CAD programs are changing rapidly with new functionality, partially due to 3D printing’s capability with respect to shape.

3D PDFs are 3D objects in U3D format inserted into PDF documents and interactively visualized by Acrobat Reader.  This changes the way drafts are shared. New tools guide design engineers to create objects that are manufacturing friendly. And smart storage systems are in place now to let you know the archive contains a pre-designed product that is very similar to the image you’re creating on your screen.

2D Napkin Drawings Still Popular – Because 2D drawing of a product is often the starting place for an idea, many CAD companies have built capabilities to move the drawing from concept drawing into 3D design.

3D Shapes of Things to Come – 3D printing/additive manufacturing has forced CAD to recognize shapes that previously were not considered viable.  Modeling these new shape is difficult when the existing tools are built with an understanding of traditional geometry.

3D PDFs Gain in Popularity –  The compressed file format standard for 3D computer graphics data, U3D, provides the ability to send a copy of a 3D drawing in a PDF file that can be opened by anyone. 

Put Everything in the CAD Drawing – The CAD model is also becoming the single instance of the truth for the product. All relevant data can be attached to the CAD file instead of having it collected as separate files.

Machines are Learning How to Design – Machine learning is becoming a facet of CAD design. The CAD system will examine work that the design engineer is performing and see ways to shorten the work by using existing drawings. The CAD system learns from the data management platform by looking at what you’re doing figure out what you’re about to create.

CAD Is Built for Collaboration – Sharing data files is also becoming part of the new world of CAD. If the CAD drawing also contains data related to regulations or BOM lists, it needs to be easily shared with people outside the design process. Companies need an efficient and effective way to share data in an automated and secure environment.

The Customer Is in on CAD Advances – So how do CAD producers figure out what their customers need? Many create sharing forums to find out the issues their customers have with CAD systems or with design challenges in general. CAD providers understand they can’t take all their direction from customers.

> Read more by Rob Spiegel, Design News, 8/17/16

Changes in CAD Functionality Keep Coming