There has recently been a huge growth trend in furniture production, which results in shorter design & production techniques, and most furniture is becoming increasingly complex.
"Consumers are mainly interested in furniture that looks good and appears to be a good value. No longer do they look at furniture as a “box”.
As a result, the consumer is spending more and more on exclusive furniture. It’s a good trend for furniture makers today, but at the same time it is a big challenge how to design such complex furniture and how to do it in the quickest way” says Graham Mansfield, Business Development Manager, whose firm (Micro Concepts Ltd) is the Autodesk reseller in U.K.
In the aspects of furniture design capabilities, furniture design software could be divided into several types:
Universal Design Systems.
AutoCAD – This is not the most common and well-known universal design system, which is suitable for the design of machines, roads, houses and furniture. Capabilities of this software allow designing complex furniture and in many cases more complex than specialized furniture design systems. But such versatility does not mean that AutoCAD is ready to meet all specific furniture design requirements. If an exclusive design of the furniture and the automated preparation of information for furniture production is not available, it becomes difficult and time-consuming work.
Specialized Furniture Design Systems.
This includes software, which is based either on the already mentioned AutoCAD program or have developed their own design engine. The rise in demand for individual and exclusive furniture highlighted the disadvantages of specialized furniture design systems. Most of such software give a lot of automatization, which speeds up design processes, but really limits their flexibility in terms of furniture design complexity. Another problem seen, is that many of the specialized systems are based on a template design. Usually it means that a user cannot use the ordinary design as a template and he needs to have the specific skills and tools in order to create such template. Otherwise you are forced to contact the software developer for template creation. For furniture manufacturersit means an additional cost of time and money and, in some cases, production pausing or loss of order. The final problem is that most of these systems are based on AutoCAD, so sophisticated furniture design is a tricky affair, as outlined previously.
Mechanical Design Systems.
Because of increasing market demand for complex and individual furniture we can see more and more mechanical design systems used in the furniture industry. Such systems as Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks or even Catia is used. Furniture, as consumer goods, belongs to manufacturing area where mechanical design systems allow designing furniture of any complexity and from any material. But there is a lack of certain functionality for furniture design in such software. As a consequence, it limits the ability of automated generation of information for production. The user of mechanical design system needs to add specific information of the furniture manually. So it causes additionallost time and errors appear, therefore pure mechanical design systems cannot compete with specialized furniture design systems.
Specialized furniture design add-ons for mechanical design systems
As we discussed at the beginning, today furniture manufacturers face the challenge of how to satisfy increasing requirement of customers for exclusive and at the same time, for more and more complex furniture. The execution of "Just In Time“ orders are becoming extremely important for furniture manufacturers. There are plenty of design tools all over the world, but it‘s universality or capability of automation is not enough anymore. Modeling opportunities become an increasingly important factor, therefore combination of mechanical design system modeling capabilities and a specialized furniture systemsautomatization might be the best answer for today’s market challenges – creation of furniture of any complexity level from any material in quickest way.
To use full mechanical design system modeling capabilities and to have automation of design processes in one hand, recently specialized add-ons of furniture design for mechanical design system appear within themarket. While Solidworks already had such an add-on, Autodesk Inventor did not. However, today I'm excited to announce that Autodesk Inventor has an answer for furniture producers – an extension called Woodwork for Inventor.
What is Woodwork for Inventor?
Woodwork for Inventor is an add-on for the Autodesk Inventor mechanical design software. It adds all the furniture design features necessary, which turns Inventor into a powerful and comfortable tool for furniture and other wooden product designs. This added functionality does not restrict any Inventor design capabilities and allows you to use it without any limits.
“The Inventor technology is the first tool that actually allows you to consider design first and not drafting. The wood industry software tools can do a decent job using libraries of components. But you are so involved in drafting that you miss the focus of what you are doing. Autodesk Inventor together with this new extension for woodworkers, it frees up the design side of things to make decisions early on in the process“, says Mr. Steve Widom, whose company (Widom Associates) is perhaps the only woodworking focused Autodesk reseller in the U.S.
Dr. Saulius DereškeviÄius is the inventor and architect of Woodwork for Inventor for Autodesk.