How new manufacturing will impact CAD & PLM

How new manufacturing will impact CAD & PLM


The world is changing. The power of manufacturing industries in the past was predicted by money, manufacturing facilities, assembly lines with workers and expensive equipment combined with advantages of mass production manufacturing model.

Now take a deep breath, close Facebook app on your smartphone – things are going to change. 3D printers, new electronic, cloud technologies and data platforms are going to change the world of manufacturing forever.

My attention caught by the article – Why Hardware Startup Matter. The following passage is my favorite. It quotes John Bruner, O’Reilly’s IoT and Hardware Director keynote from recent Solid Conference. John explains how new hardware development is becoming agile discipline and how is it different from traditional manufacturing.

…new hardware movement and IoT, claiming hardware is becoming agile. He went on to say that this “practically makes it applicable to a lot of problems.” The impact of the new hardware movement goes well beyond electronics and touches any industry that produces physical goods.

It works twofold: it’s cheap and accessible. Hardware components prices have dropped by 35%. Moreover, they can be produced via platforms such as Shapeways, 3D Hubs, and Fictiv. Purchasing parts online is not only inexpensive, but also highly flexible since all these 3D-printing platforms allow for great customization. So, costs of prototyping are going low thanks to new tools and materials. And so are costs of marketing and distribution.

You don’t need reseller like the local electronics store anymore, given there are platforms such as Amazon and Etsy, or why not even your own website as a primary point for pre-orders and sales. Not no mention crowdfunding: the perfect marriage of funding, sales, and marketing. You can reach people in Asia, in the States as easily as you could people in your own country.


It made me think how the changes in hardware development can impact development of engineering and manufacturing tools. CAD and PLM are two most fundamental category of tools used for design, engineering and manufacturing planning. The complexity of these tools is skyrocketing. It is like embedded programming in the past – only highly skilled engineers were able to do so. Today, you can program embedded devices using Java Script. Here is just one example how to do so – Node.js for embedded software. I can see similar changes making impact on CAD and PLM tools. The software will be more web friendly, won’t require complex installation and implementation cycle. New tools will protect users from unnecessarily complication related to upgrades and maintenance.

I can see a beginning of this trend in the last development of CAD and PLM tool. I can bring few examples. In CAD domain – Autodesk Fusion360 (integrated cloud enabled environment for CAD, CAM, simulation and more), Onshape (full cloud CAD in a browser), Upverter (electronic and hardware design platform). The trend towards removing complexity and upgrades is clear for PLM tools as well – Aras (upgrades are included in subscription), Arena Solutions (the oldest SaaS PLM), Autodesk PLM360 (cloud only PLM system).

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing is changing. It will demand new tools that can fit a new eco-system of hardware manufacturers, component suppliers, contractors and individual makers. The systems that need 20 months to get installed and implementation is not an option anymore. This is where things can go big. Engineering and manufacturing software will have to learn from the experience of social network, online payment and on-demand transportation application to become agile in a new world of manufacturing networks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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