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Manufacturers increasingly see the value of offering customization tools to customers as a way to streamline the sales process and improve customer satisfaction—especially for products that have variations in design in almost every instance. When Autodesk began encouraging resellers to build their own design tools using Forge, Autodesk Platinum Partner SolidCAD accepted the challenge and launched Variant, a configuration tool for its manufacturing clients. Through Forge, Variant brings models to the web so that buyers can customize, refine, and price their product options online. Manufacturers’ customers like to use Variant because it gives them more control over the end product and a better-informed process for making decisions; manufacturers use Variant because it speeds up sales cycles and increases brand loyalty.
As an Autodesk reseller, Canada-based SolidCAD has long advised manufacturing customers to rely on configuration tools built into Autodesk products, such as Inventor mechanical design and 3D CAD software. However, because many of these configuration tools are built into desktop software and also require users to be proficient in CAD tools, they are usually inaccessible to an audience beyond designers. SolidCAD saw a market opportunity to create a configuration tool that manufacturers’ customers and sales teams could easily access via the web, and also connect models to Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.
Since SolidCAD’s goal was to bring configuration to the web browser, the company chose the Forge platform for the development of Variant. SolidCAD used Design Automation for Inventor, a new Forge API that enables web-browser rules and variable settings to interact directly with Inventor files. SolidCAD also uses the Viewer API to translate configuration files and display them in a web-viewable format.
Using the two Forge APIs, Variant helps manufacturers reduce the time-consuming back-and-forth communications—for example, among customers, sales team, and engineers—when trying to customize products, compare options, and price products. In addition, with Variant, sales teams and customers can configure and compare products without the need for CAD expertise.
Forge highlights include the following:
“Without Forge, we wouldn’t have a product. Forge is helping us expand our service offering by bringing configuration tools to the web, which provides both prospective customers and manufacturing sales staff with the ability to do complex configuration in a web browser—no CAD knowledge required." —Ryan Small, Software Development Manager, SolidCAD