Associated with manufacturing and assembly processes, inevitable geometric deviations have a decisive influence on the function and quality of products. Therefore, their consideration and management are important tasks in product development. Moreover, to meet the demand for short development times, the front-loading of design processes is indispensable. This requires early tolerance analyses evaluating the effect of deviations in a design stage, where the product’s geometry has not yet been finally defined.
Since such an early tolerance consideration allows quick and economic design changes seeking for robust designs, it is advisable that the design engineer, who is entirely familiar with the design, should take this step. For this purpose, this paper presents an easy-to-use CAD-based tolerance analysis method for skeleton models. The relevant part deviations are represented by varying geometric dimensions with externally driven family tables. The approach comprises the strength of vector-based methods but does not require an expensive set-up of tolerance analysis models. Particularly, the novelty of this method lies in the CAD-internal sampling-based tolerance analysis of simple geometries without the use of expensive CAT software. This enables designers to evaluate the effect of tolerances already at the preliminary design stage. Using a case study, the presented approach is compared with the conventional vector-based tolerance analysis.