Survey Says Cloud-Based CAD, 3D Printer Use to Surge

The Business Advantage Group, a business-to-business research marketing and consulting organization that specializes in the Information Technology and Telecommunicating sectors, recently released its 2014 Worldwide CAD Trends Survey, announcing both a prospective increase in the cloud-based CAD industry and the anticipated incorporation of 3D printing.

The Business Advantage Group surveyed approximately 409 CAD users and industry leaders to mark current trends in the CAD industry and where it is expected to go within the next five years. This year, the survey noted some interesting trends and an overall shift in the CAD industry to begin incorporating newer, emerging technology -- one of which happens to be cloud-based software.

The 2014 CAD Trends survey recorded that although only 7% of the industry currently relies on the software, there will be an increase in the use of cloud-based CAD by 130% by the end of this year and an increase of 260% within the next five years. The survey also predicted that the shift is most likely to occur in the Americas and Asia/Pacific regions, compared to the EMEA. The question, then, becomes, why?

Cloud-based CAD software is a very new development in the CAD industry, but one that deserves further consideration. Cloud technology allows organizations in the CAD industry to purchase software-as-a-service. This means that a company can pay a monthly fee for access to CAD software and storage capacity, without having to purchase additional hardware or software updates, as they become available. This potentially offers businesses a more inexpensive way to do business through the cloud platform.

Another benefit to using cloud-based CAD software is increased storage capacity and the ability to store data in one off-site location, accessible anywhere with an Internet connection -- also known as in the clouds.

There are some general concerns pertaining to the cloud regarding security and lag in response time, but generally the Internet software solution is increasing in popularity, and Business Advantage has the statistics to prove it.

Business Advantage Group noted the upward trend of cloud-based CAD software and also asked why companies were making the switch. Of the users already using cloud-based CAD, including those who plan to, 76% attribute the switch to increased mobility. Thirty-six percent of users are making the switch because of increased storage capacity, 35% due to ease of updating software, and 33% due to reductions in operating costs. These aren't the only benefits consumers see, but they are the most popular reasons today.

The survey also predicted the possibility of the cloud-based CAD industry skyrocketing in upcoming years. While only 25% of the 409 people surveyed expect to use this online platform within the next five years, 47% of those surveyed confirmed having "high awareness" of the cloud-based solution, or in other words, high interest. With only 7% of the industry currently using the cloud, but approximately 47% at least interested in the technology, Business Advantage predicts an upward trend within the cloud-based CAD industry.

The survey also predicted another interesting trend -- the increased use of 3D printing.

The 2014 CAD Trends survey found that approximately 14% of the CAD industry surveyed relies on 3D printing. An increased trend is expected, however, because 21% of the industry anticipates using 3D printing by the end of the year and 32% anticipate using the technology within the next five years. The largest growth is expected among large companies, at 28%, but small and midsized companies are also expected to jump on board, at an increase of 16% and 6%, respectively.

According to the survey, the largest portion of growth is expected to occur in the Americas, which already show the highest percentage of usage at 26%. The EMEA and Pacific regions, where 12% and 11% of the CAD industry currently rely on 3D printing, respectively, are also, however, expected to see an increase in demand and usage of the technology.

The survey also asked those currently using 3D printers, and those who plan to, why they're making, or have made, the switch. The study found that 63% of the industry plan to use the technology to enhance design, 54% plan to use 3D printers to save time, 38% believe the technology will enable them to respond faster to changes in the market, and 24% believe 3D printing will save the organization in overall costs.

Whatever the reason, cloud-based CAD software and 3D printing better be on your "to-get familiar with" list.

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