Conka Design, a startup product design company headed by a group of recent college graduates, recently announced production of its Spiderpodium, a structural product designed to work with the iPhone, supporting it through a variety of uses. The arachnid-like, flexible product can support an iPhone in a stationary setting or suspend it, for instance, from the headrest of a car's passenger seat, according to Wales Online.
The company also does design work using 3D computer aided design. Conka managing director Dan Ashman told the source that the company has done design and advertising work for Microsoft, Pfizer, Bombay Sapphire and Arsenal FC, among others, and credits a fair amount of success to the positive reception the company experienced because of the Spiderpodium, which was featured on an entrepreneurial reality television program.
"For Microsoft we worked on the advert where they go into houses and turn them into a PC store," Ashman said. "They sent us photos of those people’s houses and we designed the store to go into that house. They took our 3D CAD work and used it to manufacture the set."
Careers in CAD are wide ranging, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are expected to see a variable amount of percentage increase in employment by 2018. Some creative CAD fields, the BLS notes, may see a 14 percent employment increase.
With the emergence of cloud-based computer aided design software, Technavio recently reported that its researchers project the CAD software market to see a compound annual growth rate of about 10.4 percent. Dassault Systemes, the company that produces SolidWorks CAD software, is expected to experience significant gains.
While the implementation of cloud-based CAD software and other technical advances are set to reduce the cost of software acquisition and usage, analysts at the source caution that comparatively high training costs and diminishing investment in CAD software could negatively impact the projected gains.
A recent ZDNet article noted that several major CAD software companies were considering working with Apple to develop a cloud based CAD platform, though the plans are still only in the initial stages.
"For Apple to succeed in the engineering sector it will need more than a great platform," James Scalpa, CEO of Altair, told ZDNet. "They will need to work with the IT groups of the companies in this space and they will need to support the ISVs as well. HP, IBM, Sun, Intel and Microsoft, to their credit, have always understood and embraced this."
According to Control Engineering, the Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation recently announced the release of SolidWorks Education Edition 2011-12, its newest software. The educational version of the popular 3D computer aided design software will feature streamlined and advanced tutorials as well as free access to exams that establish students as Certified SolidWorks Associates. The certification exams are stratified, and advanced certifications allow teachers to administer official CSWA tests.
"Training the next generation of engineers and designers is critical to the success of industry, as it relies on innovation and evolution," Sharon Toh, the General Manager of South Asia SolidWorks, told the source. "Students are very hands-on, and giving them access to design tools when and where they choose ensures that the creative flow isn't hampered by lack of access. We hope that we can enable students worldwide at every level to grow into design engineers with a bright future ahead."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most jobs in engineering fields require at least a bachelor's degree, and upper level teaching, design and management jobs often call for specialized graduate training. Engineers offer services directly to the public must be licensed by fulfilling a number of educational and professional requirements and passing a state mandated exam.
Jonah Takagi, one-time bassist in a number of rock outfits and a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, found an interesting outlet in furniture design, says the New York Times.
Takagi began teaching himself the basics of computer aided design while touring, and has segued his skills into a career designing modern lamps, tables and shelving. His work, which retails between $500 and $2500 on his website, is informed by minimalistic urban motifs.
Though he doesn't generally meld his audio and design talents, Takagi told the news source that he's fascinated by the possibilities of the point where design and sound intersect, pointing out that it's difficult to find audio equipment that looks as good as it sounds, and that most stereos are little more than black boxes.
Takagi respects the work of audio equipment designers who put effort into the graphic and spatial quality of their products, but notes that the technological complexities of audio equipment design, at least at the moment, keep him from designing stereo systems himself.
As a CAD designer, Takagi is part of a burgeoning work force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for designers are expected to grow by 4 percent by 2018, employing some 262,500 individuals.
GrabCAD, a startup company based in Tallin, Estonia, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, is looking to make its mark on the computer aided design market by developing a social network for CAD professionals and enthusiasts, according to Xconomy.
GrabCAD, currently in beta testing, features a live feed of designs similar to those popularized by Facebook, as well as a catalogued library of designs from architectural renderings to electronic and automotive models. Website members can upload, view and download CAD plans made with a variety of software programs like SolidWorks.
Recently, Grabcad unveiled plans to allow companies to host design competitions on the website, allowing users to tackle specific design and engineering challenges. Winners may receive cash prizes, and the contests drive the freelance CAD industry, encouraging forward-thinking and innovative design. CAD renderings available on the website currently include everything from motorcycles to incandescent lightbulbs, and serve a variety of purposes.
Initially met with skepticism by critics who believed the site would attract only users who develop impractical designs, GrabCAD is now home to more than 20,000 designers and is worth a reported $1.1 million, according to TechCrunch.
Estonia has seen a significant tech boom since the debut of Skype, the internet video and phone service designed by Estonian software engineers in Tallin in 2003.
A new, interactive website designed by engineers at Cornell University allows users to create three dimensional objects using the principles of evolutionary genetics, according to PhysOrg. The website, EndlessForms.com uses computer aided design technology to render three dimensional objects that are a byproduct of "parent" objects selected by the user.
The algorithms, developed by Jeff Clune, Jason Yosinski and Eugene Doan, researchers at Hod Lipson's Cornell Creative Machines lab, are modeled after biological interactions gleaned from studies of animal and plant genetics.
As users continue to select rendered objects, the designs continue to evolve, while users collaborate and publish their designs and can export the files to independent 3D printing outfits to create physical models of their creations.
"These new design tools free people to focus on being creative, instead of being mired in the details of technical software," Lipson said.
CAD software and 3D printing are two of the most-up-and-coming design and production avenues across a number of fields,ac ranging from engineering drafting and design to the creative arts and now even life sciences. Many analysts believe that the future of CAD and 3D printing will be determined by novel uses like those used by researchers at Cornell.
Designers at Bresslergroup recently debuted a new CleanCut touchless paper towel holder. The prototype, designed with SolidWorks computer-aided design software, went through a series of virtual designs before it reached the physical production stage, a process that the designers say saved time, resources and money, according to Design World.
"The ease of the user interface makes it a good tool for our industrial designers to use for design concept and form development," said Dave Schiff, the director of Bresslergroup's engineering department. "By using it to build multiple bodies within a given part, it is possible for design intent to be captured in the 'master model,' and then export child parts for detailing."
Schiff also noted that the software allowed designers to visualize parts dynamically to run tests and optimize movement, a process that, when performed virtually, reduces the number of physical prototypes necessary, saving resources.
3D rendering software such as SolidWorks is central for many mechanical engineers, a profession expected to see a growth rate of about 6 percent over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A new app designed specifically for Apple's iPad allows users to view and notate computer-aided design files in real-time with collaborators. The software is compatible with a number of CAD platforms, including SolidWorks, and gives designers access to large CAD files over a mobile network via the cloud, according to Market Watch.
Designed by CadFaster, the app is available for purchase or through a free two week trial. While the app doesn't offer the encompassing design capabilities that CAD software on a computer does, it's designed to let designers access plans on the go, and is useful, for example, for an architect who may need to look at plans updated from the office while he or she is on a job site. The app provides real-time document sharing between parties.
"Unlike traditional viewers that are often very slow on mobile applications and require a large amount of internal memory to open a stored file, the CadFaster mobile app allows users to easily and almost instantly view models that are exported from CAD programs using the CadFaster Collaborate plug-in," said Raimo Kuismin, CadFaster's Chairman.
The app is a step forward in an industry that constantly expands via new technology. 3D printing and advances in 3D rendering technology have shaped the design marketplace in recent years, and cloud services have changed the way professionals communicate and do business around the world.
One of the most useful and more advanced features of SolidWorks is Flow Simulation, which allows users to simulate design fluid dynamics across a 3D CAD model. Fluid dynamics represent some of the most critical computations of many mechanical designs, and fluid pressure, flow and heat transfer simulations are key to an effective design.
SolidWorks allows users to run virtual tests that analyze the nuances of fluids in a working machine, right down to the effects of humidity on components, and a firm understanding of the software's uses and capabilities is crucial to getting the most out of designs. SolidProfessor, a SolidWorks Solution partner, recently announced the debut of its SolidWorks Flow Simulation training course software, designed to teach users how to optimize SolidWorks' fluid dynamics capabilities.
“It’s always been our goal to create learning resources that help SolidWorks users maximize the value of their software. I’m extremely proud of our team’s effort in creating this course, which goes far beyond the picks and clicks, and even explains much of the background and theory of computational fluid dynamics from a conceptual level," said SolidProfessor Product Manager Jason Wright.
As virtual testing technology continues to improve so does the job market for drafters and designers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for designers are expected to grow by 4 percent by 2018, employing some 262,500 individuals. Just about all of these professionals will need to be well versed in various forms of 3D CAD design software.
Although many may not know it, 3D CAD software has had a significant impact on their daily lives.
Dassault Systems North America managing director Al Bunshaft, in a recent interview with Boston.com, explained that 3D CAD software has evolved over the years to become a pivotal technology in the design and construction of much of today's infrastructure.
"[3D CAD is] not obsolete, but we’ve come a long, long way since we started using it in the 1980s. We think of CAD as designing planes, trains and automobiles. But now we’re using 3D to understand and manage traffic flow in cities, and study and reconstruct the site of the pyramids in Egypt," Bunshaft told the news provider. "The world we live in is 3D, and now we can create virtual, synthetic worlds that can fool us into thinking that they are real."
Going forward, 3D CAD design will become a household item, Bunshaft added. He said consumers will be able to use the technology "to experience many more products at home before you buy."
Many in the industry believe 3D design technology will go mainstream in the next few years, including market research firm Gartner, which put 3D printing in its latest hype cycle report.
Pankl Aerospace was recently recognized as Inventor of the Month for its innovative use of CAD manufacturing technology. The company used the software to streamline and improve the manufacture of rotary systems for helicopters, performing a number of digital checks and tests on components with the program rather than troubleshooting post-production.
Pankl's process begins when it receives 3D models of components from first-level manufacturers. These models are uploaded into Pankl's system and run through a series of digital tests, then rendered both in 3D and 2D - a step that helps facilitate communication with physical technicians.
Pankl, a Cerritos, California-based company, produces components for aircraft transmissions, engines, fuel systems and landing gear for airplanes and helicopters. Using the digital prototyping methods it has employed, Pankl is able to improve production speed and efficiency, providing its customers with well-tested products while saving time and money by circumventing the cost of repetitive real-world tests and revisions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for drafters - the majority of whom use CAD systems in civil, electronic and mechanical fields - are expected to grow by 4 percent by 2018, employing some 262,500 individuals.
As more innovative manufacturing and design projects gain mainstream attention, sales of CAD software are expected to grow steadily on a global basis.
Specifically, in the Asia/Pacific region, CAD software sales are expected to grow at a 10.4 percent compound annual growth rate from 2010 to 2014, according to Technavio. Citing growing demand for product design and development tools among companies worldwide, the report claims that the use of CAD software is a result of the global pursuit of cost-reducing solutions.
"Product design is the one of the key areas of focus for the manufacturing industry. It is estimated that 80 percent of the entire product cost depends on the product design," a Technavio research analyst said in a press release. "The use of CAD software to effectively design components helps to reduce [maintenance, repair and overhaul] and related expenses during the production cycle."
SolidWorks CAD software, specifically, is driving more companies to the technology. One expert, Geometric's director of product marketing and sales Sunil Palrecha, said SolidWorks has emerged as a go-to for manufacturing companies looking to compress delivery time and reduce inefficiency.
With many in the manufacturing industry looking to streamline operations through new technology, SolidWorks 3D CAD design software is emerging as the industry standard, according to one expert.
Sunil Palrecha, director of product marketing and sales for Geometric, recently addressed the current state of manufacturing technology in preparation for his upcoming presentation at the Interactive Manufacturing eXperience show in Las Vegas. At the event, Palrecha will display his company's new SolidWorks solution.
"In the current global scenario, manufacturing companies are searching for ways to automate their processes, compress delivery times and reduce inefficiencies," Palrecha said. "In order to achieve these goals, they are looking for novel solutions for trapping manufacturing errors early in the design stage, and for effective collaboration between design and manufacturing. This can be easily facilitated by using an integrated SolidWorks solution."
The three-day event will showcase some of the latest innovations in 3D design software, with automatic manufacturing processes a main theme.
Experts throughout the industry have touted SolidWorks 3D design software as an essential tool in the modern manufacturing industry. An official with NKK Switches, a switching provider, recently announced the company has doubled the number of CAD downloads on its site since adopting SolidWorks.