When you decide to outsource your CAD work, you’ll have to do some homework. The first step is to find a high-quality CAD design service that can handle your project and deliver exceptional results. How do you get started?
This guide will answer your questions. We’ll cover 9 tips to pick the best CAD design service, and we’ll include plenty of actionable advice to get you started.
What Is a CAD Design Service?
A CAD design service is a third-party company that handles your engineering and drafting work. It ranges from 2D drawings to full 3D models of equipment or plant layouts. You would work with a CAD design service to save you time and money, and to avoid engineering efforts on your end.
Even if you have in-house engineers, you can still benefit from CAD design services. They can work concurrently with your engineers or handle the more annoying ancillary parts while your engineers handle the IP-heavy designs.
These services usually quote each project individually, but you can also put together a monthly contract that employs them long-term as an outside vendor of engineering drawings.
9 Tips to Pick the Best CAD Design Service
When it comes to picking the best CAD design service, it all revolves around your needs. The following points are things that you should consider, but they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers.
Start with a Handful of Options
We always suggest starting with at least three different options. You don’t have to choose any of them right now, but doing this will help you understand what you’re looking for and pick the best option.
You can find these CAD design companies through Google searches, word of mouth, or start with CAD/CAM Services designers and engineers. The bottom line is that you need a few options to start with before choosing the final option.
If you only ever consider one CAD design service, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Screen Each Design Service and Request Quotes
Now, you should go through a screening step for all of these potential options. If you can start with a phone call or email exchange, that would be ideal. You want to understand more about the company, what they focus on, and why they think they would be a good fit for your project.
You should also get quotes from all of the companies. Even if you know you won’t choose the company, a quote doesn’t take them much effort and it gives you valuable information.
From these three quotes, you now know a lot of things: what different companies charge for your project, how long they think it will take, and added insight into the CAD project.
Focus on the Pricing
The pricing will tell you a lot about the CAD design service. We have a lot of competitors that charge way too much for their service, and they aren’t worth it.
Companies that undercharge might be hiding something. Maybe they have quality or reliability issues, and they want to entice you with a low quote. Try to ignore any quotes that are way too high or too low. The companies in the middle will be the best CAD design service for you.
Ensure They Can Meet Your Timeline
The timeline is a big requirement when it comes to a CAD project. There’s a good chance that you don’t have any wiggle room — you need all of the parts designed and delivered by a certain date. If an outsourced CAD team can’t hit that date, then you shouldn’t choose them.
During the initial screening, ask them how they feel about the timeline. If they’re way too fast to agree, it might be a shady business. If they say it’s not possible, but they don’t offer an alternative, then you can’t work with them either.
An aggressive timeline can always be met with enough engineers on the project. This means more money, but projects like these always involve compromises.
Check for Available Manpower
Speaking of additional engineers, you should learn how many engineers the company has on their staff. A good CAD design service will have plenty of engineers that they can assign to your project.
With more engineers, you’ll get drawings sooner and there will be more opportunities for quality checking before you get anything.
Some companies also offer 24/7 engineering. This means that someone can work on your project around the clock, and you’ll get drawings three times faster.
Pre-Screen the Quality of the Work
A lot of CAD service companies have some sort of gallery on their site that shows previous work. You should take some time to explore these pages and understand what quality of work each company offers.
The quality matters a lot. It has to do with an attention to detail and wanting to give you the best results. If their engineers aren’t up to the challenge, then your project will suffer. High-quality CAD work comes from high-quality engineers and draftsmen.
If a company doesn’t have an online gallery, it doesn’t mean that you should immediately ignore them. You’ll just need to ask them to send over samples of previous projects.
Look for Experience and Knowledge
In the world of CAD, two things matter above everything else: experience, and knowledge. A knowledgeable team of engineers will know which designs will work, the easiest way to solve your problem, and how to design a part for manufacturing.
An experienced team will do all of these steps even quicker and avoid common pitfalls throughout the process.
With that being said, you should look for a CAD design service that has a rich history and plenty of experience on its staff. If they’ve been in business for a few decades, then they likely have guys on their team that will do a great job.
Choose Services that Can Use Different CAD Programs
There are a lot of CAD programs on the market to choose from. If the CAD design team uses the same CAD program that your in-house engineers use, then everything will be easier. You can quickly implement the parts they make, and you can avoid massive headaches.
It’s a great idea to look for a CAD design service that can work with multiple programs with ease. If your master model uses SolidWorks and the CAD design team will only use Inventor, then you can run into issues. Getting a STEP file is a fine compromise, but you lose a lot of functionality with the part.
You can’t go back and adjust a STEP file. You would need to keep paying the CAD design company to use their original model and make the changes before sending them back. This wastes a ton of time and money.
Instead, use a CAD service that can deliver CAD files in the same program that you’re using. You can open the file, change it, and throw it into your master model with a full constraint set.
Stick with Reliable and Trustworthy Companies
Trust goes a long way in the CAD design business. A lot of offshore and smaller companies are looking to exploit you. They’ll sell you everything, demand payment upfront, then ignore your emails and run away with your money.
It’s easy to get tricked if you trust the wrong company.
Instead, look for companies that have a good history of reliability and trustworthiness. One way you can determine this is to look through testimonials and case studies. If they have real examples with real people, then there’s a better chance that the company is above-board.
Another way to find out how trustworthy a company is, is to call them. Talk with a manager or owner to get a feel for their business practice. Ask them specifics about your project and their history.
After the call, you should trust your gut. If it felt like something was wrong, there’s a chance that you shouldn’t trust that company.
Picking the right CAD design service for your project will get you the best results. A good partner will optimize your drawings and expedite the delivery.
If you want to choose the best CAD design service around, consider CAD/CAM Services. We’ve been in business for decades, and we’ve created millions of drawings for customers over the years. Reach out and talk to our 24/7 engineering staff to learn more. Feel free to get a free quote to get started.
This article was last Updated on September 6, 2023