Three Tips to Avoid Getting Trumped: Protecting your 3D CAD Files from Being Copied
Written By: Cat McClintock

Photo Disney/ABC Television Group via Flickr

The speech. Yes. That one. You know the one we’re talking about. In case you don’t know or have chosen to forget about it, a recap: Last week, Melania Trump gave a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention. The delegates loved it. But some reporters weren’t so impressed. They noted that a whole paragraph from the speech was lifted from another speech made 8 years earlier by first lady, Michelle Obama. Pure coincidence or a fully-fledged rip-off?

 We’re not going to attempt to answer. But in product design terms, this serves as a gentle reminder to make sure your IP is safe. Imagine burning the midnight oil, sweating blood, and diligently shepherding 3D CAD models for a new product and awaiting its manufacture. Then months later you’re at Target picking up some BBQ supplies and you see it. Your design, in a box, on the shelves, for sale, from your biggest competitor. 

 Your response? Perhaps it involves falling to your knees, scream-weeping, and pounding the floor with your fists in the middle of the “Outdoor Fun” aisle. Again, pure coincidence or a full-fledged rip-off?

 Don’t wait for this to happen. When you’re designing with Creo, you have numerous ways to protect your work from getting lifted –purposefully or accidentally. Here are three ways you can make sure your intellectual property is safe.

Shrinkwrap the Model

Many of us work on extended teams, with product data crossing company firewalls. For example, a supplier might need to design a component to fit into an assembly, and so need access to your 3D model. But does the supplier need to see all the details of your complete model? You can “dumb down” the parts they don’t need to see by using Creo’s shrinkwrap feature. A “shrinkwrap” collects and copies surface data from an assembly into a single, lightweight feature.

With shrinkwrap features, much of the internal detail is excluded. Plus, if you struggle with downloading and manipulating large assemblies, shrinkwrapped features provide one way to make large assemblies more manageable.

Make the Most of Visualization Files

One smart way to share designs, especially outside the company, is via Creo View MCAD. This viewer lets others load and inspect your 3D MCAD information even if they don’t have access to Creo.

Everyone can use this intuitive software to bring 3D MCAD product models, assemblies, drawing, images and documents to their desktops with a few clicks. But while they can measure, section, and compare models, they can’t modify them. And for extra security, the software allows critical models, drawings and documents to be watermarked—so there’s no question about where the file came from.

 Take NASA (yes, that NASA). The organization’s latest Mission to Mars found them with copious design documents, drawings, and model files. By using Creo View MCAD for visualization, NASA had a robust watermark tool already in place.

 They created different watermark files for different types of information or release states. Watermarks can contain text, images, and even dynamic information pulled from the PLM system. This ensures that intellectual property is protected when exchanging documents with partners or suppliers

Watermark appears in Creo View MCAD

Be the enforcer that you always wanted to be by watermarking your 3D data.

Manage Your Data with PLM 

Not to make you too paranoid, but you can also have trade secrets and intellectual property (like formulas, tools, processes – and yes ideas) lifted if you don’t have the tools to protect yourself from outside partners and suppliers (most play nice, but some might not).

A PLM system can determine whether a person is authorized to access the data, while also streamlining the product development process. With this type of system in place, requests for product data—regardless of where it originates within the company or supply chain—can be managed by a single system. You can even control access to individual parts and assemblies, so your most sensitive data isn’t available to everyone who gets into the system.

With PLM, you collaborate effectively while following any relevant regulations, commercial IP laws, and security protocols of all countries involved – and probably sleep better. Probably better than Melania Trump’s speechwriters.

Ready to try Creo and take advantage of its myriad ways it protects your ideas, designs and IP? Learn what to look for, discover what you need in a 3D CAD product, and find what prices will fit with your budget. Download our free e-book on purchasing 3D CAD software. 

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Tags: CAD
About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years experience working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she was employed editing science journals and as a technician in medical device manufacturing. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics.