3D/PLM and iPad: Future or Baloney?

3D/PLM and iPad: Future or Baloney?

I just discovered one interesting fact. Exactly, a year ago, on Jan 28th, I published my first blog post about iPad – Who can generate 3D/PLM content for iPad? A year passed since that time. In addition, earlier this week I wrote about SolidWorks n!Fuze. n!Fuze is a new collaborative cloud application from Dassault SolidWorks Corp. An update from SolidWorks World 3rd day- SolidWorks is planning to make n!Fuze iPad application available later this year.

iPad Apps Gold Rush

The number of mobile and specifically iPad apps is growing. Below I put few links on videos presenting some of the most notable applications I had a chance to see for the last months. Autodesk and Dassault made iPad apps part of their portfolios. Siemens PLM relies on the partner to provide iPad app. PTC announced the mobile version of PTC Arbotext. Aras also worked with partner Porchys to provide a mobile version of Aras Innovator. However, I haven’t seen iPad apps on their list. In addition, I wanted to specially noted CADFaster collaborative app for iPad. I’m sure this list of iPad apps is not exhaustive. Send me links to 3D/PLM iPad apps as well as other iPad apps that relevant in the context of engineering and manufacturing.


DS 3DVia Mobile

Autodesk Inventor Publisher

SolidWorks n!Fuze

SolidWorks n!Fuze iPad app first look from Solidsmack on Vimeo.

Arbotext Service Information Solution

TeamCenter on iPad


Mobile Becomes a New Laptop

A decade ago, laptops provided a first step in the mobility. Today laptops are displacing desktops not only on engineering desks, but also for kids and everyday home computer. I bought my last desktop 4 years ago. Today, laptops become too heavy to hold and carry. iPad is a proper size, and most of the people prefer iPad-size-like-device or even smaller iPhone or Android device. According to numbers of iPass Mobile Workforce Report 2010, 27.4% of people think iPad can replace laptop for general business use. The same report predicts rise of mobilocracy with corporates globally.

What is my conclusion? iPad and “new tablets” are creating a new device niche. New iPad apps provide us capabilities and user experience we have never seen before. It will take few more years until iPad gold rush will be transformed into valuable business apps, but I definitely can see some of them becomes a reality in Engineering and Manufacturing world. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Gideon Paull

    I agree that tablets will become a key delivery mechanism for 3D content and collaboration (just the power pack to my laptop weighs more than the laptop I had 5 years ago!), however I don’t believe that that delivery mechanism will necessarily be the iPad, if only for the reason that it doesn’t run some key software components that are prevalent in most PLM environments. These being, Windows or Adobe based technologies – neither of which run on an iPad. iPad will run HTML5 (this is their approach to counter Adobe and MS), however I have yet to see a pure HTML5 application from any of the PLM vendors.

    There are a lot of new tablets, as shown at CES, being released this year to the market. Some of these are more ruggedized models that might be more suited to the shop floor environment or to service and support work in the field (have you ever dropped an iPad?). Most of them run Windows O/S that is immediately capable of supporting existing software. Think 3D PDFs with U3d or PRC, activeX or Silverlight based viewers, Flash/Flex based delivery, etc.
    I have no doubt that tablets will be used very extensible from engineering to maintenance and repair, but I agree that we are still a ways off.

  • No doubt, tablets and yet to be seen lightweight devices will play a significant roll in CAD/PLM. As mentioned above, not sure it will be the ipad specifically as apple tech hasn’t been adopted by the eng community in masses. Not saying it won’t, just hasn’t so far. The eng community is going through a transition that requires a change in mindset. n!Fuze (odd typing that?!), mobile computing and “the cloud” offer significant productivity potentials. Early adopters get it, skeprics will need proof and the close minded will either be forced to adopt or will get left behind.

  • beyondplm

    Gideon, Thanks for your comment! I agree with your point. There are many coming tablets on the market. Android tablets built a huge expectation for 2011. Let see if they can be able to deliver. During the last 6-7 months companies CAD/PLM companies invested significant resources to build solutions on the iPad. I found it interesting and promising. The technologies you mentioned (Adobe Flash, Silver-light and some other) are still around. 2011 will be a critical year for them, in my view, to show they are “in business”. Microsoft Silverlight strategy is not very clear, in my view- http://arstechnica.com/microso…. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Derrek, thanks for sharing your opinion! In my view, engineers are investigating the iPad /Apple technologies. Tablets is not only iPad. However, as it happened with Windows back 20 years ago, the same may happen with iPad/Apple. The question is whom developers will follow. If they will follow Android, the mainstream future can be different. From this standpoint 2011 can be a very interesting year, in my view. Best, Oleg

  • Don Jasurda

    Tablets (including I-Pad) are absolutely relevant. Think about apps like GDM-Web, for Quality Analytics and Reporting, which enables manufacturing & plant engineers to get access to production quality status via a web browser. The more portable the device (think plant floor mobility) the closer the engineer can be to the scene of a problem while having real time access to the data effecting the solution.

  • beyondplm

    Don, thanks for sharing these use cases! Agree with you. The mobility becomes more and more important. best, Oleg