For many years, to have CAD system installed on a very powerful workstation was the only option to design something in 3D. Even after been replaced by much more affordable Windows machine, the need to have it “installed” was an absolute requirements. For the last few years, “cloud” CAD development got in a full swing and we can see many option for “cloud” CAD systems.
However, word “cloud” doesn’t mean much and became a buzzword – you can see different versions of CAD. From my view, there are 3 options – “full cloud” (almost branded by Onshape), cloud-enabled CAD and hosted version of CAD. Check my blog for earlier articles – CAD and cloud marketing controversy and Future cloud CAD normalization.
Here are few examples of cloud CAD options – Onshape (you only need your browser to use it). However you need to use mobile app to use it on iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device. There is cloud-enabled Fusion 360, which requires installation, but store data on cloud servers (and support offline mode in network is not available). And there are existing desktop CAD systems such as Solidworks and Solid Edge that use cloud to store licenses and user configuration parameters. Of course you can host any desktop CAD on cloud hosted desktop, but it has nothing to do with CAD system itself.
I learned about new option called Shapr3D. I’ve heard about the company before, but yesterday’s announcement caught my attention with their catchy phrase – Design everywhere. Store locally.
Shapr3D is a CAD system, which runs on iPad Pro. The announcement says it integrates Parasolid and HOOPS Exchange to allow solid modeling and data translation locally within the app. By integrating these two technologies with Shapr3D’s precision touch screen interface, engineering and design professionals now have the power of desktop modeling on a tablet, the iPad Pro
Navigate your browser here to learn more. My favorite passage is this one:
One of the big differences between Shapr3D and other mobile CAD tools is that everything runs locally on the iPad Pro. There is no pushing files or rendering jobs up to cloud, and it also runs offline without an internet connection. There is no cloud storage, all data is stored and secure on your iPad Pro. Shapr3D is compatible with all major CAD software and is ideal for 3D printing.
It made me think about the trajectory of CAD development coming back to more powerful devices and now it is mobile device. It is reminded me how CAD development moved from UNIX workstation to PC and later to Windows environment. Mobile device can offer an interesting combination of power and independence. I can see an interesting opportunity to turn it into individual design tool. It is not clear to me how Shapr3D will solve a problem of data exchange and collaboration with other people. My hunch data stored locally can be translated and transferred to other CAD. Shapr3D website suggests it can transfer to any CAD, but I had no chance to try it in real life (need to find iPad Pro to try it out).
Data can come from 2 different sources:
and later transferred to other CAD systems or 3D print.
What is my conclusion? Cloud marketing always used the world “design anywhere” or “access anywhere”. With Sharp3D I can see a new variation of “design anywhere” option. It is clearly not following a traditional path of professional CAD systems and focusing on a new device iPad Pro device. Such device has its own audience and can be an easy target to start with. I’m sure technologies developed by Shapr3D is transferable to other “pencil” enable platforms and it is just a matter of time and resources when it can be available for Windows and Android based mobile devices. So, CAD world might have another option for CAD in 21st century. Just my thoughts…
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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.