Looking for CAD software

We manufacture custom made products. Our customers supply us with materials (we supply some but not relevant here) So our customers need to know how much money to send and how much material. I have set up Navision to calculate how much material. Problems are this: Source of errors in calculations: -logic flaw - which I have a fairly easy method of checking (if I know there is a problem/might be) -parameters which get plugged into logic/formulas for the various products/options 1) Working with system in “debug” mode. Going through various products and options seeing if it comes up with the correct numbers. The only way to do it now, is to spit out a bunch of numbers and painstakingly go through them. 2) No possible way to go through all possible combos of products/options before implementing it/going “live” So, users (Customer Service reps & some shop floor people), need to double check results. Again, buried in numbers, time consuming to go through (which kind of defeats the purpose) In addition users, not computer savy and some not very good with math. What is going to happen is that they will take numbers as gospel and even if not take for gospel, will not take time/properly check them. The way to solve this, in my mind, is to draw a picture…worth a billion numbers [:)] With the way the numbers are crunched/stored, it would it seem to be easy to import data into a CAD/drawing software which would draw the picture(s) Most (all?) of the drawn objects would be simple shapes, rectangles, triangles, circles, ovals, lines etc. and the like. The drawings would not even have to be to scale. Data Navision has (could have), could easily give instructions to drawing software, along the lines of: draw a rectangle of width X and length Y and draw a line on left side, 1 inch in and do same on right side. (-Simplified to an extent.) I can find CAD software (duh) but none that I have located can import data and draw objects based on the data. Many can allow user to draw then spit out data (which would come in handy, in that sometimes customer gives us wrong parameters. Might be easier to have user put new data into CAD software (or rearrange drawing) and have CAD send new data to Navision). If I could get picutres drawn then users could tell almost instantly if and where a problem is. (For debug purposes it would be a lot easier and faster for me too) All we need is simple 2-D stick drawings (not 3-D, not animated, not mutlimillion colors, etc.) Anybody have ideas? PS I am a neophyte to CAD, I get 2-D, 3-D, but beyond that I am lost (rendering to me is what goes on a t a glue factory) Would it be possible to do it with Office and Visual Basic? e.g. save data to csv file, open Excel? template with VB/macros in it and it draws rectangles/circles/lines of the sizes/dimensions stored in cells?

I will preface my comments by noting that I am not a CAD expert. My first thought was to check out Visio as it is a Microsoft product, does simple drawings well and is well integrated with Office. I leave the Visio research to you. My second thought was to do a little Web research. I searched on: cad import ascii csv I found several sites that look interesting including CADdepot.com, CADForum.com and CADalog.com. The first and last of those seemed to have the most applicable utilities. Among those were XYZ Input for AutoCAD, XYZ Input for Rhino, and CoOrdinator on the CADDepot site. But take a look at what’s on CADalog too. Good luck.

As David, I am also no CAD expert, we just encountered some requiremente to find a way to integrate a CAD software with Navision to load some BOM and material specification from the CAD software… so far the introduction. Basically I think there exist two ways to solve your problem: 1) draw the picture in the CAD software, export the “list of materials” used with their specification (lentgh, form, etc) and load this file into Navision via dataport or report, whatever fits best. For example, a 2D CAD software that does export BOMs is Mecanical Desktop by AutoCAD. Watch out, not all CAD softwares do export the list of material! especially the older systems do not have this funcionality, the newer full blown 3D systems do all have this option, but I guess this will not be the best and cost effective option. 2) What you also might check out is to control the CAD software via OCX from Navision, usually all the CAD software do have Automation available, but that task might be quite difficult to solve and to programm from Navision. If these drawings are really simple than rather look out for a simple “drawing software” that comes along with some automation or ocx. I have been searching for a mspaint-ocx but looks like this one does not exist. Hope this helps a bit and good luck [;)] Nils