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The review of the software for performance of design works
Traditionally products CAD for mechanical engineering are divided into three classes: heavy, average and easy. Such classification has developed historically and though for a long time already there are conversations that sides between classes will just about be erased, they remain, as systems still differ both under the price, and on functionality.

As a result now in this area there are some powerful systems, some kind of “oligarchs” CAD-world, stably developing products of middle class and gained mass distribution inexpensive “lungs” programs. Is available also so-called “an extraclass layer of a society” which role is carried out by various specialised decisions.

Let's consider a few stories.

Under the term “CAD for mechanical engineering” in our country the packages which are carrying out functions CAD/CAM/CAE/PDM usually are meant, i.e. The automated designing, manufacture and designing preparation, and also management of the engineering data.

The first CAD-systems have appeared at computer facilities dawn – in the sixties. Then in the company of General Motors the interactive graphic system of preparation of manufacture has been developed, and in 1971 its founder – doctor Patrick Henretti (it name father of CAD) – has based company Manufacturing and Consulting Services (MCS), made huge impact on development of this branch. According to analysts, ideas MCS have made a basis almost 70% modern CAD.

In the beginning 80 when computing capacity of computers has considerably grown, on a scene there were the first CAM-packages allowing partially to automate process of manufacture by means of programs for machine tools with CNC, and the CAE-products intended for the analysis of difficult designs.

Thus, to the middle of 80 systems CAD for mechanical engineering have found the form which exists and now. But most rapid development occurred within 90th years – by then in the field there were new players “an average weight category”.

Competition strengthening stimulated perfection of products: thanks to the convenient graphic interface their use has considerably become simpler, there were new mechanisms of solid-state modelling ACIS and Parasolid which are now used in many leaders CAD, functionality has considerably extended.

As a result demand on CAD grew by leaps and bounds throughout almost all the decade long. But recently, in connection with decrease in industrial activity in the USA and Europe and saturation of the market by CAD-products, this growth was gradually slowed down: according to analytical company Daratech, in 1999 the sales volume of systems CAD/CAM for a year has increased by 11.1%, in 2000 – on 4.7%, in 2001 – on 3.5%, and in 2002 – on 1.3% (tentative estimation).

It is possible to tell that transition in a new century became for market CAD a turning-point. In such situation on the foreground there were two basic tendencies – merges/absorption of the companies and search of new directions for growth. A vivid example of the first tendency – purchase by company EDS in 2001 of two known developers heavy CAD – Unigraphics and SDRC, and the second – active advancement of concept PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), the information meaning management on a product throughout all its life cycle.

The table – market CAD Structure.
ClassCAD The product The company
Heavy Unigraphics NX UGS PLM Solutions (EDS)
CATIA Dassault Systemes/IBM
Average Foreign systems
Edge Works UGS PLM Solutions (EDS) Works
Inventor and Mechanical DeskAutodesk
Think3Think3 S.p.A.
Po werSolutionsDelcam
Domestic products
T-Flex (CAD/CAM/CAE/PDM)“Top Systems”
SurfCAM 2D Surfware
Specialized CAD
Industrial designing Aulant Rebis (belongs to firm Bentley)
Building designing (ferro-concrete) Robot MillenniumRoboBAT
Architectural design Architectural DeskAutodesk

Let's consider in the lead and dominating software developers for performance of design works.

As a result of the recent changes connected with merges and absorption, heavy systems remains only three: Unigraphics NX companies UGS PLM Solutions (EDS), CATIA the French firm Dassault Systemes (which advances it together with IBM) and Pro/Engineer from RTS (Parametric Technology Corp.). These companies – leaders in the field of CAD, and their products occupy position of oligarchs: on them the lion's share of volume of the market in money terms is necessary.

The main feature “heavyweights” consists that their extensive functionality, high efficiency and stability are reached as a result of long development. All of them far are not young: CATIA has appeared in 1981, Pro/Engineer – in 1988, and Unigraphics NX though left several months ago, grows out of merge of two rather respectable systems – Unigraphics and I-Deas, got together with companies Unigraphics and SDRC.

Despite the fact that what heavy systems are much more expensive than the more “lungs” colleagues (over 10 thousand dollars on one workplace), expenses for their acquisition pay off, especially so far as concerns difficult manufacture, for example mechanical engineering, engine building, the aviation and space industry. According to analysts, this segment of the market is already almost sated and divided between whales of the industry. Now manufacturers of computer-aided design facilities rest the basic hopes of the design organisations of an average and a small-scale business, which much more, than industrial giants. Systems of an average and a lung of classes are intended for them.

Let's consider middle class of the software for performance of design works.

It is considered that stability and prosperity of any society depends on the middle class, different diligence and reliability. This statement is fair and for CAD-world. Here the middle class has appeared rather recently – in the mid-nineties. Before there were only two poles – on one powerful systems working on Unix (however then them was much more, than now), and on other – simple programs of 2D-plotting for the personal computer. But by 1995 computing capacity of the personal computer has grown, and Windows became stabler and has started to support multitasking. It has allowed developers to create systems of the automated designing which were intermediate between heavy and easy classes. From the first they have inherited possibilities of 3D-solid-state modelling, and from the second – the low price and orientation to platform Windows. They have made the present revolution in CAD-world, having allowed many design and design organisations to pass from 2D- to 3D-modelling.

Leaders of this segment are systems SolidEdge (developed by firm Intergraph, and now belonging UGS PLM Solutions (EDS)), SolidWorks the company with the same name (now – division Dassault Systemes), and also Inventor and Mechanical Desktop corporations Autodesk. It is far not the full list of averages CAD. In the given segment the set of the companies, including Russian, offering rather inexpensive systems in cost of an order of 5-8 thousand dollars on one workplace works. Their popularity among users constantly grows, and thanks to it the given area very dynamically develops.

As a result on functionality the middle class gradually catches up with the more expensive competitors. However not all such variety of functions is required to users. Those who basically works with 2D-drawings, perfectly will accept system of an easy class which costs several times more cheaply.

Let's consider lightweight among the software for performance of design works.

Programs of an easy category serve for simple 2D-plotting, therefore them usually name an electronic drawing board. And though by this time “lightweight” have found also some 3D-possibilities, they do not have the means of parametrical modelling which are available in more powerful systems.

The first systems of 2D-modelling have appeared still in the seventies when means have been developed for the image of lines, circles and curves on the screen of the monitor by means of macros and interfaces of applied programming.

However original blossoming in this area has come only in 80 when on a scene there was a personal computer. Events developed quickly: in 1982 company Autodesk which was engaged in working out CAD for the personal computer under name AutoCAD has been based, and already to 1987 has been sold 100 thousand copies AutoCAD (last year this number has exceeded 4 million). To example Autodesk other players have followed also, and now there is a set various “lungs” CAD, including DataCAD the company with the same name, IntelliCAD firms CADopia, SurfCAM 2D from Surfware, etc. These products are easier in use and is cheaper (100-3000 dollars) the more powerful colleagues, therefore demand for them grows even at present economic recession. As a result “lungs” steel systems the most widespread product of automation of designing, having occupied in CAD-world the same position what in community of eople is taken away “to the simple working people”.

Classification by character of a base subsystem:
- CAD which are directed on appendices where the main procedure of designing is designing, that is definition of spatial forms and a relative positioning of objects. It CAD on the basis of a machine drawing and mathematical modelling. The most part of graphic kernels CAD concerns the given group of systems in mechanical engineering sphere.
- CAD, focused on appendices in which at enough simple mathematical calculations the considerable quantity of the data is processed. It CAD on the basis of DBMS. Data of CAD mainly meets in technical and economic appendices, for example, In the course of designing of business plans, the objects similar to control panels in systems of automatics.
- Complex (integrated) CAD which include set of the previous kinds of subsystems. Typical examples complex CAD can be CAE/CAD/CAM-systems in mechanical engineering or CAD the ENCORE. Thus, DBMS and subsystems of designing of components, basic, logic and function charts, topology of crystals, tests for check of the validity of products are part of the LSI CAD. To operate such difficult systems use specialised system environments.
- CAD on the basis of a certain applied package. As a matter of fact it is freely used software and methodical complexes, such as, a complex of imitating modelling of productions, a complex of synthesis and the analysis of systems of automatic control, a complex of calculation of durability on a method of final elements, etc. As a rule, data CAD concerns systems CAE. For example, programs of logic designing on the basis of language VHDL, mathematical packages of type MathCAD.

Let's consider evolution and development of the software for performance of design works.

Similarity of market CAD with a society of people is shown and in character of its development which occurs an evolutionary and revolutionary way. In due time revolutionary revolution was made by the first CAD for the personal computer, and then middle class system. Now the market develops volutionarily: with each new version functionality of products of all classes extends, productivity increases, and use becomes simpler, the attention to the PDM-systems grows, allowing to accelerate construction work and to realise popular concept PLM at the expense of introduction of technical document circulation and management of projects, and in connection with Internet distribution there are means for interaction of designers through the Worldnet and on-line libraries of typical details.

1. Review CAD: yesterday and today []
2. Wikipedia: CAD []

The author: Челябэнергопроект
Date: 03/23/2010

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