3D CAD – The Evolution Journey

Before this CAD was 2D and replicated traditional hand drawn engineering or archtitectural drawings on film or paper, a process that had been around for many years.

3D CAD has grown in functionality since the 90s and has become increasingly sophisticated enabling users to design quicker, easier & more accurately than ever before. The design data is used to produce prototypes or manufactured parts, or buildings.

A milestone since then have been, ‘add ons’ such as Visualisation and Simulation of parts within it’s intended engineering environment, traditionally used at the end of a design process. These can now be used near the beginning in realtime to analyse and verify design behaviour, therefore saving time before going down some unwanted cul de sacs!

Another milestone recently is ‘generative design’ whereby the designer inputs engineering goals and parameters such as physical boundary conditions, material options, applied loads, manufacturing methods and cost constraints. The software then provides a set of variations that solve the engineering problem and the designer chooses an optimum design solution!

3D CAD has also changed over the years in the area of financing. Traditionally ‘seats’ were purchased using a perpetual license model and software owned by the user indefinitely. Now CAD is moving to subscription based pay-as-you-go model, where the user pays a monthly or annual fee or leases software for a set period.

A further development is SAAS (Software As A Service) whereupon software is accessed via the ‘cloud’ or internet and deployed from there. The hardware restrictions of single user in the office are lifted and collaboration of design work is made easier by users or teams from around the world, using the latest software. The ‘add ons’ mentioned earlier are also paid for on a ‘on demand’ basis, which can lower costs.

My only reservation of the direction CAD software is taking is ‘contingency’ and ‘ownership’ – if the cloud or internet based software goes down (which is a possibility), what back up is there? In addition the latest software will eventually be only available from SAAS. The present situation of the CAD software market is that legacy CAD software of perpetual license holders will eventually go out of date, as it is not possible to upgrade to the latest software on a stand alone license basis. It seems users will only be allowed to lease software, and not own it and decide to upgrade when they choose.

To conclude 3D CAD software has progressed in leaps & bounds over the last 30 years, but ownership is moving from user to software supplier, with increased financial control.

Hope you have a good month

All the best



Quotation corner:

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” – Henry Ford

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”  – Steve Jobs

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike