In the 2000s, CAD was in a rut. Sure, there were regular updates with lots of new power features, but the advances did little to attract or inspire new users beyond the traditional base of CAD jockeys. Other emerging design platforms like Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and new Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) tools grabbed the spotlight.
As CAD vendors looked to expand their product portfolios, they talked up the major impact that PLM's promise could have on product development. They actively promoted how analysis-led design could radically improve product quality, reduce costs, and escalate time-to-market. Yet when it came to their bread-and-butter CAD offerings, their relative silence was almost deafening.
Lately, though, CAD has made a resurgence. Thanks to an array of new 3D modeling advances and, in some cases, a complete rethinking of how CAD functionality is delivered, we're starting to see an exciting generation of new platforms. These incorporate functionality for both the power user and for those involved in product development who've long remained on the CAD sidelines.
Click the image below to see our slideshow of the recent innovations that are breathing new life into CAD:
Stress analysis capabilities within Autodesk Inventor allow users to predict how a design will work under real-world conditions before building it. Mini Toolbars bring context-sensitive options directly into the modeling interface, and they will adapt to both the current operation and the current selection.
I've been using CAD on my laptops (all Macs) for over 10 years. I can't imaging being tied to a desktop, although I do occasionally use one. My CAD program (Vectorworks) won't allow me to run my copy on both machines at once - if it did, then I'd use the desktop more.
You raise an excellent point, TJ. But to me, the idea of using a neck-mounted or body-mounted brace defeats the whole mobility promise of tablets so there's got to be another way. My guess is we'll see more 3D-friendly mouse gestures incorporated into the future generation of tablets as all types of data, not just CAD models, become 3D in nature. And your comments about providing an opening for a forward-thinking entrepreneur with a good idea is right on the money!
With a good enough user interface for pointing, clicking, selecting, sizing, etc, I can see using a tablet. It may not be powerful enough to render photorealistically, but I doubt many people design in that manner.
The failure of tablet engineering will be the need for a third hand. Two hands would be needed for manipulating the user interface; one needs a third hand to just hold the device. I see neck-mounted or body-mounted braces in the future. A easel or kickstand for the tablet won't be enough with the amount of hand interaction; the stand wouldn't hold up. Flat on the table is a somewhat un-ergonomic position for the tablet.
Actually mobile is a pretty big new thing for CAD, Rob. I think it's way too early on to tell if the emerging set of mobile design tools fill a need or are gaining traction. There's really only a handful and most deliver viewing and limited markup capabilities--all aimed at engineers or service technicians in the field who need to access 3D models for presentation purposes, design reviews, or potentially in-field service. As far as full-out CAD work goes, I don't think anyone is really thinking a mobile device, be it a smart phone or tablet, will be the preferred platform for that kind of heavy duty, graphics-intensive work.
Nice slideshow, Beth. As with CAD itself, the pictures tell the story. What hit me at the end was the move to mobility. I suppose this isn't a big change -- just a different way to access the same software. But I'm curious about how widely CAD is used by mobile devices. Is this an option that's available just because it can be, or are mobile CAD applications filling a need and getting traction?
Lantronix Inc. has expanded its line of controllers for sensor networks with the release of a rugged controller that improves management of automation systems used in a number of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, and chemicals.
Inspired by the hooks a parasitic worm uses to penetrate its host's intestines, the Karp Lab has invented a flexible adhesive patch covered with microneedles that adheres well to wet, soft tissues, but doesn't cause damage when removed.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is