The Data Revolution: Powerful Workflows that Unlock More Agile Collaboration

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For product-focused companies, revenue is inextricably linked to the launch of new products. So logically, expanding your product range—into smart products or customizable products, for example—can introduce additional income streams and increase customer satisfaction. 

But the question is not, “How can we launch more products?” Rather, it’s, “How can I help my design and engineering team do it more collaboratively, with more agility?” 

The answer comes from data. 

“Using integrated solutions...allows us to reduce our design time by half. We’re not repeating work, which is a big-time savings.” –Assaad Hani, Business Analyst, Technica International 

Automation of conceptual design 

It’s easy to have good ideas when you have lot to choose from. But too often, the pressure to deliver design and engineering information at speed to manufacturing forces us to rely on what we already know. It’s common to develop the first viable idea that everyone can agree on—most of us just don’t have the time to iterate and explore every possible option. 

The AU class, Generative Design and the Form Tool in Autodesk Fusion 360 for Concept Design, led by Jeff Smith, reveals a variety of useful automated workflows to investigate multiple design options quickly. From how to use T-Splines to volumetric latticing to generative design in Fusion, you’ll learn how simple it can be to rapidly explore a wide range of concepts. 

Generative design, for example, uses inputs—such as forces, materials, and manufacturing strategies—to provide a range of pre-validated design variations. Just pick your favorite, then narrow the choices by adjusting attributes like weight, safety factor, or simply aesthetics to find a starting point for your next design. 

Design collaboration on smart products 

No matter what your team’s product idea, developing it will most likely be time-consuming and expensive. But that time and cost can increase exponentially in the world of smart products–physical products supported with internet-connected applications to provide additional value to customers. 

When customers purchase smart products, they’re not just purchasing the product itself. They’re buying data-driven insights, product updates, or even tiered feature sets, all with the original physical product you created—no new product range to introduce.  

The rise in smart products is driving an increase in PCBs, requiring close collaboration between electronic and mechanical designers. Melanie Thilo and Richard Hammerl show you how connected eCAD and mCAD can simplify the process in the AU class, Smart Design of Mechanical Components and PCBs in a Seamless Workflow


Data at the center with model-based definition 

Traditionally, teams share design information via technical drawings. But creating them can add extra time to the design engineering process. What if you could simply share your 3D CAD model? 

Model-based definition (MBD) is a set of rules that standardize how dimensions, annotations, and tolerances are added to the models, replacing the need for drawings in your workflow. 

MBD improves collaboration, using your 3D CAD design as the single source of truth for your project for all collaborators and downstream users. 

Want to know more? The AU class, Model-Based Definition: A Key Value Driver for Future Product Development,  led by Eugen Taranov and Melanie Thilo, can guide you through the process of putting 3D CAD data at the center of your design development workflow. 

Simplifying design coordination with CAD interoperability 

Managing the data within your company is one thing. But managing the data you receive from your clients, collaborators, and suppliers is quite another. 

Just when you’ve got your vendor’s CAD model cleaned up and inserted into the design model, you get an updated version and need to start the import process all over again. Just managing which version of the CAD file your team needs to include can be filled with errors. 

Mike Thomas of Prairie machine can help, with his AU class, AnyCAD and the Exchangeability of Inventor. In it, Mike details how you can use ‘AnyCAD’  to reference CAD files in a number of 2D and 3D proprietary formats in Inventor without needing to convert them. 

The referenced files remain editable in the authoring CAD programs, and any updates made to the referenced CAD files will automatically update inside of Inventor. Even if you receive neutral CAD files, or CAD files from outside your company, you can simply save the new version over the top of the old one. 

Of course, all the data can be managed inside Autodesk Vault as well, so you’ll never have to manually track which version of a collaborator's CAD file is up to date again. 

Improving design review with shared views 

The design of new products isn’t limited to the design and engineering team. Many stakeholders are required to review the design during the design development process. 

Stakeholders might be internal to the company, like project managers or procurement specialists, or from outside your company like suppliers, subcontractors, or even clients. 

In the past, this might have meant locking all stakeholders in a meeting room with a stack of technical drawings and a box of red pens and letting them have at it. 

This is no longer a realistic prospect. Stakeholders expect your design data to come to them. However, reviewing designs asynchronously can be time-consuming and confusing. Who has seen the design information? Did they understand the drawings? Who has offered feedback? What if the feedback is contradictory? 

Caleb Funk has an answer for us in his AU class, Sharing Is Caring: Sharing Vault Data Outside the Firewall. Caleb shows how Autodesk Vault can be used to create permission-controlled, web-accessible ‘shared views’ of the design model, allowing all stakeholders to review the same information, saving time and providing a clear audit trail. 

Learn more about collaboration in product development 

To continue learning how designers and engineers like you are improving collaboration in product development with Autodesk design and engineering tools, check out these playlists of classes from AU, the design and make conference: 

For additional free resources for designers and engineers, including case studies and software training, visit our Design & Engineering page