Updates and upgrades: Friend or foe?


Although updates and upgrades can come at a small expense, it’s important to keep your software running smoothly.

By Mike Lawlor

I’ve heard from a lot of designers and manufacturers as of late, discussing the topic of updating and upgrading software and hardware alike. Usually when I hear about it, it’s accompanied by outcries of expense, and grumpiness about the pace of technology’s ever-expanding upgrades and capabilities. Now, let’s take a moment to stand back and consider something. All of us – I mean everyone who has invested in anything from computer-aided design (CAD) software, to 3D printers, and even laser welders – at one point was looking forward at these pieces of tech, and thinking about the many ways it could expand our capabilities. It could make our day-to-day lives easier, and possibly even grow our businesses. So where are those thoughts when it comes to upgrades?

Lets take a deeper dive into it. When I first invested in CAD software, I started with Matrix version 7.5. Since 2014 we have seen two new upgrades to the software: version 8 and version 9. Yes, each one of these updates came with an expense, however each one has also come with new capabilities, new tools, and new possibilities.

Although in some cases that does mean that old tools are phased out in favour of new ones, what are we doing if we aren’t continuing to learn every day as we work?

As we discuss 3D printers we can look at the expansion of new models, as well as technology advancements in the fields throughout the past four years; and they’ve been massive. In many ways some of the printers today are extremely similar, despite the fine-tuning that has been done to them. This includes built-in computer screens, the speed in which they can manufacturer models, and even the decreased price point being seen in some brands and models. These are only a few of the changes we have seen occur in a very short matter of time, and it holds promise that there will be further growth in the next 5 to 10 years.

I agree that these added expenses of upgrades and updates to software may sometimes seem unnecessary, however you have to remind yourself to look forward to the future of your business, just like you did when you were originally investing in this technology. Remember how these upgrades and investments have revolutionized your business and helped you adapt to the current demand of consumers everywhere. When you look back on the previous years of owning this tech and equipment, remember the success it has brought you.

The simplest and easiest way I have found to accomplish upgrades, is plan it out. Create a budget and stick to putting that money away.

It’s not likely you’re going to have to invest in updates or upgrades every year, and having this type of development throughout the years makes the ability to pull the trigger on a new upgrade that much easier. It will also keep you constantly aware of new changes on the tech side of the industry, and will allow you to weigh the pros and cons of what pieces are worth to you and your business, before you find yourself feeling like you need to make the purchase.

After evaluating all aspects of an upgrade or update, remember you know your business better than any sales representative or any tech guru. If you’re finding success with a piece of equipment or particular software, keep it up-to-date. You will know if the investment is worth what it brings in, and it’s almost always a no-brainer.