What Does the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection Have That You Need


What Does the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection Have That You Need

Not that long ago, a colleague mentioned that she had struggled to explain the “hype” about the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection to one of our costumers. I don’t blame her as she is from a completely different department of Autodesk.

I thought, with my 25+ years in design and manufacturing and too many CAD/CAM certifications to plaster on the wall, this would be an easy task to explain. Was I wrong…

Like any good engineer, I started with the break down: “The Product Design and Manufacturing Collection is a group of Autodesk products, including…”

  • Inventor
  • AutoCAD
  • Fusion 360
  • Inventor Nastran
  • Inventor Tolerance Analysis
  • Inventor Nesting
  • Inventor CAM
  • Vault
  • Factory Design Utilities
  • Navisworks Manage
  • 3DS Max
  • Recap Pro
  • HSMWorks
  • Autodesk Rendering
  • Autodesk Drive

Now, if you think this is an impressive list, then you and I have the same mindset. But I was not ready for her next question: “Why do you need so many products?” What a great question! I have to admit that I had to take a step back and think for a little while. Here is my answer:

Unsilo Your Engineering Department

Back in the conventional engineering days, each task had its department. And, each department followed a strict set of parameters of what they did and did not do—a department of mechanical engineers, a department of finite element analysis experts, the visual crew who were working closely with marketing and sales.

Each department was acting as a lone tribe, making the constant struggle of working together with one of the common goals.

Shift focus from teams to individuals

Team collaboration is crucial for any business’s success, but, at the same time, today’s individual workers are more autonomous than ever before, handling workloads that would have taken an entire team’s attention just a decade ago. The key differentiator, of course, is technology.

With the Product Design and Manufacturing collection, it starts with the Inventor at the center. As engineers, designers, fabricators, innovators, or whatever we want to call ourselves, we usually are not an assembly line of designers, spitting out new concept models every hour.

When breaking it down, we work on projects. These projects are different most of the time, and they present us with different challenges and obstacles.

As we have to figure out different solutions to various problems, we can use different tools to get the job done.

The best way of breaking down the “hype” of the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection is by breaking our projects into categories where different tools team up to solve problems.

Design & Make:

  • Inventor (Design)
  • AutoCAD (Design)
  • Inventor CAM (Manufacturing)
  • Factory Design Utilities (Assembly line layout and validation)
  • 3DS Max (Rendering software for design visualization)

-The ability to bridge the workflow from 2D AutoCAD to 3D Inventor has changed many customers’ workflows. With AnyCAD available, individuals can now share design changes without worrying about lost data.

-When adding Inventor CAM inside Inventor, the customers’ 2D parts, all the way to workholding and fixture design, are in one environment. Directly going from lines and arcs to the g-code for the CNC machine.

-With Factory Design Suite, you are able to assure that your new machine or equipment will not collide with cross beams and other parts of the building. You can also maximize your throughput, and AutoCAD and Inventor drive everything.

-The ability to create visual assets will enhance collaboration and communication. 3DS Max has the tools to help bridge the message across internal communication and assure customers’ full buy-in on projects.

Research & Develop:

  • Inventor (Design)
  • Inventor Nastran (Simulation aka FEA)
  • Tolerance Analysis (Tolerance stack up)
  • Fusion 360 (The power of cloud computing with Generative Design)

-Nothing will ever replace real-life testing. However, the fact that you can get critical feedback within Inventor makes Nastran the tool that can change your cost for bringing products to the market. When using Inventor Nastran, you can receive feedback on possible risk and failure before spending time and money building your prototype.

-If you are in charge of bringing a product to life that has more than two components, you know that tolerance on the manufacturing floor can be the factor for success or failure. Being able to see and adjust to the tolerance stack-up before the design goes for the approval process ensures mistakes get caught before leaving the design space.

-Generative Design has raised the standard for the design process. You have an intelligent tool available to deliver validated designs for your team to pick and choose from faster-than-you-can-come-up-with-one or two design alternatives.

Connect & Share:

  • Inventor (Design)
  • AutoCAD (Design)
  • Navisworks manage (Large scale project review software)
  • Vault (Data management and collaboration)

-Earlier in this article, I brought up the 2D AutoCAD to 3D Inventor workflow with AnyCAD. One tool will never fit every task, project, or person. Being able to connect and share is of the utmost importance within the team and among your customers. It is our job to do the 2D-to-3D work as seamlessly as possible.

-Including Navisworks in the Design and Manufacturing Collection helps you open large designs and combine your 3D models from different CAD tools, letting you navigate it all in real-time.

-When I started using CAD in the nineties, I never envisioned that I would have thousands of CAD files to store and manage. My Internet Explorer soon resembled my attic in my house. I have an idea about most of the stuff up there, but I could not tell you where it is precisely. That is not the way to run a professional design department these days. Vault will help you not only keep things organized, but also react much faster and avoid mistakes when the customer calls with a change. And, as you already know, they always call with a change.


  • Inventor (Design)
  • Inventor Nesting (Manufacturing Layout)
  • Inventor CAM (Manufacturing)

-The first tip has to be iLogic within Inventor. If you are not utilizing this tool today, you should spend an afternoon educating yourself. iLogic will let you save time and automate your design process. And the best thing about incorporating this into your day-to-day workflow is that it will trickle down into the other tools in the collection.

-Nesting is about one thing: efficiency in saving space. And saving space equals money in your pocket. If you are in the business where your product is fabricated out of a sheet of steel or wood, nesting will automatically layout your components to save material. Don’t rely on the shop floor for this task, as they are often not as knowledgeable about cost and pricing as you might think. (This is from a shop floor guy, yours truly)

-The ability to generate CNC g-code from within Inventor lets all the work be done by the one-person shop using one software, and the design department gets toolpath time for quoting jobs. But more exciting, with the automation of iLogic, you can get suggestions for pre-validated tool paths and needed material sizes. Now you are utilizing automation from your design tool, all the way to the finished product.


When businesses shift from one conventional CAD tool to a flexible, accessible, collaborative system, the benefits are measurable: stronger employee engagement resulting in improved efficiency and productivity and greater revenue over time. In short, empowered workers are effective workers. By providing them with the tools they need, you put your business in a position to achieve its full potential.

Written by: Lars Christensen

Lars Christensen is an award-winning Design & Manufacturing Expert who helps people that haaa-ate struggling with their CAD&CAM Software.
Through his totally-addictive blog posts and videos on his YouTube channel, he shares his experience so people can create and make their product in greater happiness. He has shared his know-how around the country, featured in manufacturing magazines as well as influential online engineering sites. And when he is not teaching and sharing in the design and manufacturing space, you can find him with his nose in the latest business/development book and is occasionally spotted indulging in scoops of ice-cream. Explore his YouTube channel to get the power to add “chop-chop” to your next design and manufacturing project.

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