CAD Check-Up: Is Your Design Software Keeping Up?

Written by: Mike Gayette

What are the common excuses you hear for stubbornly holding onto outdated software?

“It still works, so why replace it?”

“We’re too busy to install updates.”

“You’ll burst the budget.”


Okay, maybe the fourth one isn’t an excuse, but it usually accompanies the top three.

So why does it matter? Look where the product development is today. Augmented reality transforms the way companies conceptualize and build new products. Real-time simulations reduce the costs of physical prototyping. Collaboration and integration are baked into the software itself. The truth is, if your software isn’t keeping up with technological advances like these, your company may be losing time and money.

To catch up, take an honest assessment of your current environment.  Is your software providing you the most up-to-date capabilities and benefits?

Simulation. Can you easily simulate the forces your model will meet in the real world? Your design software should help you find flaws and correct them even before prototyping begins. Early simulation and analysis saves you from reworking and rebuilding endless physical prototypes, which also reduces scrap and rework downstream.

Augmented Reality. Can you summon a fully immersive 3D tour of your work with a single click? Give design reviewers insight into products in ways never before possible, even if they’re thousands of miles away? Augmented reality experiences should be easy to generate and share. Plus, they should be secure from unwelcome viewers.

Concept Design. How hard is it to experiment with your designs? Do you worry about creating messy files or losing data? CAD software should support the exploration of new ideas, and effortlessly toggle between concepts as you consider the pros and cons.

Direct Modeling. While last-minute design changes are never ideal, they are inevitable. You need the ability to modify geometry without losing design intent, no matter how close you are to deadline. Don’t spend your productive time recreating a model when a simple tweak is possible.

Massive Models. Tiny gadgets get the headlines, but large structures are even more demanding. For those building industrial machines, bridges, launch pads, or assembly lines, your CAD system should go the extra mile to help. Make sure your software includes a comprehensive library of materials, structural components, human safety features, etc.

Fasteners. Screws, nuts, bolts, washers, pins, and dowels. Creating these objects individually and placing them in designs is tedious. What you need is a library of common fasteners and automatic, intelligent tracking and placement that helps you avoid errors (and tedium) while building complex models.

Real-time Rendering. Can you work with photorealistic geometry in real time, even as you make changes? For many designers, especially those in consumer products, seeing how a model looks under good lighting and in everyday settings shouldn’t be an afterthought. Real-time rendering lets you explore “look and feel” throughout the design process.

Engineering Calculation Software. Are your calculations driving your designs and vice versa? Up-to-date technology should act like a true digitized engineering notebook, tracking and communicating your calculations. It can even pass data back and forth from model to math worksheet and back again. Best of all, nobody ever has to wonder “how did you get that” number or dimension.

How did your software do?

What used to be leading edge is now a must-have if you want to stay on top of the market. Your competitors are almost certainly using advances like these in their product development already.

But if you’ve fallen behind a little (or a lot) there’s good news. Catching up isn’t as difficult as it may seem. PTC has put together a collection of Design Packages that combine our core 3D CAD software with capabilities like those listed above and more.

A Creo Design Package is an easy subscription that ensures you always have the newest, most optimized CAD tools. See if there’s a package that’s right for you.

See the Creo Design Packages

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Mike Gayette

Mike Gayette is a marketing professional and freelance writer based in North Dakota. He writes about engineering software, marketing technology, customer service, and team building. He also spends time at the local humane society as a dog walker and cat entertainer.