By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
If you are a small manufacturer that has either reconfigured its assembly line or will be doing so soon because of factory automation demands, chances are the design work with be performed using one of several software solutions provided by an Atlanta-based company.
“Think about a big assembly line with thousands of pieces of equipment,” Tao-Yang Han, President of IronCAD, explained to us during a recent visit to his offices. “You need some different equipment. How do you quickly redesign your manufacturing line?”
He drew a comparison to individual Legos which, in spite of variations in the design and purpose of individual pieces produced over the years, remain compatible in some way with existing pieces. In essence, they are interchangeable and have to connect with other pieces.
That’s a metaphor for both the service that Han’s company provides and the manner in which IronCAD approaches its work, starting with its smart configurator that is embedded in several of its software options under the IRONCAD brand. The individual components can be used in a standalone fashion, be complementary within an existing design environment, or can be used together to collaborate effectively throughout the enterprise to extend productivity.
The options include:
- IRONCAD, the core awarding-winning software that integrates 3D and 2D design that enables designers to use its patented TriBall™ visualization tool to easily reposition components, resize objects by stretching them with handles, and drag and drop predefined shapes into the design scene for a better, faster design process.
- IRONCAD INOVATE which is 3D CAD (computer-aided design) software that allows collaboration with multiple designers working on the same project;
- IRONCAD DRAFT which allows designers to analyze, leverage, render, and reference 3D model data created by customers and colleagues while still working in a 2D CAD environment with a familiar user interface and common tools for detailing; and
- IRONCAD COMPOSE which is free iPad, laptop, and desktop PC CAD collaboration software that allows sales and engineering teams to view, interrogate, and comment on designs and engineering data generated from any major 3D CAD system.
“With our software, you can drag and drop the new design in 30 minutes rather than the 10 hours it takes with more traditional approaches,” Han says, but that is not all that IronCAD can do to help with the modification process. An important consideration is the increasing movement to factory automation powered by robots.
“Once you complete the design, you have to build the production line,” Han explains. “Then, you have to teach the robot. We have a simulation system built on top of our software that helps you do that. We have a tight integration with CAD and simulation.”
IronCAD is particularly focused on helping smaller companies.
“Automation is not new to big companies,” Han notes. “Small companies have to use it to be competitive,” hence IronCAD’s emphasis on a software package that helps machinery designers more efficiently serve smaller manufacturers.
Han co-founded IronCAD in 2001 when he took the design portion of Alventive, previously named Visionary Design System, and 3D/Eye a company founded by two Cornell University professors. Alventive’s focus was on an online concurrent engineering design solution.
“The technology was ahead of the market,” Han explains. In the ensuing 16 years since founding IronCAD, he has fine-tuned and expanded the software and now boasts tens of thousands of customers around the world.
Han is particularly proud of the role that IronCAD software played in helping school teachers and students getting familiar with and gaining hands on experience on today’s design technology for manufacturing.