There is no doubt computer-aided design or CAD software has changed the game of manufacturing altogether. Manufacturing industry has been using CAD software for sometimes now. These are the times when engineering departments, R&D centres & Design departments use Computer-Aided design (CAD) to ease up the product development process, thereby reducing the entire cycle time. CAD software makes our working fast, efficient & accurate.
While CAD software comes with its own offering of general tools, it is a bit hard to fathom what each individual user may find useful to accomplish very specific tasks. Such limitations have pushed the minds of developers of the CAD systems to come up with the capability of customizing their software to cater to the needs. With customization, it is possible to modify or create new tools that are better suited to our needs. One of the great improvements we can get with customization is to replace a series of commands with a single tool that accomplishes the task.
CAD customization is the activity of creating specific enhancements or tools to support CAD software.
As name suggests, CAD customization means customizing or configuring OOTB (out of the box) CAD software to suit the specific needs of a particular organization.
CAD customization predominantly involves developing supporting tools for CAD software. It is mostly customised which means it is suited to a clients particular requirements. CAD software built en-masse might not satisfy the needs of every requirement, as many organizations have their own specific criteria. That is when customizing CAD software comes into play. Customizing existing CAD software is perhaps the fastest and most economic way of getting the work done.
Steps for Creating a Customization
Before developing customized CAD software, make some preparations as follows:
- Try your hands on a few simple drawings; follow a tutorial to see how the commands work.
- Understand the kind of work the user does, identify the issues he is facing, ask for features the user would like to have.
- Examine the available customization tools and find the most effective way to get the job done.
- An deep understanding of the function library is an absolutely necessary condition for customization.
- Use Software Engineering methods to plan the development of the customized system.
How CAD Customization is done
Most CAD systems provide the following two mechanisms
- Record-Edit-Play of a macro or VB code
VBA stands for Visual Basic Applications, which is an event driven programming language by Microsoft. It also allows integration with other applications that use VBA. The implementation of VBA in CAD customization is easy to learn and use. Developers can create application prototypes and receive feedback on designs quickly. VBA provides an extremely efficient way for manipulating CAD objects and exchanging data with other applications.
- Develop an Add-On using Open APIs or toolkits
Another method for customizing CAD software is by developing add-ons using open source API’s and toolkits. One can develop API implementations by using a developer toolkit. Nowadays, many API’s come as open source which makes the whole operation a lot smoother. API’s can be fabricated as per the requirements and can be applied as an added feature. One important factor is that, the API must be compatible with the said CAD software.
Benefits of CAD Customization
Customization of CAD software has indeed introduced us to many benefits which are as follows:
- Access to a functionality that does not exist in the OOTB package
- Improving the efficiency of the team by providing tools for faster development
- Reducing the manual error in performing many tasks
- Reducing the skill requirement of the operator (A wizard for a process can allow a user with relatively less experience to complete the tasks)
- Capture and protect the proprietary domain knowledge in a custom command/wizard
- By applying time saving automation, it increases productivity
- Reduces workload by huge proportions eliminating tedious tasks, data entries, and numerous repetitive steps.
- The usage of custom made algorithms helps in reducing errors
- Customization is a great mean to integrate a software with latest technologies