We sat down with our CTO, Doug Korneffel, to discuss how the industry has embraced 3D part models over time and where we’re heading next.
It’s been over a decade since manufacturers began to see the value of 3D part models as necessary marketing content. Today, companies across industry verticals use these digital parts as lead generators on their website and across the internet.
You might be asking, “Aren’t 3D part models old news to my industry?”
Not so. 3D models are still the #1 trend in terms of awareness, usage and importance. What was once seen as a tool for CAD engineers has matured into an essential piece of content marketing for manufacturers big and small.
Every manufacturer needs to provide 3D models to customers online, on their websites, and on enterprise solutions for OEMs. And let’s not forget the architects – BIM continues to skyrocket, and these designers need on-demand 3D models, too. So where do we go from here?
We sat down with our Chief Technology Officer, Doug Korneffel, to discuss how the industry has embraced digital CAD models and what’s coming in the next decade. With 15+ years of experience at CADENAS PARTsolutions, and 20+ before then in the industrial landscape, Doug is attune to the industry trends and is our go-to expert on 3D model technology.
Let’s dive in.
Q&A with Doug Korneffel, CTO at CADENAS PARTsolutions
Q: You’ve been in the 3D Digital Part Catalog business for +15 years. Can you tell me more about how the industry has changed its view on 3D models since you’ve been in it?
A: In the past, digital part catalogs could only create simple parts of various sizes with a few options. Catalogs were focused on the delivery of CAD files for use by CAD modelers, who would test the part in their application and later tell the purchasing team the part specifications to buy. It was a CAD tool for CAD users.
Now we can create assemblies, and even “assemblies of assemblies”, that are capable of configuring millions of valid product variations. These catalogs can deliver mechanical, electrical and architectural files, as well as product Spec sheets that mirror the exact product configured. Those are all used by many people outside of CAD, in product planning, and even purchasing. The modern 3D digital catalog is an engineering tool and a marketing tool for those manufacturers looking to get their parts spec’d by anyone.
Q: 3D part models and product catalogs have made a big impact on CADENAS PARTsolutions’ clients. Can you tell me how?
A: Our clients have found that when they provide a great customer experience, their customers find it easy to do business with them, and sales increase. The part catalog has become a critical component to manufacturer’s online success.
When our clients provide their customers with an easy way to configure a product, get the exact part number, see that product in 3D and then get a detailed product datasheet for that precise configuration, they are really bolstering that 3D customer experience. CADENAS PARTsolutions gives manufactures the tools to make all aspects of specifying a product very easy.
Q: What is the future of this technology, and how will 3D part models help manufacturers prepare for what’s coming?
A: Critical information in 3D is the next step to helping manufacturers communicate with their customers. We already have great 3D visualization of products in place, now manufacturers need to be thinking about the quality of the data in their parts.
Parts with high-quality data are more valuable to engineers, architects, and the enterprises they work for. Unlike a neutral file, these data-rich, digital parts enable them to create digital twins and enable Industry 4.0 at their companies. A key component of this idea is termed MBE, Model-Based Engineering or Model-Based Enterprise, and the forward-thinking companies are demanding that their engineers and architects use these data-rich parts in their designs.
For companies that provide 3D part downloads online, there are several ways to improve the data quality and user experience around your models. Critical dimensions and Hotspots are two examples. Manufacturers can now place “hotspots” right on the 3D model that link out to videos and other media. This speeds-up the information exchange and delivers more value to your customers. Critical dimensions displayed in 3D give the customer additional confidence that they have configured the most compatible product for their requirements.
Q: CADENAS PARTsolutions recently published a new book: How to Sell More Products with 3D CAD & BIM Models. Why should industrial marketers read this book?
A: Marketers need to realize that what was once a niche service, providing CAD models to CAD users, is now a fantastic gateway to building a great online customer experience for many types of their web site visitors. This can easily be used to modernize a company’s outward appearance, and the technology makes it much easier for customers to find, select and ultimately purchase their products.
Now to do this, marketers need to understand how 3D CAD and BIM models fit into the process. Marketers need to ask, “What’s the best way for my company to provide these files to our customers?”
This book answers that question and gives them the how.
Q: This new book teaches industrial marketers the different ways in which they can use 3D models to market and sell their products. What’s the next step they should take after reading this book?
A: Marketers should take a look at what their industry is doing. How are your competitors making their parts available online and on their website? What technology does your competition use to deliver CAD and BIM files? Remember, your customers are using every application and CAD software available, and you need to deliver what they each expect. Also, where do your customers go to search for parts to spec into their designs?
There are the visible things that can be seen online, but then there are the many things that are going on behind the scenes that can get them more sales leads and RFQs, get their products in more places online and behind OEM firewalls, and improve their business. At CADENAS PARTsolutions, we build and support all these backend benefits, and we can show them how easy it is to reuse a single 3D digital catalog on a multitude of websites, distributor sites, industry sites, and even in engineering software behind firewalls.