Leverage Windows Explorer to access and manage CAD data with CCE’s Free Explore 3D (No CAD License Needed!)

September 7, 2017 Vinay Wagle

CAD/CAM/CAE are now core to design and sustain any manufactured product. Their adoption has grown rapidly as they have become cheaper and easier to use. Significant growth has come from small and mid-size businesses that usually don’t have a lot of capital to invest in expensive technology and training.

As more and more engineers and designers use these tools, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of data created. Since products are made from multiple parts and assemblies, significant amount of this engineering data is linked. Change to one part can impact the entire product design and so it is important this data is properly managed.

Large companies with big budgets and staff have solved the problem of managing large data sets by using PLM systems. However adopting PLM systems is expensive due to recurring software costs, the effort needed to get all the information organized to implement the processes, and employee training. Most small companies do not have this luxury. The tool most commonly used by small companies to manage engineering data is still the trusty and free Windows Explorer.

Companies have come up with informal protocols to manage the data and make sure multiple people don’t work on the same data at the same time. For small groups this works well as communication is easy due to the proximity of the team in the same geographical location. However, when dealing with CAD files it is cumbersome to load the 3D file in the CAD system just to see what is in it. Additionally, sometimes engineers need to know product configuration information that is buried in the CAD file, and they tie up expensive CAD resources to access this info.

Besides, non-engineering folks like purchasing, who need access to information like the material used in the part to order it, need drawings to obtain this information. This increases the work of the engineering department who now have to create drawings just for this purpose.

Explore 3D solves all these problems by providing access to the 3D data as well as the product configuration and material properties embedded in the CAD file, directly through Windows Explorer. You do not need a license of any CAD system to read the CAD file. All major systems including CATIA V5, CATIA V6 (3DXML), SOLIDWORKS, NX, Creo, Inventor, Solid Edge and JT are supported.

The product can be downloaded and used for free from here.

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