Client not willing to give out raw CAD files

I’m working freelance with a client to produce a collection of renderings for an innovative new product that is awaiting a patent. Having signed an NDA covering “visualisation” of his designs, the client has sent me the eDrawings file, but doesn’t want to send me the raw Solidworks CAD files to do the renders. I’ve tried to explain to him that to do the Hypershot render I need the raw CAD or at least an IGES / STL but he’s not keen to let these files leave his office into “the public domain”. I spoke to his design engineer yesterday and he said that his boss is a bit paranoid because he’s been burnt once and doesn’t want to be burnt again.

I’m hoping he will speak to his patent attorney and try and amend the NDA, but is there another way around this?

I’d simply just state that you can’t perform your services without those files.

Exactly it’s as simple as that. You can’t do your job without them. That’d be like asking someone to photograph your wedding but telling them they can’t use a camera.

I agree with 6ix, if he can’t supply you with the necessary files, you can’t do it.
Make sure that he knows that this is not an issue with your skill set, willing to make this work or shady motives to pass this on. And that he understands that if he sends it elsewhere, he will have the same problem.

An alternative may be to go to his office and do them onsite.

Interesting. I hope he has a very good patent attorney and a lot of $$$. If the product is successful sooner or later someone in China will bust out the 3D scanner and he can kiss “his” design goodbye. Even international patents have a very hard time holding up in Asia.

I guess the morale of the story is, sooner or later someone will get the design he’s trying so hard to protect.

I also agree that you cannot do your work without the file.

I know a visualization guy in Palo Alto that re-CADs finished designs for the 3d spinnable designs you see on websites (the product is cell phones btw).

Seems counter intuitive, but they don’t want to release files either and have some kind of problem with true accuracy of 3D product in the public domain… so they pay him to re-build the finished products in CAD. Could be a situation like that.

An alternative may be to go to his office and do them onsite.

In California, to do so would reclassify yourself (in the states’ eyes (taxes)) as an employee … (time, and place of work determined by others). This “employee” test may apply in other states as well; a minor issue, but I thought I’d throw it into the ring.
edit - but I see you’re in the UK… never mind.

Consulting (freelance work) is very much about trust between designer and client. If you can sell him on the “safety” he will realize by utilizing your services you’ll have a client for life.

Cheers all. There is a possibility that I can do the work for him on site. But this sort of kills any flexibility I might get from working ‘freelance’.

We’ve got another meeting booked for Thursday and I’ll make it clear I can’t do the work without the files.

A lot of marketing houses will do this - mainly because a lot of traditional animation software can’t deal with the massive set of CAD data that comes along with say a car. It’s faster for them to completely rebuild the car then it is for them to convert it, so that’s what they’ll do.

With that said we send out CAD data all the time and let people sort it out. If you send a non-native format like an .STL theres not much you can do other than render it and maybe make yourself a shiny SLA.

Just show him this thread.

This client sounds like he doesn’t know squat.

Personally I don’t like working with people who are paranoid. It’s usually a sign of inexperience and clients who are paranoid of people stealing their ideas are usually novices and newbies.

A patent is only worth as much as your ability to enforce it. For most it’s way too costly to pay legal fees needed to enforce a patent. That is if he can even get a patent. It’s not like you pay a fee and you have a patent. You often have to prosecute the patent and revise claims in office actions. You’re better off just trying to be the best at marketing it rather than worry about knock-offs cause you can’t control that and can’t afford to fight it unless you are some big corporation.

You could charge him extra to re-create the CAD (or have prototype 3D scanned).

It might net you more money and give you a chance for some experience working with 3-d scanned data. Myself, I’ve never worked with that, and might approach it as a way to get a bit more money for a project AND some new experiences… rather than a less ideal CAD project of someone else’s design.

Agree with above comment, this could be an opportunity for you to make more money by billing for the time you’ll spend modeling this new product. You could also have him send you an edited IGES file with only the parts/surfaces you’ll need for the renderings, sort of like a “shell”.

And at least you have some eDrawings files to work from, hopefully with some dimensions. I once had to create renderings for a client who would not even release photos of the product, I was shown the prototype at the headquarters and had to sketch what I saw.

Sometimes it’s not worth the grief of working with people like this. If they continue to be difficult it may be better to move on and work on projects with better clients. The time you spend explaining stuff to this moron is more than doing the work. Life is short, sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on to bigger and better things worthy of your valuable time. This client sounds like he’s not legit and knows nothing about how things work.

Give him the alternatives:

  1. x hours to take your raw CAD data, import, clean up and render

  2. y hours to rebuild your design and render

Your choice.