LA Design has been in business for a very long time. As one of oldest consultancies in the UK we’ve seen an enormous number of changes. We started out initially as what I would describe as a very traditional industrial design consultancy… magic markers and sketches. But over the years we’ve merged activities into a much more engineering bias. But we’re still industrial designers, we still look at things from the user’s point of view rather than a technology point of view. So what we need are tools which help us visualise what things will look like and help to communicate that to stake holders, customers and clients.
We chose SolidWorks because customers asked for it. There is no point providing a tool if the customers won’t use it so the native file format was the catalyst really. It’s the fact there’s a common file format that has increased efficiency and it is an efficiency that we gain from really as much as the client. They gain in terms of speed, but it was where we had inefficiencies before visiting one package then another, then having to translate and deal with mismatches. We don’t have that problem now.
We initially used Pro Engineer, but as SolidWorks has improved and has grown in it capability we started out with one license and we now have five. It now our predominant tool for working in CAD. The nice thing about using SolidWorks is that so many people here can use it. We have a model maker, a young guy straight out of college. He has model making skills but has moved very easily to using SolidWorks for breaking up a model perhaps making it on the CNC machine. At the other end we have Andy doing FEA work, kinematics and very detailed complex assemblies.
So I’m the model maker here at LA. I use SolidWorks from the point of taking the parts in the assembly, finding certain parts to make or export out as STL files to turn to 3D data, to machine or 3D print. So I’ve picked it up fairly quickly.
The best thing about SolidWorks for me is the way it works I think. So I don’t need to sit down and plan how I’m going to make a model fit the design. I can sit down, think about the design and create the model as I go.
As well as SolidWorks itself, we do have the Simulation side as well as Sustainability and Composer.
Increasingly we have started making more parts that have plastic springs. So trying to calculate how much force and deflection you are getting can be quite tricky when you’re making an injection moulding with a spring as an integral part of the moulding. Simulation has been really great here, being able to displace the model by a certain amount and then figure out what the force is to get that displacement. It has made the reverse engineering side and optimising the parts really brilliant.
Composer has been very useful for odd things like patent drawings as well as instruction manuals for customers and for doing quick visuals. Quite a versatile tool.
The GE project is a ship’s bridge. It’s made up of a large number of different bespoke bits of furniture but they’re all fairly modular so using SolidWorks we were able to create a range of parts from a single set of information and then configure them. We have been able to turn those into sheet metal parts very quickly and turn them into prototypes.
It’s more versatile than anything else really; you have tools in SolidWorks for complex surfacing now. You have tools like BunkSpeed (SolidWorks Visualize) in the new release for photorealistic rendering at very high speed as well. When it works in real time you can start to use it as a presentation tool.
Cadtek have always been very easy to get hold of. A phone call I’ll generally get straight through and talk to someone about a problem, if they can’t handle it right then it will be a very quick response when I can send information to them and within the same day I will get a reply back on how to fix a particular problem. So it’s been really helpful.
Cadtek have been really very nice to work with, very approachable, always answer the phone quickly and always respond quickly. They’ve called in to see us a number of times and keep in contact, you can’t ask any more than that.
SolidWorks has come on leaps and bounds, so it really is the Swiss army knife of CAD tools. I would say that you can’t manage without SolidWorks for a lot of our customers.
LA is one of the UK’s most respected and successful industrial design and product development consultancies having won ten DBA Design Effectiveness Awards. See how LA use SolidWorks to continuously develop brand led solutions that connect technology and business with people, a winning combination.