In what appears to be a nod to the crowdsourcing approach to product design, Siemens PLM Software has forged a partnership with Local Motors, a car company built on the concept of co-creation, including the introduction of a pretty-radically priced subscription version of its Solid Edge CAD tool.
The new Solid Edge Design1, which will be available exclusively to the Local Motors global design community starting in January for $19.95 a month, marks the first time Siemens PLM Software has offered any of its products on a subscription basis. Solid Edge Design1 is touted as providing a set of functionality comparable to that of professional CAD tools -- Siemens officials say it has the same technology as the full-function version of Solid Edge, including 3D parts modeling with synchronous technology -- but at price point comparable to some of the free or low-cost tools.
Local Motors, whose collaborative approach to vehicle design was cited by President Obama earlier this summer in a speech on the future of American manufacturing, chose to align with Siemens PLM Software and Solid Edge because the CAD/PLM provider was on board with the idea that not every design enthusiast or crowdsourcing participant wants, or can afford to purchase, a $5,000-plus seat of CAD software.
"There's a number of free CAD authoring programs out there by the big names and they're great and they're free, but there's a limited level of functionality in terms of controlling the models and how precise you can be using the software," Alex Fiechter, engineering community manager for Local Motor's new Local Forge site, told us. "This is an attempt to give people much more functionality in terms of fundamentals in a form that's easy to digest and to grow."
The subscription version of Solid Edge Design1 is a key element of Local Motor's new Local Forge community, a retooled version of its Website aimed at reaching beyond the designer community to attract more mechanical, electrical, and mechatronics engineers to participate in the crowdsourcing process. The new site, Fiechter tells us, puts less emphasis on terminology and elements specific to designers (like a portfolio, for example) and provides a forum for showcasing work that might be part of an engineering team -- say, a specific component on an aerospace project.
"With Local Forge, we're aggressively addressing all the groups we want to create space for," says Fiechter, explaining that Local Motors is specifically looking to court a community of industrial designers, engineers and drafters, 3D CAD specialists, and fabrication experts.