The changing face of CAD

It was back in the 1960s where CAD first started to take off. Driven by a need to produce accurate design concepts for a rapidly evolving aerospace sector, the major industrial giants turned to a new type of tool.

With massive, room-sized UNIX computers able to run the very first iterations of computer aided design (CAD) software, the engineers responsible for developing spacecraft and commercial jets could produce detailed schematics with relative ease.

We've come a long way since then, and now CAD is used by both professionals and organisations across the globe – in nearly every industry imaginable.

Let's take a look at where CAD is right now, how it's changing, and where it's likely to go.

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A changing market

How users access and use CAD software continues to change. Since those early days of designing aircraft using massive computers, the technology has evolved significantly. Thanks to faster and smaller processors, it's now possible to run CAD software on laptops – and potentially even more portable devices in the future.

What's more, cloud-based subscription models continue to gain traction. According to market research from the Business Advantage Group – a firm that focuses on industries such as IT and software – the strongest growth potentials in the CAD software market lie with 'Pay As You Go' approaches.

Interestingly, faster and more reliable internet access has meant that it's easier to access additional content. In fact, 50 per cent of manufacturing CAD users download multiple models per month, while 60 per cent of CAD users do the same.

Being able to access frequently updated CAD software on a laptop, while downloading models from a cloud-based repository, certainly shows that CAD has come a long way. However, there's more to come.

Expanding to new horizons

The Business Advantage Group report found that augmented and virtual reality rank highly on the growth potential chart – something that may seem strange to those unfamiliar with the technologies. Commonly referred to as AR and VR, the current iterations of these new pieces of tech are a far cry from when they last started to take off back in the 1990s.

With AR headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens, CAD users can design and view a model within a real environment. For example, taking the headset into a warehouse and designing a life-size model of a car in a real space.

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With VR headsets, users can view models in a virtual environment. A headset such as the HTC Vive, for example, will allow users to step into an aircraft hangar and see what a plane would look like under the intended lighting.

Take advantage of the right CAD software

CAD software is a powerful form of prototyping that allows businesses and professionals alike to rapidly produce initial designs, and then iterate on them with ease. Of course, CAD software users should always consider using the right tools, such as SOLIDWORKS.

This is proven CAD software that's capable of delivering the functionality users require, whilst adding additional functions. The Simulation package, for example, allows users to investigate various components or designs by exposing them to a variety of conditions.

Certainly, it's difficult to match the sheer versatility of SOLIDWORKS.