Which CAD Platform to Use for Wooden Furniture Design?
Furniture industry is experiencing a huge growth globally demanding shorter design cycles and faster production to meet ever-increasing custom demands in the market. While the trend is good for furniture manufacturers, the challenging part is that the demands from consumers are towards purchasing exclusive wooden furniture that is complex to design.
Woodworking manufacturers need to have right tools that can help in developing such complex furniture and that too quickly. Multiple software tools are available for designing wooden furniture such as cabinetry, chairs, and accessories for kitchens and bathrooms, with each having its own merits and demerits. Choosing the right one however is important, to ensure that the tool is in sync with your processes and helps in improving the productivity.
Following are the types of furniture design software available in the market:
Universal CAD Tools
Most conventional woodworking units still rely on universal design systems such as AutoCAD, which is widely being used across the globe in multiple industry sectors. While the tool is capable to develop complex designs for the furniture and at times is even better then specialized tools, it lacks important functionalities that can affect the productivity to a great extent. For e.g. AutoCAD does not have a provision to develop exclusive wooden furniture design quickly or generate furniture production information automatically. This limitation causes lots of manual work and stretches the development time to some extent.
Specialized CAD Tools
These are CAD tools developed mostly based on universal CAD systems or have their own development engine to suit furniture specific design requirements. The benefit of utilizing specialized tools is it helps in automating several repetitive tasks to speed up the design process. However, these tools again lack the ability to model complex and exclusive furniture design. Besides, these specialized tools will often be inefficient in handling multiple data formats and can cause interoperability issues wherever supply chain vendors are involved. Also, having specialized tools on board means manufacturer would require training the staff that can cause further delays.
Mechanical CAD Tools
Mechanical design systems are increasingly being used today by furniture manufacturers due to rising complexity in design requirements. Although these systems do allow modeling complex solid and surface geometries made up of any material, there are certain limitations present too. These tools do not allow automating the production documentation and the user is required to add information manually. As such, pure mechanical design systems again involve certain degree of manual work that do not help furniture manufacturers to develop designs quickly.
Add-ons for Mechanical CAD Tools
For complex modeling requirements, such as for the case of furniture design, the capabilities of mechanical design tools can be leveraged by utilizing add-on tools that are developed specifically for furniture production requirements. PASCAM WoodWorks for SOLIDWORKS for example helps in improving the design, modeling and manufacturing requirements in the woodworking sector. It provides the ability to generate wood lists, bill of materials and production data automatically. The tool makes it easy to export 2D drawings, determine component quantities and dimensions, exclusively for cabinet manufacturers, joiners, shopfitters, etc. Similarly the Woodwork for Autodesk Inventor is again an add-on that adds all the furniture design features and makes Inventor a powerful tool to aid furniture manufacturers in developing exclusive and complex designs quickly.
In a fast growing furniture market, manufacturers need to have the right CAD tools that can support in generating high quality, exclusive furniture designs quickly. While universal CAD systems do provide powerful drafting capabilities, it is difficult to generate furniture specific production information quickly. This however is not the case with specialized CAD tools developed specifically for furniture design development.
However, specialized tools are more often efficient in developing template based furniture and do not help much in exclusive, custom designs. To remain efficient and quickly develop designs for complex furniture products, furniture design specific add-ons for mechanical CAD systems can provide powerful capabilities to manufacturers and can enable them to generate production information automatically.
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