CAD Manager's Newsletter (#361)

12 Apr, 2016 By: Robert Green

Classic CAD Manager: Become a CAD Ecosystem Expert

Once you understand that CAD is not a stand-alone tool, but a complex network of components, you'll be better prepared to keep it running smoothly.

Editor's note: Until Robert Green returns, we'll be revisiting a few classic CAD Manager columns and their timeless advice. This column was originally published on December 20, 2013.

What should CAD managers actually manage? Senior management teams and CAD managers alike ask me this question, and it's one I've struggled to answer intuitively. One day, it dawned on me that I could explain CAD management by presenting CAD as a multidisciplinary ecosystem that must be managed in its entirety in order to work properly, not just as a tool or a standalone piece of software.

In this edition of "CAD Manager," I'll offer you practical advice on how to best to manage this interconnected web of hardware, software, and human elements — lest it manage you. Here goes.

The CAD Ecosystem

Over the years, I've come to understand that all CAD-related work is accomplished by navigating a complex process that uses a distributed ecosystem of components as follows:

Design intent. A user (engineer, architect, designer, etc.) thinks about the design and develops parameters/constraints to input into a CAD tool.

Hardware interaction. A user then employs a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and computer to input those parameters into a CAD application.

CAD interaction. A user navigates the menus, ribbons, and toolbars of the CAD application to transform the design into a workable model.

Network interaction. The CAD files are then managed via a network or cloud infrastructure.

Output. The CAD design is ultimately output to plots, PDF files, or other means via a peripheral or software driver, which may reside on the user's machine or on a network.

Iteration. Design reviews, client feedback, and internal processes will result in multiple iterations of the above process until a final design is documented. As the design evolves, all the above steps repeat.

It is this multistep process — and all the hardware, software, driver, and peripheral components that facilitate it — that I call the CAD ecosystem. Read more »

:: Resources

ZWSOFT Publishes Free ZWCAD Viewer for CAD Viewing and Plotting
ZWSOFT, a supplier of CAD solutions for the AEC and MCAD industries, has introduced ZWCAD Viewer, a free program for DWG file viewing and plotting. ZWCAD Viewer runs in 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, Mac OS, and Linux operating systems. The software supports drawings in various file formats including DWG, DWF, DWFX, DXF, and DWT.

Voting for AU 2016 Topics Runs through April 27
Those who plan to attend Autodesk University (AU) 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada, can vote for the topics they'd like to be included in the user conference. The Tournament of Topics includes multiple rounds of voting, and will conclude on April 27, 2016.

:: What's New at

Video Tip: Customize the AutoCAD Status Bar
You can use a new feature introduced in Autodesk Inventor 2016 to collaborate with users of various CAD applications. Watch the video »

Viewpoint: The Future of CAD Graphics
The industry veterans heading Jon Peddie Research weigh in on the relationship between CAD software and graphics hardware, integrated and discrete options, and the role of the cloud. Read more »

Stratasys Refines Multi-Material 3D Printing with Full-Color J750
Newest PolyJet system from Stratasys promises highly realistic product prototypes without post-processing — for a price. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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