New parts search engine may disrupt conventional parts sourcing

Posted on 2 Apr 2013
An exploded CAD drawing showing the different parts in an assembly. A new search engine will enable quicker sourcing of standard and less common parts from multiple sources

A UK-based, “drag and drop” 3D parts search engine that matches parts to 3D CAD drawings of components claims to be “the democritisation of industrial sourcing”.

The new website, www.3dpartsource.com, which launched last week, receives CAD drawings of parts and finds precise or close matches for those parts.

Users can specify how far they want to source the parts from – a global search will theoretically find matches from suppliers anywhere in the world.

The site’s developer claims the facility could disrupt the traditional, laborious methods of searching for standard parts using catalogues and seeking prices from known suppliers.

“Our search tools are highly disruptive to the conventional and pervasive sourcing process that remains opaque, inefficient, and costly,” said Dr. Seena Rejal, founder of 3Dpartsource.com. Our search tools represent the democratization of industrial sourcing.”

The site provides parts lists but can also help “DIY engineers” to specify their parts more accurately.

When sourcing many components conventionally, a qualified design engineer creates a design using CAD modelling software, updating this via multiple design iterations to work within the constraints of the design and its purpose. The product design is dissected into parts and, once fully tested, derives a final list of parts and perhaps a list of available suppliers.

3Dpartsource.com should make the process easier where, it claims, the average “Maker in his garage factory” can produce a list of fully specified parts from a list of approximated or unqualified parts.

Parts created in CAD that are not perfectly specified for the designed product can be dragged into the search engine. The list of parts it matches should provide the designer with parts with physical specifications that fulfil the design intent more accurately.

One or two other parts search engines that use key words, such as 3D Content Central, are available but www.3dpartsource.com is the first to use a visual, shape-based engine.

Dr Rejal added, “This component search engine aims to transform the industrial part sourcing experience. Sourcing – a critical everyday business process – has remained inefficient, time-consuming and costly for generations; a necessary frustration for manufacturers. [Our site] brings technology to bear on the problem, allowing instant and accurate matching of buyers and suppliers.”

http://www.3dpartsource.com/