Reducing CAD Design Cycle Time by Including Defined Analyses

Reducing CAD Design Cycle Time by Including Defined Analyses

In today’s fast-paced engineering landscape, efficiency is paramount. One critical area for improvement lies in Computer Aided Design (CAD) cycles. This article delves into the potential for substantial reductions in CAD design cycles through the integration of well-defined analyses directly into CAD software.

The Foundation of Efficiency

CAD software plays a pivotal role in designing load-bearing mechanical components and structural assemblies. Each component must meet a range of design and operational criteria, necessitating engineering analyses and tests before finalizing the design.

The Conventional CAD Design Cycle

The conventional CAD design cycle involves a designer submitting an electronic design file to an engineer for analysis. If alterations are needed, the engineer provides feedback to implement changes in the CAD software. This cycle may iterate multiple times, consuming valuable days or even weeks. Even a few hours saved in the design cycle can translate to significant cost savings.

Navigating the CAD Design Cycle

Understanding the steps involved in a typical CAD design cycle provides valuable insights into potential efficiencies.

1. Geometric Constraints

A robust CAD software package addresses geometric constraints like dimensional tolerances and fillets, ensuring precision in design.

2. Static Load Analysis

Utilizing Finite Element Analysis software, engineers conduct static stress analysis to identify areas of high stress gradients. This enables the calculation of Von Mises stresses and strains within the component. Safety factors and yield failure criteria are then applied to validate the design’s static load-bearing capabilities.

3. Dynamic Load Analysis

Components subject to cyclic loading, such as those exposed to hurricanes, seismic activity, or oceanic environments, require specialized analysis. Finite Element Analysis is employed to assess the dynamic load-bearing capacity.

4. Cost Optimization

Engineering analyses are performed to confirm that material choices and manufacturing processes result in the most cost-effective solution.

Maximizing Efficiency through Integrated Analyses

Incorporating analyses directly into CAD software promises transformative benefits in terms of time and cost savings.

Streamlining the Process

The CAD designer initiates the process by creating an initial design and submitting the electronic file for analysis. The engineer conducts static finite element analysis, identifying stress gradients and determining load capacities.

Iterative Refinement

Design iterations refine the component’s design, ensuring it meets criteria like maximum distortion strain energy and factor of safety.

Fatigue Analysis

Fatigue analysis identifies the maximum allowable Von Mises stress to prevent fatigue failure, leading to further design refinements.

Beyond the Basics

Considerations beyond structural analysis may be crucial. Factors like corrosive environments or extreme temperatures necessitate additional analyses.

Corrosive Environments

Structures exposed to corrosive elements, like oil production platforms, demand specialized wear analysis.

Temperature Extremes

Components operating in high or low-temperature environments require thermoelastic analysis to account for material property changes.

The Bottom Line: Time and Cost Savings

Design iterations can be time-consuming and costly. Assuming a 24-hour design iteration at a professional billing rate of $100 per hour, two iterations could cost $4800. By integrating engineering analyses into CAD software, these costs can be significantly reduced.

Embracing the Future: Integrated CAD and CAE

In recent years, CAD design software has evolved into integrated CAD and CAE solutions. This trend further underscores the potential for efficiency gains in the design process.


Efficiency is the cornerstone of modern engineering, and the integration of well-defined analyses into CAD software presents a compelling avenue for improvement. By streamlining the design cycle, engineers can achieve substantial time and cost savings. Learn More

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