Altium 365 – how MCAD and ECAD can end up competing on cloud platforms.

Altium 365 – how MCAD and ECAD can end up competing on cloud platforms.

Earlier this week, I shared news about Altium announcing future availability of Altium 365 – new cloud based platforms to support collaboration between engineering and manufacturing organizations. If you missed my earlier article, please check this link.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend Altium Live event this year, but online technologies are doing magics these days and I was able to watch materials and keynote session online. Check the following link to watch  – Introducing Altium 365: The Connected Future of PCB Design with the live demo presented by Leigh Gawne of Altium.

The focus on Alitum 365 is collaboration and I found it very much intertwined with the ideas presented by cloud based collaboration platforms such as Autodesk 360, 3DXperience, Solid Edge Portal and few others.

Marketing is funny thing. I find it a bit ironic that Altium used the same name “Nexus“, Autodesk used back in 2012 to introduce Autodesk cloud PLM platform. Autodesk ended up calling product PLM 360. Altium is coming with Altium 365. But I digressed…  the technology is more important.

Watch the demo (the video is a bit long, but check it out).

Printed Circut Design & Fab article provided an interesting wrteup of the presentation in the article AltiumLive: Empathy Sparking PCB Design Innovation:

Included in an Altium Designer subscription, Altium 365 is a convenient way to collaborate that doesn’t involve changing tools. It’s a cloud-based platform with a 3-D viewer of finished boards that connects design to the manufacturing floor.

About Altium 365, I repeatedly heard, “It’s just there. It just works.” It was even called magic. It can be accessed with any browser any time with no downloads. “You don’t have to understand Altium Designer to use it,” said Leigh Gawne, Altium’s director of Ciiva, cloud applications and platform, and “it has the ability to trace a part.”  On the righthand side of the screen, users can make comments that then show up in the design. It’s a single application on multiple platforms. Users can connect various MCAD tools and keep ECAD synchronized with MCAD.

The end game, Romine and Ted Pawela, Altium’s COO, pointed out, is to eliminate re-spins and connect design, parts and procurement. Altium’s goal is to enable better bidirectional communication between designers and manufacturers. According to Romine, eight percent of Altium users have no mechanical constraints, while 83% design multi-board systems, and 85% are responsible for their own libraries.

I found interesting how Altium is solving exactly the same problem MCAD and PLM vendors are focusing in the their cloud platforms. It made me think about trajectory of adoption of these platforms by manufacturing organizations. In the past, siloed organization adopted MCAD and ECAD tools. Nowadays, new cloud platforms are aiming to solve the problem of collaboration. How these cloud platforms will collaborate between themselves? How many cloud platforms each organization will need. It is sounds like a potential place for a future friction and competition.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing organizations are experiencing challenges of communication and collaboration. Located all over the world – engineers are expecting to work collaboratively to share data and communicate in real time. Cloud-based platforms are actually coming to solve these problems. In the past, MCAD and ECAD vendors were able to say each in its own silo. Not any more. It seems like an era of collaboration and cloud platforms can introduce a new aspect of competition between MCAD and ECAD based cloud platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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


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