The Next Revolution in Product Development: MCAD+ECAD Enterprise Simultaneous Engineering

All product development goals essentially come down to considerations and tradeoffs between time, quality and cost. SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD has been broadly adopted because it empowered every engineer to help better achieve these goals. We used to call this the “Democratization of 3D,” everyone could learn AND afford SOLIDWORKS. The major benefits of modern 3D parametric design software are now well-known and accepted. Very simply stated, a user inputs information and design intent once, then changes are propagated automatically, error-free and easily communicated to relevant functional areas. Changes are much easier and less error-prone, allowing for reduced number and cost of engineering changes. What is less obvious but ultimately more important is that part of the product development process could now to be done in parallel instead of serially, which dramatically improved our customer’s workflow in many areas.

The open architecture and single parametric data model of SOLIDWORKS allows design, simulation, documentation, manufacturing and data management to be fully integrated. Even better, all changes made are automatically communicated and executed across many disciplines without translation or kludgy integrations. Said another way, SOLIDWORKS merely increased the velocity of communications and delivered accurate and up-to-date information to all stakeholders. This in turn allows for better insight to make changes, consider design alternatives, and reduce errors to better achieve those elusive time, quality and cost goals.

To many of you, this is obvious and could be why you now use SOLIDWORKS or similar solutions to be more productive in mechanical engineering field. However, the elephant in the room is that the benefits of a parallel design process have left out one critical group of constituents, Electrical Engineering. Virtually every product requires electricity, either in the product or the manufacturing process for the product. The mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines have been limited in their collaboration and communication with one another by technology, inadequate interchange formats and even culture within organizations. It became clear to SOLIDWORKS that by developing a suite of highly integrated electrical and electronic design tools, we could help streamline communications and facilitate collaboration between MCAD and ECAD disciplines. We believe that employing the same associative and parametric design principals across all engineering disciplines is vital to drive down product development time and cost.

Our vision is for engineering processes to be more parallel and simultaneous using a unified product data model and database, enabling our users to get current and better information sooner, which allows for better decisions earlier in the product development process. This is possible by eliminating the barriers of multiple file translations and out-of-date files resulting from the use of disparate tools and data management environments from multiple suppliers.

Users of the SOLIDWORKS product suite enjoy immediate fully associative change updates without time-consuming and error-prone translations. It is clear that using the same principals, our integrated mechanical, electrical and electronic solutions will allow for much more efficient collaborative design process and empower our customers to develop electro-mechanical systems faster by working more in parallel rather than a traditional serial process. The future is now using proven methods from the recent past.

CJ Shirk

CJ Shirk

CJ is Senior Director at SOLIDWORKS tasked with empowering companies to streamline product development with PCB, Electrical, MCAD, CAE, and PDM Software.