No doubt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride in 2009. Yet many of the challenges manufacturers face revolve around innovation and getting the best products to market in the most timely fashion. That going to call for a focus on product development strategies, which means it should be an interesting year on the design tool front. Here’s what I think will be the big stories:
1. Despite hard economic times and dwindling technology budgets, companies from car manufacturers to electronics makers will prioritize innovation practices in an effort to gain a competitive edge. CAD and PLM tools will have a role in helping companies create sustainable product development best practices that will help ensure the right products get to market at the right time.
2. CAE analysis tools will continue to grab the spotlight. As manufacturers try to make costly physical prototypes a thing of the past, engineers are doing more sophisticated simulation and analysis work further upfront in the design process. In response to this growing demand, leading CAD vendors will continue to integrate formally standalone CFD and FEA functionality, among other CAE capabilities, into their core tool sets.
3. In keeping with Trend #2, leading CAD tool vendors will continue their acquisition sprees, buying best-of-breed tools to fill out their product lines. We saw a hint of this in 2008 with Autodesk’s acquisition of Algor.
4. Green product development and environmental compliance becomes an even hotter issue. Manufacturers are looking at more environmental regulations and even more demand from consumers for greener and sustainable products. Look for design tool vendors to add ever more green design and compliance capabilities to their offerings. Case in point: PTC’s acquisition of Synapsis Technology, which delivers a product compliance tracking solution for PTC’s PLM platform.
5. 3-D for all. With products like Google SketchUp [sketchup.google.com] and Dassault’s 3DVIA, any one can create a 3-D representation of a product or a building. Coupled with an expanding palette of visualization capabilities and much more advanced rendering functionality, mainstream users and consumers are going to increasingly be empowered to participate in the design and development process. This promises to have a huge impact on how products are conceptualized and delivered.
What do you think will be the big design tool stories?