What is Multi-CAD in PLM and Why Does it Matter?

Written by: Jeff Zemsky

Read Time: 5 min

In the increasingly complex world of product development, companies navigate the challenges of meeting diverse market, customer, and regulatory demands by employing multiple CAD systems for designing various product parts. This approach is sometimes necessary due to niche design needs, but it is often due to organizational preferences or the result of mergers/acquisitions, introducing significant challenges for product lifecycle management (PLM).

PLM's goal is to manage a product's entire lifecycle, from conception to disposal, which involves intricate coordination among various stakeholders and managing vast amounts of data. The use of multiple CAD systems can exacerbate these challenges if the PLM system is not fit to accommodate.

What is multi-CAD in PLM?

Multi-CAD in PLM is the ability to manage and integrate data from different CAD systems within a single PLM system. Multi-CAD in PLM enables companies to streamline and simplify their product development processes across different CAD systems. Multi-CAD in PLM allows companies to:

  • Access and view data from different CAD systems in a common interface
  • Convert and exchange data between different CAD systems without losing information or quality
  • Collaborate and communicate with different stakeholders using a common data format and language
  • Control and track changes and revisions of data from different CAD systems
  • Optimize and validate the performance and quality of products using data from different CAD systems

Why does multi-CAD in PLM matter?

Multi-CAD in PLM matters because it can help companies improve their product development efficiency, quality, and innovation. Multi-CAD in PLM can help you:

  • Reduce product development time and costs by eliminating data conversion and translation errors and delays
  • Enhance product development flexibility and agility by enabling the use of the best CAD system for each design task
  • Improve product development collaboration and coordination by facilitating data sharing and communication across different CAD systems
  • Increase product development quality and reliability by ensuring data consistency and accuracy across different CAD systems
  • Boost product development innovation and competitiveness by leveraging the capabilities and features of different CAD systems

Customer point-of-view: Lufthansa Technik

Our customer, Lufthansa Technik, is a leading provider of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for aircraft, engines, and components. With global operations and over 25+ years of service, Lufthansa Technik came to a point where they needed to consolidate their parts data management to one PLM system. A determining factor of that PLM system was the ability to support a multi-CAD enterprise. We sat down with Severin Todt, Senior Director of IT at Lufthansa Technik, to talk about their digital thread journey, especially how it related to consolidating to one PLM system that can support a multi-CAD enterprise.

PLM Image Lufthansa Technik Severin Todt on Choosing a MultiCad PLM System

Severin had this to say:

When we were thinking about consolidating PLM, we had to choose which PLM system to use and which company [we wanted to work with] on our journey towards one PLM system. And out of that decision or out of that challenge in the idea, we decided to have an MVP (minimum-viable-product) to prove or to let the companies prove that they're capable of delivering what they want to sell us. And PTC told us they have the best multi-CAD integration, and we doubted it, but they proved on the MVP, that multi-CAD is best supported by the PTC Windchill.

We did compare that to other PLM systems. I wouldn't tell you which PLM systems, but it was impressive to see that the facts and the figures that we could see from the pre-sales were proven in the real-life MVP as well. It's not only about the multi-CAD environment that is supported well, but it was the way that PTC performed on our evaluation. So, we not only challenged the technology, but the support we got from the team. And that was pretty convincing as well.

You can watch the full interview here.

Windchill is a best-in-class PLM system

In the realm of product lifecycle management, Windchill stands out as a premier solution for multi-CAD enterprises seeking to revolutionize their product development journey. Bridging the gap between complexity and innovation, Windchill offers a robust, flexible, and smart PLM platform designed to meet the multifaceted demands of modern businesses. By enabling digital transformation and fostering a competitive edge, Windchill is not just a tool but a strategic ally in navigating the product development landscape. Let's delve into the myriad ways Windchill empowers teams and transforms processes:

  • Seamless multi-CAD collaboration: Windchill supports a wide array of CAD file formats, facilitating effortless collaboration across various CAD tools. This means teams can work in their preferred CAD software without worrying about compatibility issues.
  • Native CAD data management: Store and manage CAD data in its original format, eliminating the need for conversions or translations. This ensures data integrity and simplifies management tasks.
  • Synchronized CAD data: Automatically synchronize changes and revisions across different CAD systems, maintaining consistency and accuracy throughout your product data.
  • Unified digital thread: Connect every stage of product development, from concept through to service, integrating CAD data with essential product information for a holistic view.
  • Real-time insights and analytics: Share actionable insights into product performance and usage, supporting continuous improvement and driving innovation forward.
  • Integration with cutting-edge technologies: Windchill integrates seamlessly with IoT platforms like ThingWorx, augmented reality platforms like Vuforia, and generative design tools such as Creo. This opens up possibilities for predictive maintenance, immersive product experiences, and AI-driven design optimization.

Embracing a multi-CAD strategy with Windchill

In the landscape of product development, the integration of multi-CAD in PLM systems, exemplified by Windchill, stands as a critical enabler of innovation, efficiency, and collaboration. The experience Lufthansa Technik had with Windchill highlights the transformative potential of a unified PLM environment that seamlessly accommodates diverse CAD tools.

Windchill's capacity to bridge the gaps between different CAD systems, ensuring data integrity and streamlining the product development process, underscores its status as a best-in-class PLM solution. For companies aiming to navigate the complexities of modern product design and manufacturing, embracing a multi-CAD strategy within a PLM system like Windchill is indispensable for achieving heightened productivity, quality, and market competitiveness.

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Tags: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Windchill CAD Engineering Collaboration

About the Author

Jeff Zemsky

Jeff is the VP for Windchill Digital Thread. His team leads Navigate, Visualization, Windchill UI and Digital Product Traceability. Prior to joining PTC, Jeff spent 16 years implementing and using PLM, CAD and CAE at Industrial, High Tech & Consumer Products companies including leading the first Windchill PDMLink implementation in 2002. He was active in the PTC/USER community serving as Chair for the Windchill Solutions committee and on the Board of Directors for PTC/USER helping to bring voice of customer input together and create a community where people could network for tools and processes. Jeff attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Lehigh University.