The challenges facing small precision parts manufacturers in today’s competitive environment are extreme. Customers are demanding ever-shorter lead times while expecting very high-quality precision parts at an aggressive price point — but they all use a different CAD system. For a small company to be able to accommodate each of its customers, maintaining licenses with all those different CAD systems would create an impossible situation.
Aero-safe Technologies Inc., a supplier of precision parts and assemblies to the aerospace, satellite communications, life support, surveillance, defense, optical, and medical industries since 1981, was facing just this situation when they began a search for a CAD system that help them handle the increasingly diverse and challenging demands of their customers.
As Rick Dorrington, CAD/CAM Manager at Aero-safe Technologies Inc., put it:
“When Aero-safe set out to find a new CAD tool we had some very distinct and seemingly antagonistic requirements. It had to be compatible with as many CAD systems as possible while having good modeling capabilities as well as being easy to learn and use.
“We also had to consider the integration of the CAD system with a new CAM system. Our customers have embraced the solid modeling design approach in a big way. This wave of design data eventually makes its way to the manufacturer, who is expected to use the data as presented. The traditional design-drawing-manufacture process is rapidly being replaced by the design straight-to-manufacture process.
“After an exhaustive search, one CAD system stood high above the rest: IronCAD. It was quite astounding how IronCAD fit in so perfectly with all the needs that we had identified. To our surprise and delight, IronCAD has the capability of working in either the ACIS or Parasolid kernel — or both at the same time. This feature, combined with the extensive list of import/export formats, which IronCAD supports, is truly amazing.
“Since implementing IronCAD, we have found the flow of engineering data between ourselves and our customers to be nearly seamless. We no longer waste time massaging data so that we can manufacture a component. Our customers have a high level of confidence that we are manufacturing precision parts to the as-designed specification.
“IronCAD also allows us to participate with our customers earlier on in the design process by suggesting ways that part models can be modified to allow for improved manufacturing methods.
“At Aero-safe, we have found a niche manufacturing the difficult and nearly-impossible-to-make precision parts. More often than not, this leads to some very innovative fixturing and machining methods.
“With IronCAD, we can quickly start to build fixtures around the part models being supplied from our customers. Often times this is being started while the job is still in the quotation stages.
“Manufacturing challenges are easily identified and addressed early on in the process, which allows us to spend more effort improving that process rather than trying to recover from a costly oversight.
“The short time required to get excellent quality engineering drawings into the manufacturing cycle is incredible. We have found that after just a short time with the software even new CAD users can contribute in a productive manner. The freeform methods of modeling allow the non-technical people involved with the workflow to see the conceptual ideas and contribute their own ideas without being intimidated by the traditional constraints of high-end CAD software.
“Of course, the real power lurks just below the surface. The more experienced and advanced users have the ability to add a high degree of intelligence to models and assemblies very easily, even after the assemblies are put together.
“Support is often an underlying issue that tends to receive less attention during the procurement of new software. We would be amiss if we didn’t mention the excellent support that IronCAD provides. They are, without any doubt, the best software company we have ever worked with in the 20 years that Aero-safe has been in business.
“We consider our investment in IronCAD, the company, and their product, to have been a wise one. We are looking forward to many years of beneficial partnership with IronCAD and are certain that anyone considering the purchase of this product would not be disappointed.”