Next-generation CAD configurators

Sept. 13, 2007
Numerous manufacturers have online size and spec programs that provide design engineers with CAD files of stock products.

Hiroshi Nodo
Director, Factory Automation Components Business
Misumi USA Inc. Schaumburg, Ill.

So-called CAD configurators take it a step further. They let engineers customize and configure stock components, then download the native CAD files into assembly drawings, saving significant time during design and build cycles. Part numbers of configured parts key to the machine-tool code for making them, streamlining the manufacturing process.

In addition, more-advanced CAD configurators give instant price and shipping information, so companies don't have to wait for a local machine shop to provide it. Knowing this information up front lets companies place orders only when components are needed for a machine build, lowering inventory carrying costs. A back-end ordering mechanism gangs together orders and retains historical parts data for customer use on future builds or other projects as well as at multiple facilities throughout a corporate network.

Even more-advanced CAD configurators dovetail with customer purchasing procedures. This lets engineering and procurement quickly and easily obtain a request for quotation (RFQ). Users already familiar with a manufacturer's components or printed catalogs may search parts by a part-number prefix. Listings for identified parts include all pertinent data such as RoHS-compliance specs, at the component level, along with all configurable parameters.

Further, CAD configurators can support advanced business models that eliminate minimum order quantities or setup/tooling charges. For example, it is possible to order a single precision linear shaft or washer, even one that is configured.

Misumi ( is a maker of mechanical, motion control, and press/die components.

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