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Design Engineering: View CAD from a Different Angle

May 20, 2024
The next generation of CAD/CAM/CAE tools will allow designers to view 3D models from different angles before they’re even produced.

An interesting factoid about computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing is that 70% of all 3D mechanical CAD/CAM systems can trace their roots to CAD pioneer Patrick Hanratty’s original code.

In the early ’70s, Dr. Hanratty’s company, Manufacturing and Consulting Service (MCS), produced a CAD/CAM drafting system which unleashed a new generation of design and manufacturing packages. Aptly named, ADAM (automated drafting and machining) was an independent software package built around a business strategy that would be licensed to other companies so they could sell it to end-users. These companies would also provide training and technical support. This operating model arguably has been the backbone for many successful resellers ever since. 

By one estimate, the CAD and PLM software market is projected to reach $26.37 billion by 2030—a jump from $15.47 billion in 2023. Key players—including SAP SE (Germany), Siemens AG (Germany), Autodesk (U.S.), Dassault Systèmes (France), PTC (U.S.) and Oracle Corp. (U.S.)—are increasing cloud-based deployments. The public cloud market is on course to surpass $1 trillion in 2026, according to advisory firm Forrester. This is a development that drives the market forward and extends the ability for small and medium enterprises to purchase unified platform offerings. 

READ MORE: Is Your Technology Innovative Enough to Edge Out the Competition?

Another interesting factoid stemming from Dr. Hanratty’s work is that ADAM would form the basis for the first version of Unigraphics, a CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM suite. Today known as Siemens NX, it should be no wonder ADAM’s offspring leapt ahead once it was acquired by Siemens Digital Industries Software in 2007. 

That much was made clear at a recent Realize Live 2024 in Las Vegas during a media/analyst preview in May, where I made it my business to drill down into the comprehensive features of Siemens NX. 

Designed for tighter integration of the hardware and software, cloud-based platforms such as Siemens NX enable reliability and scalability in ways never before imagined. Siemens’ NX Performance Predictor is a simulation application that empowers designers to test and iterate ideas quickly and helps design engineers make informed decisions before designs proceed to final validation. The innovation results in faster design cycles, reduced costs and fewer physical prototypes. 

READ MORE: SaaS: The Concept of a Single Source of Truth

In other words, the full NX suite of tools shift simulation further left in the development process, according to Jeff Miller, product marketing director at Siemens Digital Industries Software. “We’re bringing an element of simulation into the design phase, where the design engineer can go in and apply some of the basic characteristics about how that part is going to need to perform,” he said during a one-on-one session with Machine Design.

Integrated AI and machine learning technologies can now automate tasks, improve accuracy and optimize designs. For an intriguing immersive engineering example, consider Sony’s new SRH-S1, an extended reality (XR) head-mounted display (HMD) with 4K OLED Microdisplays and a ring controller that allows users to intuitively manipulate 3D objects in virtual space

The HMD is a crucial part of Siemens’ forthcoming NX Immersive Designer solution, featuring promising collaborative product engineering capabilities. On stage at Realize Live, Seiya Amatatsu, head of Sony’s XR Technology Development Division, boasted that Sony was able to improve its design process productivity by 25%. The product is expected to launch at the end of 2024.

It's only a matter of time before the kinks—security, operating speed and Internet dependency—are worked out. The advantages of collaboration, advanced analysis and simulation, along with the ability to access platforms from anywhere ostensibly could lead to faster innovation and time to market. 

Look for us to keep that reporting going. Meanwhile, you will find much more on CAD/CAM/CAE and related software developments in the upcoming May/June issue of Machine Design, as well as on

READ MORE: CAD/CAM Roundup: Engineering Software Productivity Tools and Services

About the Author

Rehana Begg | Editor-in-Chief, Machine Design

As Machine Design’s content lead, Rehana Begg is tasked with elevating the voice of the design and multi-disciplinary engineer in the face of digital transformation and engineering innovation. Begg has more than 24 years of editorial experience and has spent the past decade in the trenches of industrial manufacturing, focusing on new technologies, manufacturing innovation and business. Her B2B career has taken her from corporate boardrooms to plant floors and underground mining stopes, covering everything from automation & IIoT, robotics, mechanical design and additive manufacturing to plant operations, maintenance, reliability and continuous improvement. Begg holds an MBA, a Master of Journalism degree, and a BA (Hons.) in Political Science. She is committed to lifelong learning and feeds her passion for innovation in publishing, transparent science and clear communication by attending relevant conferences and seminars/workshops. 

Follow Rehana Begg via the following social media handles:

X: @rehanabegg

LinkedIn: @rehanabegg and @MachineDesign

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