MBD Implementation 10 DOs and 10 DONTs – Introduction

Model-Based Definition (MBD, Figure 1) is the practice of integrating Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI), such as Dimensions, Tolerances, Datum, Bill of Materials (BOMs), Surface finishes, Notes, Weld symbols, and associated metadata with 3D solid models within 3D CAD software to provide specifications for individual components and product assemblies. Traditionally, such specifications are provided by 2D engineering drawings (Figure 2).

Clearly, MBD reads much more intuitively and integrates PMI more tightly into 3D as the design authority, which avoids ambiguity, synchronizes design changes more directly, and reuses intelligent 3D data in downstream manufacturing applications more cohesively.

Figure 1: Model-Based Definition
Figure 1: Model-Based Definition
Figure 2: 2D Engineering drawing
Figure 2: 2D Engineering drawing

MBD caters well to human cognitive habits because we all live in the 3D space. It’s a logical step and actually 58 percent of SOLIDWORKS users have considered defining dimensions and tolerances directly in 3D to reduce 2D drawings. Even more encouragingly, 20 percent have done so (Source: SOLIDWORKS customer base survey, 2015, sample size: 524).

The launch of SOLIDWORKS MBD, building upon the advantages of SOLIDWORKS existing capabilities such as DimXpert and eDrawings, provides a dedicated product to serve our customer’s MBD needs. Inspired by this innovative product, engineers are now wondering HOW, not whether, to implement MBD. Previous blogs on “How to get started with Model-Based Definition” and “MBD User Success Stories” accumulated several times higher page views than similar posts. However, there are still many questions to answer. For example:

  • How to manage the cultural shock due to this shift?
  • How to motivate a variety of job functions?
  • How to handle objections?
  • What new processes to establish?
  • How to communicate with shop floor and supply chain?
  • What to change in product design and manufacturing?
  • How to enable intelligent 3D manufacturing applications?

These are all profound questions that need comprehensive and practical answers. Let’s take one step at a time by first learning from pioneers’ experiences and lessons. Table 1 summarized 10 DOs and DONTs in MBD implementation based on experiences of dozens of manufacturing businesses around the globe. This blog series will dive into these 20 key recommendations categorized into three key aspects:

  • People: organizational structure and mindset.
  • Process: methodology, procedures, and tools.
  • Product: product design and manufacturing.

Please note this summary is just a start and is far from a thorough implementation guide, which will require much more in-depth analysis and practical customization per specific manufacturing practices. Also this list is based on current engineering reality. Ideal scenarios will be discussed, but the focus will be pragmatic measures that most manufacturers can adopt today.


Please stay tuned to this blog series. To learn more about SOLIDWORKS MBD, please visit its product page. Also welcome to discuss with me at Twitter (@OboeWu) or LinkedIn (OboeWu).

Oboe Wu

Product portfolio manager of SOLIDWORKS MBD, passionate about smart manufacturing opportunities, Keen listener to customer challenges, Sharp problem solver with 20 years of experiences in engineering, Sleepless father trying best to take care of a baby daughter.