Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Direct Modeling Continues to Catch On

It should be no surprise that interest in direct modeling is continuing to grow, and at an ever increasing rate. Every major CAD vendor now has a strategy around direct modeling. These companies don’t do this because of some fascination with technology. Most are public companies and must show growth, revenue and profit. They do it based on real business potential.

This growth, however, has nothing to do with direct modeling somehow being better or more functional than traditional history-based modeling. These two methodologies are very different and they add value to the product design process in many different ways and in many different areas. There is no need to debate which is better. That is a pointless debate. The market has now proven a strong need for both methods.

I can name many companies that are currently standardized on history-based modeling for their product development, but are now adding direct modeling to their environment to improve specific areas of the product development process. These companies are not adding direct modeling due to some missing functionality in their history-based tool. As a matter of fact, some of the direct modeling tools they are deploying are much less functional than their standard CAD tool. Another important fact is that their addition of direct modeling is not causing a reduction in the seat count of their standard tool. Why do you suppose this is happening? Why would a company that already owns the most capable CAD tool on the planet (whatever you think that is), add direct modeling to their toolset - without reducing the seat count of their standard CAD tool? They already own a very capable CAD tool and yet they are realizing value from direct modeling. Do you have any idea why this is happening? In my little world I see it happening every week. If you don’t know, you certainly should.

There are also thousands of companies around the globe that have standardized on direct modeling as their primary CAD tool of choice for product design, from concept to manufacturing. This choice is based on their product characteristics and product development process. I can assure you that this choice was not some uninformed, unintelligent choice made in a vacuum, or perhaps made by some highly opinionated user. Most all of these companies switched from traditional parametric history-based modeling and continue to reap huge benefits from the switch, again, based on product and process characteristics. This wholesale switch however makes up a very small percentage of the growth that is happening in direct modeling.

It’s obvious that in most cases where direct modeling is being deployed, the hardcore full time CAD users are not switching to direct modeling. Many are satisfied and productive. So where does the value come from to justify the addition of direct modeling? I can give you many real-world use cases, but I’ll let you consider it yourself for a while, or you can read this, it’s my: Top Ten Reasons Companies add Direct Modeling to their Product Design Toolbox”

Most people I meet in my business are very involved in product development and many are serious CAD users, and yet most have never heard of direct modeling and have no clue what it is. I guess this would indicate that the growth we are seeing in direct modeling is only the tip of the iceberg … uh, maybe that’s not a good analogy... :<)

Paul