CAD Tech News (#61)

5 Apr, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ CAD in the Cloud: Modest Adoption Levels Persist

According to a recent survey by Business Advantage, 15% of companies worldwide are using the technology and another 12% are considering it.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

CAD in the cloud. For some CAD professionals, the term incites rebellion — an "I will never" declaration at the mere mention of handing over control of mission-critical software and proprietary data to an outside party. At the other end of the spectrum, users at small companies rejoice: Top-notch tools that were once out of reach financially are now improving workflows and helping grow business, thanks to subscription-based cloud access.

Somewhere between the anger-tinged backlash and the software vendors' tales of happy customers lies reality — but the big picture isn't easy to discern amongst all the noise. That's where a recent survey comes to the rescue: "CAD in the Cloud 2017" from Business Advantage provides a detailed look at current use of cloud-based CAD software and plans for future adoption. The conclusion: About half of companies worldwide are using, implementing, or considering cloud-based CAD, with the highest level of interest and implementation coming from the Asia–Pacific region (APAC).

Worldwide cloud-based CAD adoption. (Source: "CAD in the Cloud 2017," by Business Advantage)
Worldwide cloud-based CAD adoption. (Source: "CAD in the Cloud 2017," by Business Advantage)

Who Is Using Cloud-Based CAD?

Business Advantage is known in the CAD market for its annual "CAD Trends" survey, which examines use of CAD-related software and hardware technologies, including CAD in the cloud. This time around, the global market researcher decided to expand on the knowledge gathered from "CAD Trends 2016" and dive more deeply into cloud-based CAD. An online survey conducted in December 2016 drew 203 responses from a range of job titles, company sizes, and industry sectors in 25 countries, all of whom claimed some knowledge of and/or experience with cloud-based CAD. Results were released in a webinar on March 30.

Approximately 15% of companies are using or implementing CAD in the cloud solutions, according to the survey, and 12% are considering implementation in the next year or beyond. Another 22% are still evaluating it, leaving 17% that have evaluated and rejected cloud-based CAD and 33% that are aware of but have never investigated solutions.

"APAC is most likely to have adopted or to be in the process of implementing CAD in the cloud," vs. Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) and the Americas, said Chris Turner, CEO and managing director of Business Advantage. "EMEA companies are most likely to have basic awareness of the technology, however, with no further investigation or consideration having taken place at this time." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is the content director for Longitude Media, publisher of Cadalyst.

▶ NX Module Adds New Generative Design Capabilities to Venerable MCAD Platform

Frustum and Siemens PLM Software join forces to bring topology optimization technology into the product design and manufacturing solution.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

A new partnership will enable designers to apply generative design technology from Frustum while working in the NX platform from Siemens PLM Software. Frustum, whose Generate cloud-based solution came on the scene last year, will provide NX users with topology optimization for additive manufacturing via a plug-in module.

This development is the latest in a concentrated effort by Siemens to build end-to-end additive manufacturing solutions. It also nudges generative design — the use of software to automatically create multiple design iterations that meet a particular set of requirements — a little further into the mainstream design world.

Topology optimization is a type of generative design technology that determines the most efficient use of material, while still meeting goals set by the designer. For example, topology optimization software can trim away unnecessary material and reshape support structures to create designs for aircraft components that are lighter than their traditional counterparts, but just as strong and rigid — or even more so.

The beta testing group had strong representation from industries that value weight reduction, including aerospace, automotive, and motorsports. But the appeal of generative design capabilities reaches far beyond those companies, according to Jesse Coors-Blankenship, Frustum CEO. "Anybody that's interested in design is going to be interested in experimenting with some form of generative design ... it's very broadly applicable." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

▶ Viewpoint: Prepare for Ongoing CAD Training Needs

Keeping up with new software capabilities requires long-term effort on the part of CAD managers and users.

By Tony Glockler

Because no one has endless time, CAD managers have to weigh multiple factors when determining which tools and resources they will provide to their team. CAD managers may feel that they have to hold off on implementing additional software capabilities or new applications, and miss out on powerful feature enhancements, because they fear the downtime needed for training will delay project deadlines. Or they may be under pressure to skimp on training after an implementation, leaving users unprepared to work with maximum efficiency.

The CAD manager's challenge is figuring out how to maintain a competitive edge using the most appropriate tools, while not spending so much time training on said tools that users can't complete their work. Managers often have to justify both direct budget and time allocation to upper management, who may be focused on short-term goals instead of long-term productivity.

When considering training options, the best scenario is to provide an in-depth classroom training experience coupled with an ongoing learning program to continue to develop skills. However, upper management may think of training as a one-time event and expense. Return-on-investment (ROI) calculators can be helpful in justifying training budget, demonstrating how much time is saved by using the CAD software more effectively and having an on-demand reference source for when users get stuck. To continue to budget for ongoing learning year after year, track the team's progress to show quantifiable improvement and continued time savings. Read more »

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Tony Glockler is CEO of SolidProfessor.


AutoCAD Video Tips: Access Your Favorite AutoCAD Commands Quickly
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Exploring the Navisworks User Interface
This Pluralsight tutorial walks new users through the various components of the Autodesk Navisworks 2016 interface. Watch the video »

CAD Manager Colum: A Peek at the Future of AutoCAD
Autodesk's technology preview event provides clues about whether the long-lived application will continue, and if so, how it will develop. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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