If you’ve been reading my posts recently, you can probably tell I’m a little passionate about the recent changes happening with how organizations can work with multi-CAD data. Back at the beginning of June, I wrote about The Plummeting Costs of Switching CAD. In February, I focused on Putting a Finer Point on Multi-CAD, explaining some of the subtle differences in a number of multi-CAD topics.
Today, I want to focus on a different side of multi-CAD: Data Migration. I know, it’s not necessarily the most exciting topic. It is, however, a really important one. As in, easier migrations make for less painful days for you and the company.
Painful and manual data migration
To date, the process of migrating a bunch of CAD data has often been painful. That is, it was excruciating.
The first phase of such a project was to exchange design data between CAD applications in standard formats. There were lots of batch ‘conversion’ tools that would ingest a mountain of 3D models in one format and spit out another mount of 3D models in a different format. That activity might work fine. But the quality of the output invariably was poor. Some percentage of those output files failed to make a solid. That means there was a hole somewhere in the outer surface of the model. That had to be painfully stitched back together. Furthermore, you had to verify that what was translated actually matched the original model. That was another painful process.
Despite how painful all that might sound, that was the easiest half of the migration. For any designs that needed to be tweaked and changed, the model needed to be rebuilt with features and parametric controls. This often turned into such a monumental task that organizations decided to transition over to a new CAD application on a project-by-project basis because the dependency on existing parts would be smaller and, thus, would require a much smaller remodeling effort.
There’s no doubt about it: Migrating design data was very painful.
On-demand data migration
How have things changed now? Well, a number of new capabilities in some CAD applications have actually changed the design data migration process dramatically. Let me explain.
First off, let’s talk about the scenario where you just want to get the design data, in an unchanged manner, into the new CAD application. In this scenario, the ability to open design data in its native format replaces the need to translate through industry standards. This capability allows companies to completely avoid the translate-fix-validate process. In fact, this activity doesn’t generate a new model file at all. That data can stay in that format. That, by itself, saves organizations an immense amount of time.
Second, let’s talk about the other scenario where you need to get a changed version of the design into the new CAD application. Interestingly enough, there are now two options here. After you have opened that model in its native format in the new CAD application, it can be changed by the original CAD application and synchronized. That means that when the model is changed in the original CAD application, those changes automatically show up in the new CAD application. Obviously, this means that the organization needs to keep a copy of the original CAD application around.
The other approach to getting a changed version of the design into the new CAD application relies on two new capabilities. Once the model is opened from its native format, the new CAD application recognizes when a user is starting to make a change. It then prompts the user to save the model as a new file in the new CAD application’s format. This is the transition to where control is passed from one CAD application to the other. Once that is done, the user can leverage direct modeling functionality to push, pull and drag geometry. This completely nullifies the need to parametrically remodel the design, saving individuals and organizations a lot of non-value added time.
Recap and questions
In the past, migrating data from one CAD application to another was incredibly painful. It involved bulk translations that broke geometry, required manual fixes as well as verification. It also required parametrically remodeling designs where changes were needed.
Today, the ability to natively open other CAD application’s data, intelligently recognize change and use direct modeling for modifications has changed data migration dramatically.
Originally posted by Chad Jackson: The On-Demand Data Migration Strategy.