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Choosing the Right Components

Discuss about the Configuring a CAD Work station.

The use of CAD applications requires hardware that is able to support the software. Several CAD applications comes with a list of stringent requirements that the normal personal computer do not meet. As such it is important to build a CAD workstation for the company. Engineers work better when using a customized in-house workstation to do their duties. However, as much as it is essential to seek consultation on the software to develop or buy, advice on what hardware to acquire is also key. As such, building workable CAD workstations that meets all the industry requirements can be a difficult sometimes.

Selecting the appropriate components begins with understanding the requirements of the company. Every designer, engineer, and automotive professionals will be able to identify the type of software to choose depending on the daily tasks that they carry out. This forms the ideal beginning point. Identify the software that you use daily and identify their system requirements.

However, they only give baseline requirements, as such, you should anticipate for much higher requirements. It is also essential to do an evaluation if the software comes with a list of recommended components (Planet, 2018). Once you have reached a decision of the requirements to concentrate on, the next part is to select elements that fit the company objectives before starting to build the workstation.

This section will discuss the different elements that will make up the CAD workstation. It will describe what to pint out and provide recommendations of various prices.

The CPU (central processing unit) will be handling all the processes in the background to ensure the CAD software and all other processes of the computer to work, thus it should be able to cope up with strains. However, it can be a challenge to determine the exact requirements to point out in a processor. In the past, one major factor that was majorly considered was the clock speed, but the current generation of processors is complex. What you have to look for in such a processor is performance factor, that is, the number of instruction it can handle per cycle, the architecture, process size, and speed.

Number of cores is one issue that should be dealt with. You might be tempted to choose a multiprocessor which has been recommended by some guides to have a minimum of four cores for use in 3D modelling. It is essential to note if it is recommended for the CAD software. For instance, AutoCAD is majorly single-threaded software, and can only run in multicore architecture for particular functions (Tutorial45, 2018).  As such, it cannot optimally utilize the benefits of multi-core processor. Thus, going for multi cores mean that you have to dig deeper in to your pocket without attaining significant enhancement of process performance.

It is critical to make sure that the CPU you are going to acquire is supported by the motherboard and is compatible with all the components; Intel and AMD are not compatible. For instance, acquiring a high quality graphics card would not benefit you if your processor is not able to handle the extra abilities. Below are some recommendations for suitable processors for CAD workstations:

Range

Processor

Price ($)

Speed (GHz)

High-end

Intel Core i7-6900K

1019.00

3.70

Mid-range

Intel Core i7-7700K

329.00

4.20

Budget

Intel Core i3-6100 3M

114.99

3.70

Building the Workstation

Graphic intensive work like modelling automobile requires a professional graphics card. However, as much as most of the CPUs come with graphic unit which is complete, it is still recommended to have a separate graphics card. This enhances the rate of FPS, enabling for smooth transitions when panning, rotating, or zooming. This is of essence when using 3D CAD software such as SolidWorks.

Choosing workstation graphics card is also important over gaming card. The two types of cards have similar specifications but they are programmed to operate on different types of applications. Engineers require accuracy and precision and therefore, details are critical, as such, gaming cards are not recommended.

Customized workstation graphic cards have a higher computing power, faster performance and GPU acceleration technology. AMD FirePro and NVIDIA Quadro are perfect for the CAD software. The following are some of the recommended workstation graphic cards:

Range

Graphics Card

Price ($)

High-end

AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100

630.00

Mid-range

NVIDIA Quadro P2000

430.00

Budget

NVIDIA Quadro K1200

299.00


The primary memory for you workstation is what ensure data availability necessary for the CPU to run. First, know how much RAM you need to run the software. CAD software is fairly RAM intensive, for instance AutoCAD requires a minimum of 8GB RAM. However, if you can be able to acquire a higher figure or RAM size can enhance the performance of the workstation and enable you to run several programs at the same time.

It is also necessary to consider whether to choose Error Correcting Code (ECC RAM) or not. This RAM is able to recognize memory errors and correct them if they occur. CAD systems are heavily used and thus memory errors can occur, as such, ECC RAM can be beneficial to the automotive engineers and CAD professionals. The following are some recommendations of ECC RAM that you can acquire:

Range

RAM

Price ($)

Size (GB)

High-end

Kingston Technology

325.99

32

Mid-range

Kingstone HyperX FURY

105.00

16

Budget

Corsair Vengeance

65.00

8

Motherboard is a component that facilitates connectivity of different devices that compromises your workstation. As such, it is a very critical component of the system. Some crucial factors that should be considered when choosing a motherboard include:
  • SATA ports for connecting storage components
  • PCI slots for connecting peripheral components
  • Memory Slots for connecting RAM
  • Maximum Addressable Memory

The following are some recommendations of Motherboard that you can acquire:

Range

Motherboard

Price ($)

High-end

Asus Rampage Extreme

410.00

Mid-range

Asus ROG Strix Z370-I

174.00

Budget

Asus Prime B250M-K MATX

82.41

Selecting your operating system is easier that physical components. Several CAD applications have been developed to run on Microsoft windows. I recommend 64-bit windows 10 pro operating systems which has extra features that are useful like capability to defer updates and bit locker.

It is important to consider the ergonomic value of the components that you use directly like the mouse and keyboard when it comes to CAD workstation. CAD Mouse, which was developed by 3Dconnexion, was created specifically to aid the CAD professionals when using CAD applications.

The following are some recommendations of mouse that you can acquire:

Range

Mouse

Price ($)

High-end

3Dconnexion CadMouse

99.00

Mid-range

Razer DeathAdder Elite

59.99

Budget

Logitech M510 Wireless Large Mouse

18.99

The guides above do not exhaust all the available options and the requirements for the CAD workstation. There are other things that are supposed to be taken into account whn setting up the workstation, for instance, power supply unit, and cooling system  (Andy, 2017). Also, it is important to note that prices will change from time to time.

Summary of Requirements for CAD Workstation

OS

Microsoft windows 10 pro

Processor (CPU)

Minimum 3.70 GHz

RAM

Minimum 8GB

Display

Minimum 1600x1050 with True Color

Graphics Card

Should support 1600x1050 with True Color and DirectX 11 compliant

Storage

Minimum of 6GB for installation

Table 1: Summary of Requirements for CAD Workstation

Autodesk, Inc. is a vendor that has been in the CAD development for a very long time and the products they have delivered over time have had good reviews and have always met the business objectives. As such, I propose you go for Autodesk, Inc. to supply the Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing components.

Meet the business requirements. For the case of the company, it is dealing with the automotive and needs components with special features that can model and style the parts of automobiles and generate flat patterns automatically. The components will aid the industrial designers to meet their unique stylish designs where the automobile appearance really matter. Also, designers will find it simple to insert acquired parts and assemble the many vehicle parts.

Autodesk components are the most used in the automotive industry and thus it would not be challenging for the suppliers and customers when you share files with them because their systems will support them. It eliminates the burden of having to convert the files from one format to another. Furthermore, the components support international standards such as VDA, IGES, IDF, and STEP.

Unless physical products are delivered, money is not just generated from designs. Autodesk components will ensure that this objective is met, delivering physical products. Error-prone and manual tasks have been reduced greatly and also machining, testing, and estimation of costs have been enhanced by Autodesk. It also supports comprehensive testing to identify and prevent products that may fail in the field.

Autodesk has also ensured that their components supports full integration of company infrastructure for managing data. 3D systems’ relationships are very complex, thus Autodesk have tried to address this challenge by enhancing the components to organize and store such relationships to enable sanity among the engineering team and coordination of projects. Product data management ensures that designers do not overwrite each other’s work unknowingly.

I recommend you to purchase module products from LiveLinkTM like CAD import module and the Design module which can be used to imports files and enhance functionality respectively. CATIA V5 module is an additional add-on file for importing particular types of files. Also ECAD module is important to integrate geometry from the layout files of ECAD into a simulation. 

CAD and CAM Software List

References

Andy, A. (2017). How to Build the Ultimate CAD PC | CAD Tips | Scan2CAD. Scan2CAD. Retrieved 23 February 2018, from https://www.scan2cad.com/tips/how-to-build-the-ultimate-cad-pc/

Planet, C. (2018). Design Your Own CAD Workstation, Browse PC Workstations. Computer Planet. Retrieved 23 February 2018, from https://www.computerplanet.co.uk/custom-pc-by-type/custom-built-workstation-pc.html

Tutorial45, T. (2018). CAD workstation: Choosing a computer for CAD work. Tutorial45. Retrieved 23 February 2018, from https://tutorial45.com/cad-workstation-choosing-a-computer-for-cad-work/

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