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SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network Partner

SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network Partner... 


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Manufacturing Network

SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network puts you in touch with SOLIDWORKS-enabled vendors.

Locating design and engineering service providers that help manufacturers to accelerate the design process has become increasingly important. Whether the services involve contracted design work, tooling creation, machined parts, or plastic-injection molds, manufacturers want to work with vendors that provide high-quality services and save them time and money.
That's why SOLIDWORKS Corp. has created the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network, an online directory of design and engineering service providers who use SOLIDWORKS software. The network, which is accessible from the SOLIDWORKS website (www.SOLIDWORKS.com/swmn/), enables product development organizations to search for SOLIDWORKS-enabled vendors and service providers by name, location, and service category.

"Getting products to market faster defines success in today's manufacturing environment," said Robert McGill, director of the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network. "Everyone is looking for a competitive edge. Manufacturing Network is an excellent resource for helping manufacturers find reliable vendors who use SOLIDWORKS software, which eliminates the time-consuming and error-prone process of converting or recreating design files. By working with SOLIDWORKS-enabled suppliers, manufacturers can significantly shorten the design cycle and eliminate the potential for errors that file duplication and conversion creates."
McGill says the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network currently includes several hundred service providers, giving SOLIDWORKS users access to contact information for SOLIDWORKS-enabled machine shops, mold houses, tooling manufacturers, rapid prototypers, design contractors and other service providers.

Advantages for Manufacturers

Avoiding surprises and keeping the design cycle on schedule are the primary benefits of working with SOLIDWORKS-enabled suppliers, Kevin Bourque said. He is an R&D engineer with Thoratec Corp., a leading developer and manufacturer of medical devices for circulatory support and vascular graft applications.
"I have found great convenience in having parts and tools made directly from SOLIDWORKS files," Bourque said. "Before we implemented SOLIDWORKS, we used 2D tools and often encountered surprises when we cast parts that we designed in 2D. That never happens now that we have parts machined directly from SOLIDWORKS files. And when we need to make changes, such as adding a boss or draft, there are no problems. We are using SOLIDWORKS. Our vendors are using SOLIDWORKS. It makes the process faster and more accurate for everyone involved."

The improved accuracy of having a common SOLIDWORKS data foundation is critical to the success of manufacturers that produce systems with very little margin for error, such as Analytica, a Connecticut-based developer of mass spectrometry systems that are used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries for analyzing the molecular weights of compounds.
"From our standpoint, time-to-market is very critical," explained Michael Sansone, manager of Design Engineering at Analytica. "The market for analytical instruments is extremely competitive, and we constantly look for time savings anywhere we can find them."
Sansone noted that Analytica develops extremely sophisticated instruments and designs parts with very tight tolerances, often at the micron level. "Sending our parts to a vendor with SOLIDWORKS not only saves us a ton of drawing time but also ensures that our parts are good. Quite frankly, using a vendor that asks for an IGES or a STEP file or has to convert or translate our files is a nuisance. We are looking for a competitive time advantage and for someone we can rely on to produce good parts. Working with a vendor that uses SOLIDWORKS helps us to achieve those goals."

He adds that working with service providers who use SOLIDWORKS clearly defines Analytica's needs and the vendor's capabilities. "It's a lot easier for someone who has the model to take a cross-section of an assembly and determine what needs to be done. Using SOLIDWORKS files removes any ambiguities from the process," Sansone said. "The more the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network grows, the easier it will become to find vendors with the discipline and proficiency required to perform the tasks we need."

Vendor benefits

The most obvious vendor benefit of the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network is the exposure the directory provides to the SOLIDWORKS user community, enabling vendors to use the network to connect with potential customers. But there are additional benefits, including:

  • Improved clarity for quoting jobs
  • Lower probability for misinterpretation or confusion
  • Less set-up work related to file conversions and/or model cleanup
  • Greater flexibility for modifying models when necessary
  • Greater likelihood of achieving consistent customer satisfaction.

"We've come to prefer customers who use SOLIDWORKS," said Joe Osborn, owner of OMW Metalcrafts, a California-based custom machine shop. "With SOLIDWORKS, we do not have issues related to file types, translations or conversions. Out of all the file formats we receive, the format we prefer is SOLIDWORKS because it is less prone to error and makes our business easier and more efficient. Because SOLIDWORKS files are the most efficient way to get tooling, we've enjoyed the highest level of customer satisfaction with customers who use SOLIDWORKS." Brad Cleveland, president of The Protomold Company, Inc., a Minnesota-based leader in producing plastic injection-molded parts, said the SOLIDWORKS Manufacturing Network will help his company consistently fulfill its mission of producing injection-molded parts quickly and cost-effectively. "Designers who use SOLIDWORKS are more forward-thinking, advanced, innovative and conscious of the benefits of rapid time-to-market," Cleveland notes. "Manufacturers that use SOLIDWORKS make excellent Protomold customers." Kevin Crystal, Protomold's quality engineer, said, "SOLIDWORKS files are easier to work with and eliminate any ambiguities or misinterpretations that occur with 2D drawings or 'dumb' geometry. And if we need to tweak the model, we can easily make changes because we have the SOLIDWORKS software ourselves." "We're committed to 3D models and don't even quote work based on 2D drawings." Cleveland added. "Our best customers are those who use SOLIDWORKS to create those 3D models in the first place."

(To share your comments about this story, please send an email to editorial@solidmag.com.)

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