New data enables manufacturers to see the true ROI for their online catalog and 3D CAD downloads.
How do manufacturers draw the connection between the 3D CAD downloads from their website and a real, cash sale? Many manufacturers, who already use a digital parts catalog have seen the results reflected in their sales. Another way is to go ask engineers, the consumer of 3D CAD downloads, and that’s exactly what we did.
We asked engineers from more than 500 companies: “If you download a CAD file of a part, does the physical part ultimately get purchased?”
This is question has been a cornerstone of each of our previous engineering surveys. Resoundingly engineers have said “yes.” The past three surveys in 2011, 2013 and 2015 have yielded 85%, 77% and 82% respectively, confirming there is a genuine correlation between the parts engineers download online and the parts they buy.
When you take a step back, the idea seems very logical. An engineer needs a part for his design; it would be very time consuming to re-draw that part, so he hunts around the web to find a model he can download of the part. That part is then incorporated into the engineer’s design. If the 3D CAD download is supplied by a provider who includes native CAD support and part meta-data, the component will retain all of the important manufacturer information for the final Bill of Materials (BOM).
Once purchasing gets the BOM for the project, they already have the manufacturer and the exact part number. Why would they go to another supplier? It’s all right there, the hard work of specifying the part is done, all purchasing needs to do is place the order.
So, what about the 18% of engineers in the “No” category? Maybe these engineers redrew the part themselves; leaving it to purchasing to spec the exact part number. Maybe they used a model from a manufacturer who’s CAD download provider doesn’t supply the part number meta-data. Again, purchasing has to shop for the part. Or maybe they were just test-fitting the part in their design, it didn’t fit as they would have liked, so they went and downloaded another. Whatever the case, these engineers are in the vast minority.
Conclusion: When engineers download parts models, they convert to a physical sale 82% of the time. Now, manufacturers are able to see the true ROI for their online catalog and their 3D CAD downloads.
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