How 3D CAD for furniture design will change the way you work

How 3D CAD for furniture design and manufacturing will change the way you work –  short story of business growth and success.

3D CAD design – what’s this?

Designing in the furniture industry

In the beginning there was… a pencil. It is still at the heart of many companies, but those who want to grow their business need to make friends with design software. Specifically – software written with the specifics of a chosen industry in mind. Let’s start with a quick answer to the question: what is CAD design anyway? “Computer Aided Design – the ability to create a virtual 2D or 3D model in a computer program allows you to design faster and easier, making changes instantly without wasting time (and materials) building imperfect prototypes. Such a software allows you to produce technical documentation and carry out all the analysis and calculations before the first unit is produced.

The 1960s brought significant changes to 2D design. The switch to computer software resulted in less time-consuming designs, and the aerospace and automotive industries were most interested in the change. The first softwares were developed and contributed to the explosive growth of many industries, but these were still only ‘flat’ 2D designs, with no way of seeing what the finished product would actually look like.

Fast forward to the 1970s and the advent of 3D design. The ability to create three-dimensional designs on a computer screen revolutionised the work of many designers, but it took a little longer for 3D modelling to become widely used in the furniture industry.

2D or 3D – which is better for furniture design?

Faster, cheaper and more convenient – these are the three main benefits of using 3D software for product design, whatever the industry. Undeniably, foreign countries are leading the way in the widespread use of 3D CAD in furniture design and production. Poland is catching up and is becoming increasingly bold in its use of specialised software, especially as the demand for Polish furniture has remained very high for many years.

3D modelling is more accurate, much more efficient and incomparably more comfortable to work with. Just think how much time we save by being able to change the model in an instant without having to pull out another sheet of paper. Add to this the possibility of automatic generation of technical documentation and collaboration with furniture production machines.

The three-dimensional model is also an excellent basis for creating photo-realistic visualisations to help customers make purchasing decisions. One might even be tempted to say that such a realistic representation has largely replaced photographs of furniture in today’s market.

It is also worth mentioning that the ability to efficiently identify and correct design errors more quickly not only saves tens (hundreds?) of hours of work, but also the cost of prototyping.

Production also benefits from 3D CAD modelling

Furniture manufacturers often focus their attention on the final stage of furniture production, neglecting the design itself. Wrongly so. Software that combines the advantages of CAD and CAM eliminates human errors (in design, technical documentation, bills of materials, cost estimates, etc.) and thus reduces material losses in the production phase. And it always – without exception – recovers the time spent on the drawing board.

Do you run a small woodworking shop and the idea of reducing working time is strange to you? You may not have the need to multiply your production, but… this time can also be managed outside of work. If you can achieve the same result in 4 hours instead of 8, the advantages are obvious. It is better to drop everything and go for a nice, long weekend in the mountains than to regret that you did not catch a mistake in the design and the wood went to waste.

What to consider when choosing 3D CAD for furniture

Who makes the software

Yes, we are now going to advertise ourselves – but not unreasonably. Who the manufacturer is is important. Talking to a distributor of a foreign product, who is totally dependent on a multinational company, will always give you fewer options than direct contact with the software developer.

The advantages? Fast feedback, technical support, and – something we are very proud of – the opportunity to help shape the software you end up with. With full authority to make changes to our products, we can write an additional feature for the customer or improve an existing one – without having to wait for the annual software update deadline.

And most importantly, we have been working in CAD, CAM, ERP, PDM for 20 years, so we have both extensive theoretical knowledge and practical experience in many areas of industry.

Does the software support the production phase?

I mentioned this a little earlier – it is important that the software supports not only design but also production. A unified CAD/CAM environment eliminates the risk of human error or mistakes when transfering/rewriting data to other softwares.

A specialised 3D CAD for furniture design and manufacture, it allows you to design a 3D model of a piece of furniture, automatically generate 2D documentation, bills of materials, reports and cost estimates, and start production on CNC machines. This is the most desirable, efficient and convenient option.

Integration with ERP systems

Integration with ERP, the thing that (almost) all companies dread. When investing in software, make sure that the company implementing the solution offers you seamless integration. Look for a 3D CAD  that has been developed with Industry 4.0 in mind and is a great complement to it.

What makes WOODEXPERT CAD 3D better?

We already know that it’s better to have a CAD than a pencil, even better a 3D, and if it also supports CAM processes, then we have everything we need. And WOODEXPERT is just such a tool. In addition to the dozens of functionalities written specifically for furniture manufacturers, which you can learn more about on our YouTube channel, here are 5 to keep in mind.

Data sharing

Teamwork number one – data sharing. If you are about to transfer data to a memory stick or in any other way, consider a change. In the case of WOODEXPERT, the SQL database plays a major role. It’s what allows you to work on a project with your colleagues around the clock, without the hassle and wasted time of browsing through materials or making sure the furniture model is up to date. And contrary to what you might think, this is not a common solution in the furniture design software market.

Advanced material management

Our pride and joy – we really have done a lot in this area. If you want to find out if the process of naming support and finishing materials can be reduced by 99% and how to speed up the creation of multiple versions of a given product, I invite you to watch the recording of the webinar: “Designing furniture in 3D CAD – is it worth it?

Eliminating design errors

The last thing we need is a design error in a piece of furniture, especially if it is undetected at the production stage. Rather than risk wasting material, invest in a software with technological collision detection and validation of materials and geometry. In addition, working in WOODEXPERT ensures a consistent, unified CAD/CAM environment that eliminates errors associated with transferring data between different programmes.

Complete production data

An important part of any company’s furniture manufacturing process, some of the 3D CADs on the market contain incomplete production data. This causes problems when creating production documentation and reports. In WOODEXPERT you have access to all the information necessary for the correct course of the furniture production process.

The CAM module is based on a technological database that allows standard strategies and tools to be set up for each machine in the furniture factory. All programmes are generated automatically, with the possibility of adjusting parameters and paths. Users can check the generated programmes for collisions and perform 3D machining simulations.

Integration with SOLIDWORKS

Thanks to the integration with SOLIDWORKS, any WOODEXPERT user can expand the scope of his business or completely change his profile at any time. The SOLIDWORKS environment is the number 1 3D CAD environment on the market and allows you to design almost any type of product. Openness, versatility and flexibility are more important than ever in today’s world. Intelligent control of the entire production chain increases the productivity of any company.

Free online meeting and demo

I would not be myself if I did not conclude with an invitation to action. There are two ways you can do this. The first is to arrange an online meeting with a representative from our company who will present the WOODEXPERT furniture design and manufacturing software and answer all your questions, including how to adapt CAD to the specifics of your business. The second is to download a demo version directly from our website and install it yourself. I highly recommend option 1 – it will allow you to learn the best ways of working in the software before you even start. Faster, easier and more fun. Enjoy!

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