Love it or hate it, Apple is one company that certainly deserves a central place in the world’s design hall of fame. The company’s success can be summarised by just two simple principles: products have to be easy to use and they have to create great customer experiences. Clear, but difficult to imitate, these two principles also apply to CAD software tools. Here, Adam Bannaghan, technical director of Design Rule, explains how KISTERS 3DViewStation uses a similar approach to fulfil the 3D viewing needs of today’s design engineers.
Although computer-aided design (CAD) is widely accepted and used across industries, most software tools haven’t changed fundamentally in the last ten years. However, two changes are clear: off-the-shelf PCs have replaced costly workstations running on UNIX and the collaborative functionality of software has significantly increased since the launch of AutoCAD 2000i - the first web enabled CAD software using Microsoft Web Meeting as a collaboration tool.
Despite the increasing complexity and specialisation of CAD software, some of the main challenges remain. To overcome these challenges, progressive companies looking for a high performing 2D and 3D viewer that doesn’t require a high-end CAD workstation, are looking towards a new alternative available on the UK market - KISTERS 3DViewStation.
KISTERS’ CAD viewer is a reliable, efficient and economic tool for visualisation and Digital MockUp (DMU). 3DViewStation is generally used for sales, engineering, project reviews, change management, technical documentation and collaboration, but can also go beyond these functions. It can be used as a standalone app or integrated into a wide range of systems, from PLM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, to product configuration as well as service lifecycle management solutions. This helps manufacturing companies leverage the product design process in wider company operations.
Every company’s design requirements are different, so working closely with a CAD expert to ensure you get what you need out of your CAD viewing tool is essential. Furthermore, because CAD viewers are now used across companies — often by people with varying technical and non-technical backgrounds — it is absolutely essential that all modern software is fit for purpose, offering the right blend of functionality.
KISTERS take a different approach to other market leaders when it comes to developing their software. By working closely with end users, product designers, documentation experts, marketing and sales or board level staff, KISTERS understands their requirements and can model the software to address them. This unique approach ensures companies get a bespoke software tool that is fast and easy to use instead of a costly and over-specified software package.
As design files grow in size and complexity, they demand more processing power, particularly when using complex CAD viewers. This means more expensive computing equipment is necessary to read and edit CAD files. Or is it?
Performance is one thing that really sets 3DViewStation apart from the competition because it allows quick file viewing, measurement, sectioning and mark-up, meaning users can complete tasks in a continuous flow.
The software works seamlessly with extremely large assemblies. For example, it can select 5,000 parts of a specific colour in a 100,000-part assembly in less than one second. This is particularly helpful for the automotive, aerospace and machinery manufacturing environments, where speed and accuracy is mission critical.
3DViewStation is a high-performance 3D viewer that supports a wide range of formats, including CATIA, CreoElements/Pro-Engineer, SolidWorks, Inventor, SolidEdge, Parasolid and neutral formats like STEP, 3D-PDF and JT. It is also a 2D viewer for 2D drawings such as DWG, DXF, DWF, HPGL and PDF, as well as Office documents, such as Word DOCX, Excel XLSX and other image file formats.
Many 3D viewers used for heavy 3D analysis are extremely complex, which can make them difficult to use. By stripping away unnecessary functions and designing a user interface that is close to the look and feel of the familiar Microsoft Office programme family, KISTERS has managed to make its viewer user-friendly and intuitive.
For ease of use, the desktop app and web version, which runs on all mobile devices, of KISTERS 3DViewstation all have the same application programme interface (APIs), making the software easy to use on any device, across platforms and operating systems.
The real added value of a CAD viewer comes in when it is integrated with bigger business systems. All versions of 3DViewStation are intended to be used with a PLM, ERP or other management system, which results in seamless data integration across the enterprise.
KISTERS’ only UK distributor, Design Rule, uses its PLM experience to help companies implement the 3DViewstation software into existing systems with minimal disruption. This way, authorised users in the company gain easy access to relevant CAD data, regardless of what hardware or complementary software they are using. This means companies can view complex CAD files anywhere in virtually any format, all with a simple and cost-effective solution that can be integrated into existing or new PLM or ERP systems.
The best news is that all of this is done seamlessly, in a simple and user friendly manner. It might not generate the kind of global frenzy inspired by the launch of the next iPhone, but it could save your company a significant amount of time and money.
Design Rule will be exhibiting at the Engineering Design Show at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on October 19-20. To find out more about KISTERS 3DViewstation and Design Rule’s PLM solutions, visit the company on stand D72.