A new system pioneered at Aston Business School is set to save businesses time and money by avoiding the design and production of unnecessary components. The online research system called CADFind has been described as "the graphical Google for engineers" and enables electronic searches to be made for drawings rather than by the words that describe them.
Dr Doug Love, who leads the ongoing research and development of CADFind, says: "The system allows engineers to electronically search for drawings of products or components that already exist within their files or workshop. We have developed this system because engineers continually redesign the same or very similar components because there is no way of knowing what their predecessors or colleagues have produced in the past.
"Words cannot accurately describe complex components, and the traditional way of doing a search is manually, visually or anecdotally by asking colleagues if they remember anything 'like this' from the past. CADFind allows them to find exactly what has gone before to determine if they can use it, or if they do genuinely have to redesign."
Users can search a part repository in CADFind using one of three different formats: 2D drawing, 3D model or text search. The system will then find similar parts and enable the user to view and load back into the CAD system for re-use.
Dr Love adds: "A company's wealth of past designs can be checked as a normal part of the way that the engineer creates or modifies parts. Even for casual or occasional users, CADFind requires very little training and is very quick. Consequently it could easily become an everyday part of a design engineer's routine."