Cloud-Based CAD Getting Traction
Kyle Maxey posted on July 24, 2015 |
According to Business Advantage’s CAD Trends 2015 survey, cloud-based CAD has the potential to grow rapidly in the next three-to-five years, putting it on par with transformative technologies such as additive manufacturing.

Cloud-based CAD has become part of many larger computer design conversations. The survey reports that cloud-based CAD’s perceived benefits are “higher mobility (66 percent), ease of updating software (45 percent), cost reductions (39 percent) and increased storage capacity (31 percent).”

Despite its benefits, one might be skeptical of the cloud’s potential impact on CAD.

Currently, seven percent of surveyed CAD users operate a cloud-based CAD tool. A couple of years ago, this figure was close to zero. Credit goes to Onshape and Autodesk for its Fusion 360. Though the coming year sees that number growing only a single percentage point, users expect cloud-based CAD software to see a dramatic rise eventually — up 27 percent by 2020.

It is a projection and, like all projections, you should take it with a grain of salt.

Mobile CAD and Cloud-Based CAD

Curiously, the CAD Trends 2015 survey has separated the idea of “mobile access to CAD” from “cloud-based CAD.” Sure, mobile access to CAD could include remoting in to a machine from an offsite locale, or even running CAD on a Microsoft Surface Pro (let’s leave out CAD viewers, as they’re not really CAD), but the reality is that, soon, most CAD packages are going to be hosted in the cloud one way or another. Right now there may be a bit of nuance between the two categories, but I don’t think it will be too long before mobile access to CAD and cloud-based CAD are one and the same. Furthermore, both cloud-based CAD and mobile access to CAD are rated as high-growth sectors of the industry, leading me to believe that there’s a lot more upward momentum for cloud-based CAD than is anticipated in the CAD Trends report.

But I digress.

Future Looking Bright

Once the idea that cloud can power both your CAD operations as well as your CAE simulations (and possibly even adjoint calculations), the wider CAD community should catch on to the value of this tech. What’s more, since cloud-based CAD is in the cloud, it’s hardware agnostic. Apple users will finally be able to fully join the CAD fold.

Based on those two criteria alone (and the fact that mobile users will most likely snap up good cloud-CAD tools), I think cloud-based CAD as a big future ahead. I’m also convinced that future will arrive sooner than expected. 

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