The SolidWorks Manufacturing Network (http://www.solidworks.com/swmn/) is a Web-based service that allows a consumer product manufacturer, for example, to access the network Web site to find a directory of mold makers also using SolidWorks. The directory provides the consumer product manufacturer with all of the necessary contact information, as well as a brief description of the mold maker's core focus. The product manufacturer can then use this information to pick and choose the vendor that most closely suits its design needs. <br/>
The manufacturing network gives vendors added market exposure to a wide range of SolidWorks customers and a path to increased revenue. For manufacturers like The Protomold Company, Inc., a Minnesota-based injection molded part maker, the network ultimately helps them help their customers. <br/>
"Our mission is to produce injected-molded parts in five days," said Kevin Crystal, Protomold's quality engineer. "If a buyer sends us a SolidWorks file, we don't have to worry about reworking the design or converting it from another CAD package to prevent production problems. All we have to do is load the file into our system and begin machining the mold. The Manufacturing Network assures our customers and prospective customers that we can help them meet their aggressive production deadlines because we're all working with the same design files."
The Manufacturing Network also establishes a Web community of SolidWorks users that acts as a referral service to manufacturers trying to complete projects. For example, the consumer product manufacturer can access the Network to find a vendor using SolidWorks that can make plastic casings for its devices. Realizing the product also needs a sheet metal part, the vendor recommends a nearby sheet metal company that it has worked with in the past and that also uses SolidWorks and appears on the Network. Now the product manufacturer has lined up two essential pieces of its production cycle, and the vendors can turn around their designs quickly because everyone is using SolidWorks software. <br/>
"Translating CAD data from one format to another slows product development and manufacture, and can put product managers at risk of missing their projections," said Robert McGill, director of the SolidWorks Manufacturing Network. "The SolidWorks Manufacturing Network gives buyers a Web-based index, searchable either by category or name, that they can use to find a SolidWorks enabled vendor that will get them into production quickly. Getting products to market faster is what defines success in the manufacturing industry."
The Manufacturing Network can be found at