NEW YORK -- Computer-aided-design systems are proving too useful even for small, budget-conscious manufacturers and independent designers to ignore.
"It's a major high when you can start working at the pace you're thinking," said Lauren Siller, who operates a one-woman design firm called Coloring Book out of her apartment on New York's Upper West Side. "There's no turning back once you start using a CAD system. I could never do without it now."
Siller bought her CAD system only a year ago, and she had no prior experience working with computers. Her situation, however, isn't unusual. She's is part of a growing number of smaller companies who are finding that CAD is a competitive as well as a creative necessity.
"I'm seeing far more independent designers and small companies jumping on board," commented Alison Grudier, a Boston-based CAD consultant.
"You can't get into design today and think you don't have to be CAD literate," added Teri Ross, a consultant with Minnetonka, Minn.-based Imagine That Publications. "Everyone under 30 is."
Santa Rosa, Calif.-based home furnishings manufacturer Pommes & Pomegranates, installed a Modacad system last month. But the fact that the company's sole designer hasn't learned the system yet -- she'll be trained on it in the coming months -- hasn't kept Pommes from putting the system to use.
"Our designer makes paintings, and I scan her designs into the computer," said Mary Carrol, director of design imaging at Pommes. "Then I can use the system to make repeat designs and alter the color palette. Once our designer is trained on the system, she'll mix painting with design work done directly on the computer."
Ingleman Design, a small Hutchinson, Minn.-based textile design firm, has had its CAD system for two years. Ingleman purchased its software first -- a move CAD consultant Ross said is wise -- and then put together the hardware to support it.
"We bought software first," said Karin Colberg, a textile designer at Ingleman. "Then the software vendor recommended the hardware that we needed and we went out and purchased it. We started with one Macintosh 900 workstation and a big color copier that doubles as a scanner and printer. But within a year, we purchased two Macintosh Quadra workstations."
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