“In the past, the design process began as an idea that turned into a sketch on paper. From there, the design was forged into a physical object — often using 3D printing. Computer-aided Design (CAD) came in later. Now, the product design often begins with CAD drawings, often in 2D. 3D CAD comes later, and 3D printing often comes in even later in the design process — sometimes not until production. Advances in CAD software, as well as advances in transferring 2D CAD to 3D CAD have helped to automate design, all in the name of productivity and speed to market.
3D printing has shifted roles in early design. Thirty years ago, a 3D printing model often came before the design process moved to CAD. Now, we’re often seeing the 3D-printed product used as validation for a design that is already in CAD.
The ultimate goal of getting the design on the computer early is to speed the process and eliminate the transition from non-computer sketches to CAD. “It’s a matter of developing your products faster, and it’s about doing it thoroughly. So you need to make a seamless link between concept and engineering to improve the development cycle,” Paul Sagar, product manager at PTC, told us.”
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