Survey shows CAD users can't easily share files

Sept. 15, 2005
A lot of engineers are having trouble getting one brand of CAD system to understand files generated by another.

So says a survey recently conducted by Kubotek USA ( The company polled over a thousand users and managers to find out whether interoperability problems are widespread.

Interoperability, or ease of sharing files, is important because it affects whether individuals in different company departments or in different companies can see or use the work of others.

The survey reported that some industries, such as mold/tool/die and forging, have more interoperability problems than others. Thus, over 90% of those respondents say they receive half or fewer models from other companies in their preferred CAD format, compared to a cross-industry rate of 75%.

For the automotive and transportation industries, 37% say they use four or more different CAD tools each month, compared to a cross-industry rate of 25%, and 41% use two or fewer CAD tools per month, compared to a crossindustry rate of 53%.

Survey respondents indicated there's no standardization of CAD formats even within their own company. In fact, evidence suggests a single company-wide CAD format may not be useful because many engineers need different CAD tools to do specific jobs. Getting information from the outside is a problem as well. Over 77% of respondents say less than half of all CAD models coming from customers or suppliers are in their preferred format.

Most of the survey's respondents (63%) reside in North America. The rest are in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The survey focused on industries including manufacturing; engineering and design services; aerospace and defense; and automotive and transportation. The survey also showed company size affects interoperability. Sixty-one percent of the respondents came from small companies ( , 100 employees); 29% were from medium-size firms (100 to 1,000); and 10% worked at large enterprises ( . 1,000). At companies with more than 500 employees, 26% of the respondents said they use five or more CAD tools/month, while 60% use three or more. Of the companies with fewer than 50 employees, 83% said they got at least half their models in a format different from what they prefer. Almost 30% said they never got models in their preferred format.

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