What design software today could best meet furniture market tendencies?


What software should you use for Furniture making, Cabinetry, Joinery or Millwork ? This weeks guest post from Graham Mansfield of Microconcepts introduces ‘Woodwork for Inventor’.

Wood Work For Inventor - Furniture making Plugin

The world has recently observed 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 for Woodwork for Inventor in the United Kingdom.

In the aspects of furniture design capabilities, furniture design software could be divided in such types as:

  • Universal Design Systems.

AutoCAD – This is not the only, but most commonly and well-known universal design system, which is suitable for the design of machines, roads, houses, and the furniture too. Capabilities of this software allow designing complex furniture and in many cases more complex than specialised furniture design systems.

But at the time such versatility does not mean that AutoCAD is ready to meet all the furniture design specific requirements. An exclusive design of the furniture and the automated preparation of information for furniture production is not available or it becomes difficult and time-consuming work.

  • Specialised 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 specialised furniture design systems. Most of such software give a lot of automation, which speeds up design processes, but really limits their flexibility in terms of furniture design complexity.

Another problem seen, is that many of the specialised systems are based on a template design. Usually it means that a user can not 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 manufacturers it means an additional cost of time and money and, in some cases, production pausing or even loss of an 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 additional lost time and errors appear. Therefore pure mechanical design systems can not compete with specialised furniture design systems.

  • Specialised 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 any more.

Modelling opportunities become an increasingly important factor, therefore a combination of mechanical design system modelling capabilities and a specialised furniture systems automatization might be the best answer for today’s market challenges – creation of furniture of any complexity level from any material in quickest way, using full mechanical design system modelling capabilities and to have automation of design processes in one hand. Recently specialised add-ons of furniture design for mechanical design system appear within  the market.

While AutoCAD 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 (www.woodworkforinventor.com.) 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 United States.


…to be continued



To learn more about how woodwork for Inventor can help you design faster and reduce errors, contact us at www.woodworkforinventor.com.

For U.K. enquires or want to join an Introduction to Woodwork for Inventor event, contact www.microconcepts.co.uk/events


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