MCAD Tech News: 2D to 3D #11

9 Feb, 2005 By: Arnie Williams

Cadalyst MCAD Tech News

Elkay Moves to 3D

After Careful Consideration, Detail-Oriented Manufacturer Chooses SolidWorks Office

Elkay Manufacturing has been in business for more than 80 years, specializing in stainless steel sinks, water coolers, drinking fountains, water-filtration products and faucets for both residential and heavy-duty, high-use commercial markets. Based in Oak Brook, Illinois, Elkay is the parent company of E.B. Tecnica Mexicana, Elkay Canada, Yorktowne Cabinets, Medallion Cabinetry and MasterCraft Cabinets.

Elkay products are in demand due to the attention to detail in their design and manufacture. The company's commercial stainless steel sinks, for example, feature extra-deep bowls to accommodate large pots and pans and have an exclusive Sound Guard system for dampening sound resonance. The company offers a wide variety of institutional sinks, lavatories and urinals for hospitals, schools and other public sites. Elkay also specializes in no-lead water coolers and drinking fountains through its Unique Filtrex System.

Making the Move to 3D
A long-time user of I-deas 2D software formerly developed by SDRC, Elkay wanted to move to 3D modeling to gain design and manufacturing efficiencies as well as more accurate and comprehensive communications throughout the design and manufacturing teams. But in doing so, the company also needed a design product that had a short learning curve and would allow speedy conversion of its 2D legacy drawings to avoid the need to redesign many of its core products from scratch.

Elkay representatives spent considerable time evaluating products from many of the leading 3D MCAD software developers, including Inventor from Autodesk, SolidWorks, PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire and Solid Edge from UGS.

In the end, Elkay gave SolidWorks Office the nod for a number of reasons, according to company representatives. Key areas, they say, were its minimum cost of ownership and administration with a clear boost in design quality and productivity.

Many Important Features
A chief consideration beyond robust 3D modeling tools was the inclusion of eDrawings in SolidWorks Office. This easy-to-use Web tool allows wide access to engineering models and related data with the security and support of the Microsoft operating platform. eDrawings helps bring in the whole design-to-manufacturing team by generating accurate 2D and 3D models that can be viewed, marked up and measured without requiring a SolidWorks seat for every team member.

Office includes an AVI animator that can create simple animations to illustrate, for example, how parts and assemblies go together. The SolidWorks Office 3D Instant Website feature allows team members to publish live Web pages to the company's intranet for the kind of comprehensive communications that Elkay was after.

Easy File Conversion
SolidWorks Office allowed Elkay designers to import all its 2D legacy files for easy conversion. But the company also appreciated the ability of SolidWorks 3D models to generate construction-ready detail drawings for times when manufacturing still needs to consult 2D illustrations.

Elkay designers also favored the ability to customize design tools and control access through check-in and check-out features and the automated revision controls included in the SolidWorks Office product.

Elkay Manufacturing purchased 21 seats of SolidWorks Office in mid-2004 and has moved to an all-3D design and manufacturing environment.

Elkay Manufacturing