I was conducting some research on parts yesterday for the LM Prototype and after speaking with a supplier, a thought occurred to me:
Access to supplier information - CAD files specifically - has become much easier in recent years and even seems to be an emerging standard in some fields.
Thanks to the internet and advancement of computers/electronic data, the barrier to obtaining technical data and electronic part files has been smashed down like the Berlin Wall.
In engineering, there are so many resources to obtain electronic data from the suppliers themselves or services like 3D Content Central, or through membership in such organizations as SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), where even the large auto manufacturers share certain files. Many wholesale supply companies even have CAD data available for many of their parts. One example includes McMaster-Carr.
All of this is a good thing for business, particularly small businesses like LM (Small businesses - less than 500 employees - make up 99.7% percent of the American workforce) because it allows us to check a part's compatibility before making investment in what could be the wrong part, obtain files or parts we'd like to use and design around them (and eventually decide to use them or not), saving time we'd normally have to spend waiting for the part, then reverse engineering it among several other reasons.