Given the overwhelming groundswell of enthusiasm for social networks and consumers’ relentless quest for sharing -- and over-sharing -- with communities of like-minded peers (as well as vehement opponents), it makes sense that many new paradigms and capabilities are finding their way into traditional engineering tools, as well as into new interpretations of traditional tools.
Several of the leading CAD and PLM vendors, as well as startups, are enhancing the traditional design experience with social functionality, allowing engineers to better locate IP experts, collaborate on designs, foster brainstorming around innovation, and in some cases, actually create new innovations in an open, social forum.
Click the image below to see 15 examples of CAD going social:
Local Motors is a car company built around the concept of social product development and co-creation. This is the winning design for the FLYPMODE, the experimental crowd-derived Combat Support Vehicle Local Motors worked on in conjunction with DARPA. (Source: Local Motors)
The idea is leverage some of the newer collaborative and interactive capabilities people are getting accustomed to in their personal lives--rating systems, status comments, sharing information, seeking out like-minded peers--and incorporating them into traditional CAD and other design tools to foster a more inclusive and collaborative design interaction. I don't think the social capabilities are intended for sharing IP, but rather for fostering more design interaction and feedback and brainstorming in a manner that feels comfortable with how people are already doing this today on a personal level.
More than mobile capabilities, the utility of adding social functionality to CAD and PLM platforms seems to raise some serious skepticism among traditional engineers. Now that some of these functions have found their way into current design tool platforms, I'm curious if our audience is coming around and finding some of these capabilities useful, maybe even indispensible to their engineering workflows. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
While every company might have their own solution for PLM, Aras Innovator 10 intends to make PLM easier for all company sizes through its customization. The program is also not resource intensive, which allows it to be appropriated for any use. Some have even linked it to the Raspberry Pi.
solidThinking updated its Inspire program with a multitude of features to expedite the conception and prototype process. The latest version lets users blend design with engineering and manufacturing constraints to produce the cheapest, most efficient design before production.
MIT students modified a 3D printer to enable it to print more than one object and print on top of existing printed objects. All of this was made possible by modifying a Solidoodle with a height measuring laser.
Siemens released Intosite, a cloud-based, location-aware SaaS app that lets users navigate a virtual production facility in much of the same fashion as traversing through Google Earth. Users can access PLM, IT, and other pertinent information for specific points on a factory floor or at an outdoor location.
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