Current CAD Collaboration Tools

For manufacturers, New Product Development and execution of existing projects requires various stakeholders to collaborate on the digital asset, the 3D CAD model, from an early design stage to the project commissioning stage and beyond. The most popular ways in which organizations collaborate around 3D CAD data today are listed below:

  1. Email for sending CAD files or screenshots of model states
  2. FTP site or use a storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive to upload and share either the native CAD file or exported file formats
  3. Screen sharing session with various stakeholders, while a single operator, the CAD designer shows around the model
  4. Product Data Management (PDM) systems in larger organizations, which requires collaborator to check out files from the Vault using custom logins

These collaboration tools are used for both internal and external collaboration, the first one between fellow CAD designers and engineers and the other primarily with non-CAD users.

Internal CAD Collaboration between designers and External CAD Collaboration between designers and non-CAD users

Want to know more about the current trends in CAD Collaboration? Get in touch with our experts…
CAD Collaboration Challenges

A Cadalyst survey of design organizations reveals that to this day, Email, despite being an ‘official backdoor’ which jeopardies IT security and IP, is the most common form of CAD collaboration in these organizations. Unfortunately, the current workflows for CAD and design collaboration don’t help in effective communication of design intent and face the following challenges.

  1. Requires stakeholders to send files back and forth over email and dealing with software version, file formats and compatibility challenges while trying to view the shared files
  2. Create IT security issues since these channels are the official backdoor to secure communication methods
  3. Involves data translation challenges and gives permanent access to the other person with no way to revoke access to the person once the project is complete/ intent is achieved
  4. Physical travel to have designers and customers sit next to each other to simultaneously collaborate on the same 3D model
  5. Cheap workarounds like a screen sharing session on GoToMeeting, Zoom or Teamviewer and getting on the phone, which remove independent perspectives on the model, forcing the process to run serially, one person at a time, defeating the whole point of collaboration
  6. Collaboration tools like PDM, which are difficult to setup and administer are good for collaboration between CAD users but difficult to use for non-CAD users who might not be proficient in CAD workflows and tools

For more details on the challenges posed by your current CAD collaboration approach, get in touch with us.
Real-time CAD Collaboration Solution

A survey of CAD users suggests that one of the main reasons email/ screen sharing tools is widely used for CAD design collaboration is its simplicity, despite other shortcomings. To successfully address the problems identified above, organizations need a secure 3D CAD collaboration platform that can concurrently provide each user independent access to interrogate the model, while making the process as simple as doing a screen sharing session. The Exxar Huddle platform offers a cloud based meeting solution for CAD Collaboration for manufacturers who are globally distributed and working remotely. Exxar Huddle allows users to instantly collaborate with customers over a secure cloud meeting, allowing them to review and markup the CAD model. Think of it as ‘Zoom for 3D CAD and design data’. Exxar addresses the key CAD Collaboration challenges faced by the industry in the following manner.

  1. Cloud based meeting solution meant for 3D models with both concurrent visual and audio communication
  2. Fully authenticated secure access ensuring no IT security challenges enabling collaboration without ever sharing CAD files
  3. Native 3D CAD application support with no need for data translation/ import/ export at a file system level
  4. Multi-user, concurrent collaboration, with each user represented by a personal avatar in an immersive backdrop environment
  5. Independent viewpoints and interaction with the model that allows multiple users to collaborate in real-time.
  6. Easy to use for both CAD and non-CAD users with 1-click access to host a collaborative meeting

⍻1– Available only in certain PDM variants with supporting web interfaces like SOLIDWORKS PDM Web2

⍻2– Mobile data view is a shared screen share view not an independent view

Benefits of CAD Collaboration with Exxar
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With the adoption of Exxar into the CAD collaboration process, manufacturing companies are able to benefit from the following aspects

  1. No spend on additional IT infrastructure investment for collaboration. Simple, one-click process to CAD collaboration with support for streaming CAD data and audio communication
  2. Reduced data security risks and full IP protection, by enabling CAD collaboration with no sharing of CAD data at a file system level
  3. Exxar Stream technology for supporting 3D CAD applications without any data conversion/ import/ export
  4. Better communication of design intent between various internal and external stakeholders including design team, project managers and customers, with avatars and audio communication, giving the same presence of collaborating in a physical face-to-face meeting. Think of it as mimicking a physical meeting with a physical prototype of the product
  5. Early involvement of customers and other stakeholders in the collaboration process reducing the incidence of errors in later stages of the project
  6. Easy installation and deployment in under 10 minutes

Get a FREE trial of Exxar Huddle and experience real-time CAD Collaboration and Communication

Mechanical Engineer turned Marketer, with over 15 years of experience in the 3D CAD space. On a mission to liberate CAD data and delivering value using the cloud and XR tech.

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