I have recently been reading “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. The book examines “How constant innovation creates radically successful businesses” and focuses on what makes new businesses succeed or, more commonly of course, fail. You can find out more about Eric’s book and his principles for successful startups at www.leanstartup.com. One key criteria that Eric outlines for successful start-ups and inventors is the ability to rapidly execute “Build-Measure-Learn” cycles for their innovations, quickly turningideas into products, measuring how customers respond, and then knowing when to change something (or “pivot” as Eric describes it) and when to persevere with a new idea.
Professional 3D CAD software that is easy to use and easy to access for start-up manufacturing organizations can have a big impact here. Firstly by enabling fast and accurate design cycles that can be iterated on to produce excellent product designs both for individual components and for assemblies. Also by by including integrated tools for validating the design, for example with built-in stress analysis capabilities, weight optimization and kinematics. And finally by providing easy integration with manufacturing processes such as 3D printers so that new components can be quickly manufactured for testing purposes. Professional CAD software can be expensive to purchase and several inventors that we have spoken to have indicated that because of this they turned to alternatives such as low end CAD systems or external design services, and that this did not work well for them.
Two inventors who have taken advantage of monthly subscriptions for Solid Edge to get access to professional CAD software while avoiding the need for significant capital expenditure are David Hutton from Hutton Technologies in the UK, and Steve Triplett from Trinity Frame and Fabrication in the USA. You can find out more about their experiences in the videos below.
David Hutton already had experience with using Solid Edge when he was a student at the University of Bath. At this leading UK University all first year mechanical engineering students use Solid Edge for their design-and-make projects. So when it came to looking for CAD software to develop the Flexipump, a simple but powerful hand pump designed for use by farmers in developing countries, it was natural for him to look at Solid Edge. As a start-up, David’s capital resources were low and purchasing a perpetual licenses would have been difficult for him. Fortunately Solid Edge introduced the monthly subscriptions program at this time and David was able to go ahead and use Solid Edge refine his design ready for mass production.
Steve Triplett at Trinity Frame & Fab was expanding his motorcycle customization business with his first major design project, a motorcycle that can be used by a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Steve looked at several CAD solutions but found that they were either too expensive or did not include the more advanced capabilities that he needed to simulate and validate his new design. Purchasing a monthly subscription for Solid Edge gave Steve the power he needed while giving him the flexibility to suspend his monthly payments for the periods between his major design projects.
You can also read a new whitepaper from industry analyst Monica Schnitger that discusses monthly subscriptions for CAD software and how they let manufacturers “ramp up at a moment’s notice, smooth cash flow and deal with the peaks and valleys of business”. In next week’s blog I will switch my focus from smaller to larger manufacturing organizations and look at the benefits that these organizations are getting from flexible access to CAD software.