Pushing the envelope: How CAD is driving the world forward

We live in a golden age of innovation and progress. Ever since the industrial revolution, each passing decade has brought with it powerful new technologies and solutions to age-old problems. In the 21st century, one of the driving tools behind much of this progress is computer aided design (CAD).

Whether it's prototyping a new hull for a submarine or a powerful new MRI machine, CAD is helping engineers and designers to do what was previously confined to the pages of science-fiction.

Let's take a look at four industries CAD software is set to change over the coming decades.

Maritime: Below the waves

Some of the most testing fields in the world when it comes to design are those in which the environment is completely hostile to humans. Environments like the deep ocean. It's here where design is everything: engineers must be able to meet weight limits and understand how pressure affects a vessel.

CAD software proves extremely useful when designing next generation submarines to carry people.

Dassault Systèmes, for example, are working as a preferred partner with DCNS on the next generation of Australian submarines. Just recently, DCNS selected Dassault Systèmes to provide the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to manage the entire lifecycle of its products. This will cover concept through engineering, construction, maintenance and operations services.

At BAE Systems, meanwhile, a designer of submarines, engineers are now using CAD software in combination with virtual reality displays to see how a vessel would look before steel is even contorted into the hull shape. Engineers can create the model of the submarine and then step inside to view dimensions and identify potential issues.

"The VR models give you a very real sense of the boat from the inside. People can literally drop in and walk through the exact area they are building," said Dimensional Control Inspector at BAE SYSTEMS Submarine Solutions, Dean Brown.

Aerospace: Next stop, Mars!

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is a developer of launch vehicles based in the United States, with the aim of dramatically reducing the cost of access to space. The company seeks to accomplish this task by creating reusable rockets that can launch a payload to orbit, then turn around and return to the launch site or a sea-based drone ship.

Understandably, such a massive goal requires engineering of the highest calibre – engineering that depends on powerful CAD software.

Now, SpaceX uses CAD software to design rocket assemblies with thousands of parts, 3D models to design launch simulations and unique control tools to manipulate a 3D model with ease. With some of the best engineers on the planet and powerful CAD software, SpaceX could soon be have the craft needed to get people to the red planet. 

Automotive: Electrifying the world's car fleet

The maker of James Bond's choice of vehicle is certainly a household name across the globe, and they didn't get there by sticking to outmoded forms of design.

British car marquee Aston Martin constantly adopts capable new technologies in order to design cars to an extremely high standard, including CAD software. With designers able to model vehicles using powerful software, it then becomes easier to work out aerodynamic efficiencies, problems with weight distribution and even what a car would look like using a different colour scheme.

Healthcare: Replacing the body

In what is perhaps the most popular use-case for CAD software, those in the medical field can use the technology to design products quickly and without the need for expensive physical prototyping. However, the technology could also be used on a much more granular basis.

In order to ensure patients have the right prosthetics assembled for their body, a medical professional could take detailed scans of the afflicted knee, hip or other joint, and import these in a piece of CAD software. Then, with the area of the body able to be viewed from all directions, the professional could design a replacement to a high degree of accuracy.

Interestingly, it's not an entirely different scenario to the fields we've explained above: CAD is essentially making older, established processes easier and faster.

A powerful approach – but the right tools are key

CAD software is an undeniably powerful way of designing – from products and packages right through to massive space rockets and deep sea submarines. The challenge for engineers and users, as always, is finding the right software. With SOLIDWORKS, there's an answer.

This is a proven tool that's been used by designers and engineers from around the world, to create products and machinery for a number of industries. Thanks to a strong set of features, along with powerful optional packages for simulation and electrical design, it should be the CAD software users consider.

Reach out to Dassault Systèmes today to learn more.