CAD modelling vs concept development skills

Design engineers often obsess over software tools but the real value adding skill is concept development. A short explainer on why .

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) skills and concept development skills are both crucial in fields Of engineering and product design . They are not the same , there is a difference For design engineers working in product development, the skill of concept development provides exponential value as compared to CAD skills.

CAD modelling skills have multiple subsets of skills which need to be developed.

  • Technical proficiency : Getting familiar with the commands in software like Auto CAD, solid works, CATIA , Fusion 360 . Understanding the tools to create various 2D and 3D geometry
  • Being Precision and Detail oriented : Taking care of smallest details and features when modelling parts
  • Visualization : Able to visualize 3D shapes and 2D forms . Translate 3D to 2D or vice versa

Concept development skills on the other hand are much broad based . Its not the same as being able to "do CAD" . While many can design very complex geometries , coming up with the "why? " and "what" is alot more value-adding.

One of the first important steps is Framing the problem. Problem well understood is half solved.

  • Creativity and Innovation: Concept development is heavily reliant on creativity and the ability to generate innovative ideas. It involves thinking outside the box to come up with unique solutions or products.
  • Understanding User Needs: This skill set includes the ability to understand and interpret user needs and market trends. It’s about aligning design concepts with practicality and user preferences.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Effective concept development often requires teamwork and communication, as it involves exchanging ideas and feedback with team members, clients, or stakeholders.
  • Big Picture Thinking: Unlike the detail-oriented nature of CAD, concept development requires a broader view, focusing on the overall design, functionality, and impact of the product or structure.
  • Concept development is iterative.
  • Concept development is not tool driven but driven by fundamentals and ideas . Strong concepts are built from strong basics.

Concept development example in Car Design:

Imagine a design engineering team conceptualizing a new electric sports car. They would discuss the car's target audience, desired performance characteristics, mechanical systems and architecture , and innovative features which would be included in the package. Also develop schemes on how to design these mechanisms, structures within the larger context of car design

CAD modelling example in Car Design:

For the electric sports car, CAD professionals would create detailed models of the car's body, the layout of the electric powertrain, the placement of batteries, the design of the suspension system, and the interior ergonomics. They would ensure that the CAD models are fully detailed with all required features and details as required from design intent .

Categories: Skills and knowledge