OSE School Collaborative CAD

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At OSE, we do true collaborative design - a paradigm which enables large teams of people to collaborate in real-time on CAD files. This is beyond what any industrial CAD system offers - yet it can be done using simple, open source tools. Here we explain how this can be done. Once this process is understood by participants - this process can scale to any number of people, engaging in CAD design, in realtime. While results remaining transparent, open (not locked as in typical CAD processes), and as fast as the number of people collaborating.

The system relies on principles of the Second Toyota Paradox (reconciliation of commits as late into the process as possible - allowing for excessive prototyping and thus extensive vetting of solutions) and Extreme Manufacturing (primarily contract-based design). The process absorbs multiple levels of abstraction (multiple levels of detail) as an inherent part of its file management, and involves Positionally Correct Parts. The process requires minimal CAD skill, but requires a more in-depth understanding of a collaborative process - to allow the process integration necessary to enable scalable participation. In this sense, the design protocol and its included file management requires a high level of discipline. At the same time, the process is built on very little technically advanced procedure - so that is is the integration of many different aspects of collaborative design that makes the process challenging. It is not hard to learn - it just requires the participants to learn a process that contradicts all notions that central command is required to keep the process together. In this sense, this is highly counterintuitive, and in many cases highly offensive, to seasoned CAD professionals. Thus, the less knowledge of formal CAD one has, the easier it is to learn. It must be stated that the process is designed for scalability without central control.

The process is decentralized by informing all participants maximally, and thus not relying on any single person. Only by informing all collaborators transparently can the process transcend central gates. The process allows for transparency by its focus on documenting design rules and their verification. The information presented includes specifications, Design Guides, Part Libraries of admissible parts, Admissible Vendor Lists, Genealogies, Analysis of Industry Standards, and and other elements of Concurrent Engineering.

Thus, the essence of large-team design shifts to documentation of design knowhow - and relegates technical CAD drafting to a secondary position. The process is cumulative, in that participants are encouraged to document the design knowhow - and reify it in part libraries, Part Generators, Design Workbenches, CAE Modules, and others - if any is missing in the process