CAD Strategies: Unified Or Diversified?

In my view, summer time is good for vacations, research papers and strategic projects. During the summer, you are always have an excuse to stop, think and do something unusual. This is also time to clean up emails and feeds. I read a new research paper just published by Jim Brown of TechClarity: Consolidating CAD – Strategic Advantages at Reduced Cost. I found it interesting. Jim’s conclusion is simple – consolidate your CADs, cut cost, reduce complexity, improve collaboration. It sounds very straightforward and simple. Nevertheless, some latest publications made me think that such a decision might be more complex. I’d like to propose to discuss it more and take a look on different perspectives of CAD unification decision.

Historical Status Quo

The status quo of engineering and manufacturing companies these days is multiple CAD systems. For different reasons, people are using different CADs. Usually, it was a result of historical decisions, old/new projects, M&A activities and some others. Large OEMs have a tendency to choose different CAD system also due to decisions taken by divisions. Suppliers are influenced by their work for multiple OEMs and also can consider various CAD options as sometime very reliable. In addition, cost factor is another reason why organizations can make their decision to diversify CAD packages.

Technological Trends

I can identify several important trends that can influence customer decision related to CAD system usage: (1) 3D direct modeling; (2) Openness; (3) Cloud.

3D Direct modeling
During last few years, we have seen a significant innovative activity so-called direct 3D modeling vs. parametric design. New and existing companies focused on direct 3D modeling drove established vendors to make acquisitions or made a significant development in this space.

This is not a completely new trend. Openness and interoperability have been very popular many years. My view, is that during the past couple of years, there is a renaissance of "openness discussion" driven by web development and open source related activities.

This is another very popular trend. What will happen when/if CAD will be moving to the cloud? How to leverage cloud technology? There are lots of discussions about this topic recently happened in blogs, industry and vendor’s conferences.

PTC and the Future of MCAD
We are all waiting for PTC Lightning strike in October. A good review of what PTC is thinking about made by SolidSmack. Navigate to this link. Also, take a look on the following slide from PTC about this project – The Right Solution For Every User.

We don’t know for sure, what PTC is preparing as part of their new project. However, I can see a glimpse of thinking about tools’ diversification. You can read some "un-answered" questions about this project in Deelip’sblog.

SpaceClaim 3D – Not Only For Engineers
Navigate to the following link – SpaceClaim 2010 Externds to Non-Engineering Groups. You can see a definite interest of SpaceClaim to propose more diversification into 3D CAD usage in organizations.

Conclusion and Future Thinking

The advantages of a single tool and value proposition made by Jim in his research is clear for me. However, to implement unified CAD strategy can be complicated and long process. As an alternative, CAD vendors can propose new potential solutions to solve old problems – open/free tools, cloud products, various tools’ diversification that can make customers think more about the CAD strategies.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


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  • I don’t think multiple software is necessarily a problem, aslong as there is a good workflow in place.

  • Vladimir Malukh

    A good example of CAD usage in non-engineering departments is furniture sales. Here almost 80% furniture shops do use 3D to “assemble” furniture sets right in the face of buyer, to select color, materials, accessories, appliances, calculate the price. Most frequently used programs are local bCAD (my former company, and BASIS, sometimes – SketchUp. Those assemblies contain full BIM about the product and then are passed directly to manufacturing shops – around 75% of furniture in Russia is made by custom projects.


  • Kevin, thanks for your comment. I agree with you, to have a right process organization is a very important. Jim’s point, in my view, actually is when you have a single CAD package, the organization of a good workflow is a much easier task. However, as I posted, it comes with other challenges and disadvantages as well. Best, Oleg

  • Vladimir, Thanks for this example. I believe, this is far from mainstream auto-/aero- examples. However, if I’m thinking about potential growth, this may be a new field for 3D CAD… Best, Oleg