Are you expected to do more CAD work in less time? Is your to-do list longer at the day's end than at its start? Does it feel like meetings and emails are eating up all your design time? If so, you're not alone. CAD professionals everywhere face a demanding work environment, stiff competition, and the pressure to do more with less.
In fact, 47 percent of respondents to a CAD usage survey given to nearly 2,000 3D software users by 3Dconnexion indicated that volume of work and/or hitting deadlines was their primary work challenge. (The full survey findings will come out later this year. Take the survey here and you'll receive a copy of the report when it's done.)
To help ease the CAD professionals' pain, we've tested four productivity tools. They'll help you better collaborate, communicate, and design more efficiently.
GrabCAD Workbench: Create teams and manage access by user for file-sharing, messages, and more with this design collaboration application. Those involved in a project can open designs directly in web browsers -- no CAD software necessary for reviews by non-engineers or designers. (And no worries about accidental changes!) Security, backup, and privacy measures are also in place to keep your projects safe.
Google Drive and/or Dropbox: Create and collaborate on notes, documents, presentations, and spreadsheets with Google Drive and Dropbox. Both services store your documents and files in the cloud, making them accessible from any computer or mobile device. Useful for sharing files with global teams, both tools are free to use (though you'll pay for more cloud storage space). For additional security layers, consider utilizing Google Drive as a part of a Google Apps for Business account.
GoToMeeting: This tool makes mobile meetings easy, especially if you've got engineers patching in from the field. The software -- which runs on your desktop, iPad, iPhone, or Android device -- provides audio and video conferencing capabilities, connects computers, phones, and tablets with ease, and allows you to share your screen with meeting participants. It's perfect for reviewing designs, coordinating with builders or factories, and collaborating on tight deadline projects, no matter what time zone you're in.
Tinkercad and Sketchfab: Share your designs with team members, project leaders, or your company's fan base using Tinkercad and Sketchfab. Like GrabCAD Workbench, both tools are web-based; you and your audience don't need CAD software to view designs. Both Tinkercad and Sketchfab support various file formats and offer easy-to-use user interfaces. Both tools have free versions, as well as paid monthly subscriptions with increased security, storage space, and features tailored to commercial businesses.
For even more recommendations, download 3Dconnexion's free ebook, The CAD Professional's Guide to Lightning-Fast R&D.
— John Moseley is the director of global marketing for 3Dconnexion.