacturer of popular connectors finds DWG data is still critical for internal communication and fast delivery of custom designs.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Editor's note: Through a sponsorship by Autodesk, Cadalyst editors bring you this feature, part of a special series of articles that highlight the role of AutoCAD and 2D design in today's demanding CAD work flows. Watch for the next installment later this month.

There's no room for error in designing for LEMO, a brand well known for its push-pull connectors used in medical, industrial, audio/visual, telecommunications, military, scientific research, and measurement applications. Nobody wants a connector to come unplugged accidentally during a crucial operation, said Erik Gammon, engineering manager at LEMO USA, based in Rohnert Park, California. LEMO prides itself on making completely reliable connectors for applications in which safety and absolute performance are critical.

So, it's no surprise that LEMO relies on 3D modeling to provide the accuracy and analysis capabilities it needs — in this case, Autodesk Inventor. What might surprise you is that in an industry that today often touts 3D as the only viable approach to design, a company such as LEMO USA also still relies heavily on the 2D functionality of AutoCAD Mechanical to support its demanding work flow.

With approximately 110 employees, LEMO USA is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based LEMO SA. The company derives its name from that of its founder, engineer Léon Mouttet, originally a manufacturer of contacts made of noble and rare metals. LEMO sets the industry standard for quality with its push-pull circular connectors that range in diameter from 8 millimeters to 60 millimeters and some of which incorporate fiber-optic, coaxial, and low-voltage contacts into a single hybrid design.

Digital Prototyping in 2D and 3D

The development process at LEMO USA revolves around digital prototyping in an Inventor- and AutoCAD Mechanical-based work flow in which designers digitally design, visualize, and simulate products at every stage — from concept through manufacturing. In this work flow, LEMO uses AutoCAD Mechanical as a design and collaboration tool to draw and visualize connector and cable assemblies and communicate with its offices worldwide. LEMO also uses Autodesk Inventor Professional to design and analyze connectors, as well as Autodesk Vault to manage its digital prototyping and drawing files and Autodesk Design Review software to share, review, and mark up digital prototypes with internal teams and external customers.

This AutoCAD Mechanical drawing of a panel-mount socket connector provides all the specifications that customers need to incorporate the connector into their designs.

LEMO USA has used AutoCAD since 1994 and Inventor since 2003. It uses only the 2D capabilities in AutoCAD Mechanical, relying heavily on the software to leverage its legacy data — more than 7,500 2D drawings. This vast library of DWG data can serve as the basis of new and customized 2D and 3D designs, significantly accelerating the design process. Historically, LEMO USA has used 2D for customer-level drawings of connector assemblies with bills of materials (BOMs) and dimensions and for inspection purposes. The company can leverage the DWG format because it is universally accepted internally as well as by customers and suppliers. Read more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jeffrey Rowe is an electromechanical designer with more than 30 years' experience in design, engineering, and manufacturing. He is the principal consultant of his independent firm specializing in design, engineering, technical communication, education, and business development. Reach him at


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


Webinar: NX 7.5 Sketching and Edge Blending
March 1, 2011
2 p.m. ET
The Education Services at Siemens PLM Software will present a free mini-training session to provide tips in the use of NX CAD software, and potential productivity gains achieved by investing in formal training options. Read more »

Webinar: Improving Manufacturing Planning and Validation Efficiency
March 16, 2011
2 p.m. ET
This webinar from Siemens PLM Software will discuss how the early planning and validation capabilities found within Tecnomatix digital manufacturing software solutions can help manufacturers adjust their planning strategy in the face of economic instability. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial: Open Large Solid Edge Assemblies Quickly
Assembly overrides and display configurations can save you time by limiting the number of components or level of detail displayed. Read more »

Solid Thinking Tutorial: Windows Explorer vs. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM
Two project data management systems face off over project storage, managing revisions, and tracking an engineering change order. Read more »

First Look Review: RenderPRO12
Dedicated rendering module from Boxx is a compact, cost-effective alternative for users dreaming of a render farm. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use any augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) technologies in your workflow?
Not yet, but we are planning to implement it.
No, but we think these technologies could hold value for us.
No; these technologies do not hold value for us.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition