How 3D CAD Helps Make the Most of Design Compromises
Written by: Gavin Quinlan

All products are born in ideas.  They don’t spring to life; they often crawl from the surf, haltingly, step by step, transitioning through an often ruthless natural selection process until they reach the world in a final realized form.  Products are as much about process as about inspiration.

Compromise is an inescapable part of that process, and compromises can be frustrating, to say the least.  Sacrifices in functionality may need to be made to bring your product under an acceptable price point.  An aesthetically appealing design may eliminate components or capacity that you initially planned for.  On the other hand, in order for  customers to adequately maintain the product, that attractively slim form may have to be reconsidered.  

Compromise can bring out the best or the worst in a final product. Image via Flickr

Virtually no product survives the design process in its original form.  And often that is a good thing as new ideas and even constraints can lead to better products overall  But sometimes, compromise results in lost opportunity. So how does anyone ensure the best outcome for their product?

Fortunately, modern 3D CAD platforms, such as Creo, can help you make the most out of your inevitable design compromises.  They can do so, by:

Strongly enhancing visualization.  By combining state- of-the-art 3D visualization (not just on a computer screen, but via virtual reality and augmented reality appliances) with strong tolerance and mechanical simulation tools, 3D CAD software can powerfully show you exactly how your design choices are going to impact the final product.  Modern 3D CAD software takes much of the guesswork out of the process.

Making geometries more flexible.  Particularly with a modern parametric 3D CAD platform, engineers can quickly and easily adjust the parameters of their designs, in order to accurately identify areas of effective compromise that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.  This enhanced level of flexibility means considerably less time required to evaluate, accept, or reject a proposed compromise – and more options for determining superior (or at least acceptable) alternatives.

Enabling collaboration.  Effective compromise is really just another way of describing effective negotiation.  A modern 3D CAD platform will include features that enable strong collaboration, not simply among engineering staff, but also among their colleagues in marketing, management, procurement, manufacturing, and at all stages along the supply chain.  For example, a lightweight viewer can allow team members who aren’t 3D CAD experts to load, review, and even mark up models, without being overwhelmed by a full-blown 3D CAD system. Having everyone on the same detailed, easy-to-understand page makes reaching consensus that much easier.

Reducing manufacturing limitations as a source of compromise.  For many compromised product designs, the problem is not in the design at all, but in the inability of an established manufacturing process to render it into physical form.  A feature-rich, modern 3D CAD system should include work with both traditional and emerging manufacturing methods, from conventional CNC to next-generation 3D printing platforms.  This, in turn, helps to reduce manufacturing constraints as a primary culprit in unnecessary product design compromises.

Compromise will never go away completely. But as technology rapidly advances, your team can take advantage of digital design tools to help understand the impact of compromises that arise--without fear of putting out lesser products.   Done right, those compromises may well lead to your finest design achievements – and your most enduring product successes.

Download the 5 steps to concept design infographic

Tags: CAD Additive Manufacturing
About the Author Gavin Quinlan