Advancements in computer-aided drawings have come a long way in recent years and have increasingly rendered hand-drawn design obsolete. Being able to create 3D visualisations of a product before manufacture allows the designer to analyse every aspect and component of the design. This offers both an accurate and holistic view of the product/design and helps identify its relationship to its surroundings.

CAD-design-at-work

As drawings go digital, this overview and increased accuracy have helped reduce potential errors, saving companies both time and money.

For much larger commercial joinery, investing in software and an experienced design team has become a necessity. This can raise the company’s profile and credibility, as well as increase their chances of winning larger jobs.

With so many new software options with varying functionality on the market, choosing the right software might seem daunting. To help create more clarity around the matter, we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular software options and reviewed some of their pros and cons.

Is an advanced engineering software allows teams to quickly create 3D product visualisations ready for manufacture. It offers a powerful toolset that can support multiple design and manufacturing tools by implementing one seamlessly integrated solution. As well as having an estimation feature that can monitor project cost, helping you keep within budget.

For those operating in the construction industry, another benefit is that it can export IFC files. This makes it compliant with new Building Information Modelling (BIM) regulations, making it a sound investment for the joinery.  

It does however, come with a hefty price tag that could far exceed the budgets of small or specialist sub-contractors. Justifying the cost could be tricky; however, help is at hand, as recently discussed in our BIM for sub-contractors article.

Another challenge you could be faced with is that this software requires a lot of learning. If you don’t have a designer that’s familiar with the product, you could find yourself shelling out more for training.

Overall, cost and learning curve aside, this heavyweight program has a seemingly endless scope for possibility and is suitable for any industry or trade.  

Falkus Joinery SolidWorks 3D animation of the Cannock Mill staircase, produced by the in house design team.

Developed by Autodesk, this easy to use, computer-aided software drafting program has an intuitive interface. This allows the user to type search for commands, enabling them to seamlessly create 2D or 3D designs.

Despise being user-friendly, this product requires each element of the design to be drawn and placed specifically. A lack of automation means that any changes that impact the whole drawing, could make editing a timely affair.

With the software’s regular updates, the user can expect to see continued improvements. Although this is certainly a positive, it can lead to the odd bug and glitch here and there.     

Overall this product is a popular tool that can be used across industries and is compliant with industry standards. There are slight limitations with its compatibility with other software, but for small to medium projects it proves to be a heavy hitter.

This free and easy-to-use program is an extremely popular tool for students, hobbyist, and freelancers looking to keep costs down. It’s a simple lightweight tool that allows the user to quickly create 3D renders of products.

Although it doesn’t come with all the fancy bells and whistles, it packs a punch and has a huge community and an endless stream of online resources.

We won’t go into too much detail on this, as its accessibility makes it easy to test it out yourself. Overall it’s a great product for simple quick jobs, and an ideal choice if you’re just starting out.

Dubbed as the all-rounder, and much like AutoCAD, has the functionality to type your command, making it user-friendly. Rhino cleverly offers students a free subscription, making it a prime contender in the market after graduation.

This lightweight program comes fully stocked with a wide range of plugins and can be used for automation. It also offers great programming and scripting features and comes with the support of a large community and free online tutorials.

Overall there are a lot of benefits, however, much like AutoCAD there are a handful of issues that can arise. This is mainly to do with editing and placing items one-by-one, making it a slow process for making changes. Another issue is that the software is only updated every 3-5 years, meaning that you could be missing out on the latest developments.

The learning curve for Rhino is moderate and sits in between SketchUp, being easier and SolidWorks, which is more advanced. Like all programs each product has its individual quirks that will be best suited to varying people and practices.

Summary

We hope this helped shed some light on some of the major players in the computer-aided drawings space. Overall we believe that with all features and cost considered, personal preference will have its part to play.

If you have the time we recommend that you take advantage of as many free trials as you can, to offer you a comparison between products. These products are hefty investments and could prove to be a key factor in the growth of your business, so research is vital.
If you have any joinery or design related questions and would like to speak to a member of our design team, just get in touch.