Outsourcing CAD Services to a UK based company rather than overseas

I will not indulge in any moral obligation as to why a UK business should endeavour to engage other UK business for their services. That is everyone’s own choice and down to company policies and ideals.

However, the decision whether to outsource your CAD requirements to a company oversee should not just be made on cost, especially not just on comparing the hourly rates of CAD draughtsmen.

There are several other aspects that need to be considered prior to Emailing over your and your clients designs to person you are highly unlikely ever meet in your live.

1. Hourly Rate Comparison

Many companies will advertise their hourly rate on the internet. You will notice that established UK based CAD services do not advertise their hourly rate on the internet.  Hourly rates should not be a metric for comparison as an hourly rate gives you no indication what a complete job will cost. If the hourly rate is half of another companies but they take double the time you have paid the same for longer lead time.

Further, outsourcing your work to a country that does not speak your native tongue and has a significant time difference substantially increases your management time. The time you spend on managing a job in a different country  will be far higher than one in the UK. Therefore your increased management time needs to be considered within any comparison. Your will also be communicating with them out of hours and at weekends.

2. Why are their hourly rates so much less

The employee cost is far less for several reasons (lack of a welfare state etc.) which I will not elaborate on any further in this article.

I should also note that after employee cost the second highest overhead for a CAD Engineering business is the hardware and software. A CAD workstation is significantly more expensive than a standard desktop PC and the CAD Software licenses such as AutoCAD and Solidworks have a one of purchase costs as well as yearly subscriptions. These costs apply to every country and the price is much the same whether you are in London, Munich or New Delhi. A workstation plus appropriate software can easily cost in excess of £10,000 plus a yearly subscription per desk.  If the company has not attained these licenses from an approved re-seller they are more likely to be illegal copies.

I am sure you would not what to use a plumber whose tools are all stolen.

3. Language barrier

Detailing a clear scope of works is the basis for a successful project. However, should the scope of work be written in different language for the person receiving the job this can easily create problems. The problem does not lie in basic communication it lies in the technical specific terminology. Engineers have a raft of terminologies specific for their discipline to describe their requirements. Engineers with the same native tongue but form a different discipline will struggle to understand some phrases.

4. Copyright

Besides that the ethics of copying are seen different in some countries, the copyright laws are different as well.  Within the UK we are all obliged to comply with the Copyright, Design and Patent Act 1988 and an infringement is a civil offence.


A design refers to the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or its ornamentation.

There is no criminal offence under the legislation. Infringement of a registered or unregistered design raises potential civil law liability not criminal.” (ref. http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/intellectual_property_crime/)

One should consider, that by Emailing or uploading your technical drawings to a company you do not know, who do not have to comply with UK law or court, you are entrusting a company with your designs or those of your client to whom you have no comeback whatsoever should anything go wrong.

5. Quality of work

Quality comes with a price it’s as simple as that. The quality of technical drawings is based on the whether the standards such as BS 8888:2011 have been complied with and simply the mistakes within drawings such as missing dimensions, symbols missing etc.

This quality can only be achieved by professional trained staff and quality check procedures.

Note:  There are obviously far more aspects for good quality drawings than just the above, however these would require a separate article all together.

This article is based on experience I have gained over the years of clients outsourcing their work oversees.  Just because a company is not UK based does not mean they will produce inferior work or copy the designs, this is not what this article is about.

In summary, a one should evaluate all pros & cons before making a decision of outsourcing ones CAD work prior to just engaging a company purely based on simplified price.

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