CAD systems are around for many years. Computer-aided design systems went through the trajectory of innovation – some of the innovation in CAD systems was related to core principles of geometric modeling and some others came from usage of modern technologies and platforms. AutoCAD, Pro-E, Solidworks are probably one of the best examples of turning points in CAD industry since 1980s… Database, Internet and related cloud and mobile technologies are bringing new opportunities to CAD development. What will be the next turning point and breaking moment in finding a new approach in design software? The jury is still out, but we can see some possible options and examples.
Engineering.com article Is There A Better Approach to Design Software? brings an example of Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE as a new approach in CAD and design software. The key element introduced by Dassault System is to eliminate files and replace it with database driven approach. Here are few passages from Engineering.com article.
Day suggests that integrated, cloud-based platforms like Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE may be a candidate for solving the problem. 3DEXPERIENCE provides a unified experience for many of Dassault’s design applications like CATIA and SOLIDWORKS for CAD, DELMIA for manufacturing, SIMULIA for analysis, EXALEAD for business intelligence, and more. Effectively, with a software portfolio spanning every aspect of a design company’s needs, platforms like 3DEXPERIENCE attempt to offer more effective collaboration across the design lifecycle. A unified database allows designers to access data with the confidence that it’s the correct version of that data. On top of the database, platforms like 3DEXPERIENCE can offer further tools that facilitate collaboration.
So, if files are bad thing, what to do with huge existing install base of CAD systems. Only Dassault Systemes CATIA and Solidworks are representing more than $2B annual market of CAD systems. According to Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE is solving the problem. Here is an example – Dassault 3DEXPERIENCE PLM Services for CATIA V5. Dassault Systems 3DEXPERIENCE platform is using database platform to manage data.
Onshape is another company that focusing on eliminating files from design process. Onshape is build on a new foundation of cloud-based, browser and database technologies eliminating files completely from the design process. Onshape works entirely in the browser. No files.
Here is the latest Onshape description I took from Onshape website: Your complete cloud product design platform. Data management, CAD, real-time collaboration tools, controls, analytics and integrations to applications and business systems. Many of Onshape features are pretty unique and enabled by newest database and cloud technologies.
Check this video:
Earlier last year, Onsahpe came with new Enterprise version. Engineering.com article made a review of what is in Onshape enterprise. Check out more here.
Onshape introduced a suite of new features aimed at removing design data gridlock. At the same time, the company launched Onshape Professional, a new tier of the CAD platform with exclusive access to some of these new features. This new tier was a first for the company, which had previously divided Onshape into a free version and a paid version. For paying users, Onshape split further into Onshape Standard and Onshape Professional.
What is my conclusion? Onshape and Dassault 3DEXPERINCE are two examples how CAD companies are looking for innovation in mixing of design and collaboration by leveraging data management and web technologies. However, Dassault and Onshape are using different approach and technological stacks. Each one has pros and cons. Dassault Systemes makes 3DX platform compatible with existing file-based CAD systems. Onshape is entirely new platform with great set of unique features, but at the same time creating a distance with existing file-based CAD packages. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased