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Facing Your 3D CAD Demons

References Cited

Mechanical Computer Aided Design (MCAD)

Most organizations have not achieved their desired level of Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) maturity. What to do? Step 1: face your demons. That is, identify the barriers preventing your organization from becoming the MBE “of your dreams.” It’s easier to move forward once you understand what’s holding you back.

CULTURE and TECHNOLOGY are the two common themes under which most 3D CAD adoption and implementation barriers can be categorized.


Resistance to change can occur both at an upper management level and individual user level because people are naturally resistant to change. It’s important to recognize that this may be holding back your organization!

So, MBE sounds great, they say. Oh sure, we can look into that, they say. What will this cost us? Oh, what’s that you say? How about five dollars? Let’s face it, change comes with a price tag. But sooner or later, so does an inability to change.


“The problem is, we don’t make hoods, we make cars. You have to be able to integrate those smaller pieces of digital data into the larger digital data sets, otherwise you’re not really seeing the full benefit of the efficiency, of the reusing your CAD. You want to reuse it up in the next assemblies.”

The inability for CAD systems to manage large assemblies and large sets of 3D CAD data has inhibited the adoption of Model-Based Definition in the past. There wasn’t enough live syncing and automatic transfer from CAD creation through storage, configuration management, procuring, and building, especially in the aerospace and defense world. Lifecycle management is such a huge portion of a product’s existence.

There was concern that CAD software suites, whether the CAD creation software or the data management software, couldn’t handle all of the product’s lifecycle needs. Pumping that amount of digital data through a network system has been challenging, for sure, whether from network bandwidth, server hard drive, or work station limitations.

Plus, companies are very nervous about “big data” from a security perspective. A valid concern, but data CAN be secure and more effective for appropriate use within an organization’s business practices.

It’s time to face our demons. Jot down what’s inhibiting MBE greatness at your organization. Discuss with your peers. Chat with management. Are you all on the same page?

In our next installment, we’ll dispel some misconceptions about your 3D CAD demons.

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  • Hey Jen. First off, thanks for the guest post. I like hearing from folks like you that are actually implementing MBE initiatives with manufacturers.

    Second, I’ll offer a little research context. In the MBE Study I conducted in April 2014, I asked respondents to identify the biggest challenges to adoption. Technology challenges, lacking functionality to author or consume MBE models, were the two LOWEST barriers identified. I think you’re right in that culture is still a concern.

    Thanks again Jen. Great post.

    • Chad – There are still some technology “devil in the detail” challenges that are not yet supported by major CAD systems that provide 3D annotations. Examples of this might be: semantic overall profile tolerance (digitally associated to all appropriate surfaces and/or features), and the lack of understanding (from CAD software providers and CAD authors) of how assembly annotations should be applied.

      However, I don’t see that these issues are technically infeasible or insurmountable. Users need to “prove” that they are using and need this capability so that the CAD software companies can appropriately allocate their priorities and provide the necessary improvements.

      Thanks for the forum!