Haven't got the manpower to take on another job? Balking at the prospect of buying more equipment? Nervous about spending more money on training? Try outsourcing your CAD work and watch your worries disappear right before your eyes!
According to Werner Karwinski, president of CAD Design Enterprises, Inc. (Hawthorn Woods, IL), a mold/product design service provider, sending out CAD work has a myriad of benefits - expertise being one of the most important. "Service providers have years of experience, which a moldmaker may not have in-house," Karwinski notes, "and we are up-to-date with the latest technology."
In addition, CAD outsourcers can provide quick turnaround and since they are paid on a project-to-project basis, savings can be realized by not having to hire full-time designers. "Most smaller shops with six or less people outsource their designs," Karwinski states. "But, if a larger tool shop has orders for several molds to be built in a short amount of time, it often has no choice but to seek help to meet scheduled delivery times.
"Mold designers love to get involved and have a good relationship with their moldmakers," Karwinski continues. "The design is a road map to get to your final destination - the tool and the resulting part for the OEM - and if the design itself is leading the mold builder in the wrong direction it will take too long to get to the right point. That's what we're here for, to draw the map."
Planning Your Route
Dependability and quality should top a moldmaker's list of what he should be looking for in a CAD service provider - in addition to making sure the provider has modern equipment. "No moldmaker wants to start a job with someone he cannot depend on - in terms of delivery of the job and quality," Karwinski asserts. "Word-of-mouth is the best way to find a good CAD person. Ask your outsourcer who they've done work for. A reputable designer should provide sample drawings of detailed designs or electronic files and sample designs."
As an added bonus, experienced CAD outsourcers should possess knowledge in other areas like specific part functions and product design, according to Karwinski. "Those providers that can go beyond mold design will only enhance a moldmaker's work," he states.
Of course, there's really no way to know if you will be satisfied with a service provider's work until you send them a job, he adds. "Talk to them and try them out," Karwinski urges. "If you like what you see, then you can begin a rapport and build a relationship. A lot of back and forth communication is involved, and it will take some time to get to know each other."
The general rule of thumb for the mold builder is to give the mold designer as much detail as possible. "The moldmaker must be specific about the type of tool he is looking for," Karwinski explains. "The more information they provide, the better we can be of service to them."
Karwinski elaborates on the process. First, a preliminary design is started and then discussed either over the phone or in person. "Details can then be ironed out," he comments. "For example, will the mold need a slide action or special lifter so the part can be released and ejected? Is the mold builder looking for a mold for high production or just a short run? How many parts will the tool run? After that, the preliminary design gets sent to the moldmaker, who will then discuss specifics with his customers. Hopefully an agreement is reached and we will discuss any changes so we can proceed.
"After the design phase comes the detail phase," Karwinski continues. "In some cases, the mold builder already has the electronic file and can go ahead with programming while the service provider finishes the design. It is very advantageous for the mold builder to be working on the machining end while the CAD designer finishes the design."
Therefore, it's quite possible to get where you need to go without getting lost as long as you stick to your directions. Ask questions, don't deviate from your planned destination, and your final mold should arrive in one piece in a timely fashion - without traffic delays.