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SoftwareMedia Blog | July 29, 2014

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The Future Of CAD

The Future Of CAD


Since its humble beginnings that trace all the way back to 1957, Computer Aided Design has become so vast and powerful that its transformation is hard to believe. CAD’s biggest milestone, some might say, was the monumental jump from working in 2 dimensions to 3. Many might have forecast this transition, but there have been hundreds of predictions for the next steps that CAD may take. Here we take a look at some of the strong possibilities that the future holds for computer aided design, and the exciting developments that could be just around the corner…

Virtual World

Huge rigs and testing facilities may soon be a thing of the past.

Up to the present day, there has been a huge increase in the amount of virtual testing and prototyping taking place. There are a countless number of advantages for any company that doesn’t want to knock up a physical model just yet. Virtual prototypes allow for limited capability testing, great aesthetics and physical properties estimations. Companies can toy with color, shape, design and material properties of a product before touching anything solid. This has numerous advantages for both timescale and budget for any industry looking to save a fortune. In the future, virtual testing looks to continue its rapid rise, and heads for the possibility of full virtual prototypes.

Currently, virtual prototyping is only part of the testing process; companies save lots of time and money, but still have to produce a physical test model before the real deal heads out for production. With the advancing material properties and environmental interaction technologies, companies may even head straight from virtual to production in the next 5 years…


One of the most likely next steps for CAD in the not-so-distant future is the end to the battle of formats. Unfortunately, there are so many different programs and applications in the design and manufacturing industries that compatibility has become somewhat of an issue. It’s not uncommon today to have to transfer your 3D model to another program, or maybe even two, before you can render it, manufacture it or animate it in the way you would like. CAD’s future is all about accessibility.

With programs becoming more and more popular, user friendly and accessible to the masses, CAD needs to keep up with social media’s ability to share. Presenting your work to someone else will be as simple as clicking a button. Allowing people to see your model, rotate it, zoom and examine it from an internet browser or embedded viewer will make publicity and social design a big future prospect for CAD. Young designers everywhere will be asking each other: ‘Are you on CAD-book?’

CAD Specialization

For a virtual jeweller, the devil is in the detail.

The CAD industry is becoming more specialized, and it doesn’t show any signs of this changing much in the future. There are a lot of general CAD programs and applications, but these tend to be for low to medium end products where the tools and abilities fulfill everything that the designer needs. The general purpose programs aren’t bad, though, and still produce models of outstanding quality. The specialized industry however, deals with very specific needs and requirements from a designer. For example, a general purpose CAD program might not have the ideal tools and interface to give a jeweler the level of detail or lighting effects he needs. A garden designer or architect may need a far greater range of shades, textures and virtual material properties than someone dealing with just metals and plastics. The future for CAD is taking these individual needs head on, and producing great task oriented programs, while general purpose programs will still continue to improve and expand.

Real Time Ray Tracing

The World Wide Web is currently buzzing about the future of ‘real time ray tracing’. This process is used to create ultra realistic lighting and photo-realistic environments. Not only is it used in computer aided design for product, automotive and engineering, the future of real time ray tracing is also very exciting for the video game industry.

Ironically, at the moment, this fantastic process consumes hardware resources like there’s no tomorrow. The key to its advancement is hardware development. Computer processing and capability must start to increase again, and get through the plateau that it seems to have hit in the last decade. With new technology always in development however, it won’t be long before processing power pushes through, and the full potential of RTRT can be unleashed to dazzle the unsuspecting world. Animation and imaging, and super-realism in full HD could become possible for those running affordable computers.


Living in the modern world means we’re seeing more advancements in technology each year than ever before. Computer aided design is an exciting industry to be in, and the applications of future technology within it leave some mouth-watering possibilities on the horizon. While none of the due dates are at all certain, we do know one thing for sure: that the future of CAD looks clear, fast, and in high definition.

Written by Nathan Griffiths who recommends ArtiCAD software.

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