CAD Manager's Newsletter (#415)

9 Oct, 2018 By: Robert Green

Avoid Software Tool Worship by Focusing on Design

No matter how heavily promoted and feature-rich a software tool is, it's just a means to an end — and it's not necessarily the right answer for your particular challenge.

Image by Jason Stitt / stock.adobe.comImagine you could listen in on a 1963 meeting among the scientists, engineers, and manufacturing professionals who were discussing how to get the Apollo astronauts to the moon and back. Which of the following statements do you think would best reflect that conversation:

  1. "We have a lot of challenges to figure out and we've got no clue what we'll need to do the job, so let's focus on letting our professionals solve design problems, and we'll figure out which tools we need as we go."
  2. "The sales guys over at IBM say they have a new rocket design program; after we buy it, then we can use the tool and see what kind of rocket we can design with it."

When you think about it, the second statement seems totally ridiculous, doesn't it? Who would let a computer tool company dictate how to create a moon rocket? That's clearly the domain of engineers and scientists, right? And the more you think about the first statement, in contrast, the more sense it makes.

So why are we all letting software companies tell us how to design? Are we unwittingly falling victim to "tool worship"? In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, we'll start a discussion about why CAD managers should reject tool worship and focus on supporting design processes. Here goes.

The Dangers of Putting the Tool First

What do I mean by tool worship? It's the belief that you must use certain software tools to solve design problems, rather than letting great design dictate which tools should be used. For example, if you've been a CAD manager for any length of time, you've probably heard statements like these:

  • If you're going to create buildings, you need building information modeling (BIM).
  • If you're going to build machinery, you must have 3D printing.
  • If you're going to integrate building systems, you have to use a cloud-based clash-detection tool.
  • 3D design is mandatory; 2D is dead.

Rather than accepting these statements without question, we should all ask, "Says who?" After all, skyscrapers were created decades before BIM, stealth aircraft and rockets were manufactured well before 3D printing became mainstream, and clash/interference detection methodologies using pin bars and overlay Mylar drafting systems were well understood long before CAD existed. And let's be honest, there are millions of seats of AutoCAD and competing 2D CAD tools out there that are still cranking out tons of project deliverables.

And while 3D printing of concrete and metals on a large scale may be feasible in the future, you can't robotically fabricate an entire building yet, and you darn sure can't print out an airplane. The reality of making things just doesn't match the technology hype, does it?

To be clear, I am not saying that 3D digital tools aren't beneficial (or superior) in a variety of cases. I am asking, "Are we really so brainwashed that we've stopped thinking for ourselves? Are we asking enough questions and approaching design in the most efficient manner possible?" Read more »

Tools and Resources

3D Systems Offers eBook on Metal Additive Manufacturing Software
Site visitors who register can download a free ebook from 3D Systems that addresses the effect software can have on the profitability of metal additive manufacturing. Other topics include what to look for when researching additive manufacturing software solutions, and benefits of using an integrated software solution versus multiple independent solutions.

What's New from Our Sponsors

Boost Profit Margins with Design Collaboration

Boost Profit Margins with Design Collaboration
From Autodesk: Download our free eBook to learn how BIM is impacting design professionals and how the most profitable firms are extending their Revit investment with the cloud to get ahead. Read more

BIM 360 Design Customer Spotlight with Stantec

BIM 360 Design Customer Spotlight with Stantec
From Autodesk: Join Adam Peter, Autodesk Customer Success Engineer, as he journeys with Stantec's Robert Manna talking about all things BIM 360 Design. Walk through the collaboration, coordination, and communication challenges that a firm like Stantec typically faces on projects and see how they use best practices in BIM 360 Design to overcome them. Read more

Collaborate on Revit Models Anytime, Anywhere

Collaborate on Revit Models Anytime, Anywhere
From Autodesk: Watch this short video to learn how BIM 360 Design allows distributed project teams to collaborate in real time on multidiscipline Revit models with anyone, anytime, from anywhere in BIM 360 Design. Eliminate costly delays, maximize your talent pool, and reduce friction from disparate collaboration solutions. Read more

What's New at

AutoCAD Video Tips: Manage All Those AutoCAD UI Boxes!
There are so many different user interface (UI) boxes in AutoCAD: grip boxes, apertures, object snap markers, etc. Do you have them set up for maximum productivity? Join AutoCAD tipster Lynn Allen as she takes you through the various settings that manage a variety of key UI tools! Watch the video »

Gravity Sketch Moves Conceptual Design into the Virtual Realm
With a focus on ease of use and an intuitive method of 3D content creation — a virtual reality interface — Gravity Sketch hopes to persuade designers to drop 2D sketching from their workflows. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: CAD Workstation Form Factors 101, Part 5 — The Datacenter Workstation Addresses Modern CAD Challenges
Now that we've explored the array of local workstation options, it's time to look at the benefits and drawbacks of those located in remote datacenters. Read more »

CAD Manager Column: How Should You Spend Your CAD Management Time?
If you're like most CAD managers, you have lots of tasks on your plate — but what's the best way to prioritize them? Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

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