This last week, I attended the Council on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES)in Phoenix AZ. It's a great event that brings together many of the leaders of the industry from the ranks of software providers, journalists, industry analysts and manufacturers. We get together a debate a lot of edge topics relevant to the technology that engineers use to design and develop products. And this year was no different.
Like every year, there are some topics that are edgier than others. And I came across one in particular in three separate conversations and briefings over the course of the event. All of it was essentially based on this premise.
By the time someone starts using CAD, all the major design decisions have been made.
Now, if you've followed my posts in the past, you already know that I subscribe to this concept wholeheartedly. That is, at least in part, why I advocate that 2D still has a legitimate use in design for engineers (see past posts including Every Engineer's Dirty Little Secret? The Stigma of 2D). But I think there are some other serious implications, especially for simulation.
As far as simulation goes, here's my logic. If most design decisions are made before you even start developing 3D models, AND simulation should be the basis of some of those decisions, then those simulations precede 3D models. Follow me? Interestingly, there are some relatively recently developed technologies and approaches that are imminently applicable here, including:
OK. So those are some of the technologies that can be applied in a pre-CAD environment today. However, in my mind, that's not enough. As I wrote in a blog series (The Forlorn Engineering Notebook, Digital Notebooks for Engineering, Digital Sketching and the Engineering Notebook and Closing the Loop on Engineering Notebooks), all of these calculations have a context. They need to be alongside sketches, notes, requirements, pictures and more. But as of today, there is no solution available.
OK. Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Do you believe most design decisions are made before CAD is used? Do you think conceptual simulations is applicable? What about topology optimization? Sound off. I'm interested in what you have to say.
Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.