In our annual poll of executives at leading CAD and virtual prototyping software companies, optimism about the market in 2011 was widespread. Trends predicted to favorably impact the CAD market this year include new capabilities for cloud computing, online CAD, mobile applications, and other technologies designed to help users be more productive with easier-to-use tools.

Rochelle agrees that an investment in new technology is key. “Our customers tell us that since the downturn began, many jobs have gone away, and they are being asked to take more cost out of current products, and drive more innovation with fewer resources. So, this requires them to invest in new technologies for their design communities, such as simulation, visualization, and electrical controls design.” He added that, “you have to squeeze more out of your existing product lines. Small teams are responsible for not just design and engineering, but for really great visualization so the idea gets to production.”

“What our customers really ask for are ways to speed up and streamline everyday tasks that make up the bulk of their work, and to deal with the challenges of engineering in one location and manufacturing in another,” explained Ray. “At the same time, we recognize the fact that engineers are constantly expected to address more aspects of the complete product design.”


According to Shepherd, doing more with less means PTC needs to enable them to be as creative and efficient as possible in the product design process. “To do this, we need to deliver technology that gives our customers the right tool for the right user, at the right time. This enables everyone in the organization to participate in the product development process and can result in unlocking new ideas, creativity, and personal efficiency.” But, Shepherd added, it can’t stop there. “People need more than just the right tool — they need the flexibility to switch between modeling paradigms, the ability to incorporate data from any CAD system, and the power and scalability needed to create, validate, and reuse information for highly configured products.”

Trends for 2011

While the past year has been focused on recovery, this year the focus is on innovation and new technology. New trends in social media, cloud computing, online CAD, advanced computer hardware, and affordability are in the forefront for 2011.

“The big news last year is that all the major vendors — pressed by their customers — finally recognized that their CAD tools are not able to deliver usable 3D to engineers and other non-CAD experts,” stated Randles. “The self-serving mantra of a single CAD tool for all is something of the past. 3D will become increasingly pervasive.”

Said Staples, “While the economy is still struggling, it has shown significant signs of recovery from a year ago. Companies continue to selectively invest in technology that can make them more competitive. Manufacturers will continue to push for ways to be more efficient without complex systems that require a lot of training and overhead.”


Hirsch added that an important trend for 2011 is being able to harness the massive amount of data generated by IT tools throughout product development, and to leverage that data. “Product development organizations need a way to quickly visualize a situation at any moment in time. A CAD model provides an image of the product, but the need exists to dive deeper into the information behind the geometry to evaluate how the product will perform, what it will cost to produce, and what it will take to manufacture it.”

Leveraging data also involves accessibility to the data, and managing the tools — both software and hardware — necessary to access it. “The trends that will have the greatest impact are based on the core values of accessibility and affordability,” said Grayson. “These include powerful, low-cost laptops; pervasive, high-bandwidth Internet connections; free and low-cost business and personal productivity solutions; low-cost design and analysis software; and access to low-cost and scalable manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers and outsourced manufacturing services.”

For Rochelle, software platforms are a major trend for 2011. “Users are increasingly mobile and using mobile apps and devices, and there are new generations of design software users with different expectations of design software. They expect zero learning curve interaction.” Cloud computing, he said, will continue to grow in importance. “Our view is that desktop software and online services will interact, and the lines between desktop applications and Web applications will blur.”

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