Today’s industrial companies are incorporating automation and modular robotics into their operations at growing rates in hopes of improving efficiency, product quality, safety, and flexibility. But modular robotics are difficult to build, presenting industrial machinery and robotics companies—especially early-stage startups with fewer resources at their disposal—with a dilemma. Their customers want these products, but engineering difficulties prevent companies from making them. 

Modular Robotics Designs Require Modern Tools

To develop modular robotics designs, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need tools that will help them overcome engineering challenges, now and in the future. However, many traditional design solutions, like 2D CAD and general-purpose collaboration tools such as emails, spreadsheets, and documents, don’t provide engineering teams with the necessary functionality.

2D CAD solutions provide limited design views. They also hinder engineers’ ability to test the interoperability of parts with machine models, which are usually built in 3D CAD environments. And those general-purpose collaboration tools make it difficult to track vital product data. Stakeholders can easily lose track of key product specifications as the volume of communications between teams increases. This bogs down the design process and makes developing modular robotics designs all but impossible.

This post explores how industrial machinery and robotics companies can use 3D CAD solutions and collaboration tools to overcome the design challenges modular robotics pose.

3D CAD and Collaboration Tools Improve Design

Unlike the traditional approach, 3D CAD solutions and modern collaboration tools deliver the functionality OEMs need to craft intricate modular machine designs. 

Today’s 3D CAD solutions often feature cutting-edge design features, such as predictive curvature, stress balances, and digital twins. These solutions deliver powerful simulation techniques and pre-built environments that allow teams to design and test robotic components effectively. 3D CAD solutions can also improve collaboration by maintaining up-to-date models that stakeholders can access as they coordinate design efforts.

Modern collaboration tools, from internal messaging apps to full-scale PLM software, also give industrial machinery and robotics companies a critical advantage. Because modular machine designs are highly complex, it’s essential that cross-functional teams coordinate their work early in the design process. Unlike traditional tools, today’s collaboration solutions can provide centralized platforms for real-time communication that simplify work. These solutions can help teams manage design changes to ensure new modules meet compatibility and structural requirements. In addition, such tools can improve communication between internal and external stakeholders, increasing the efficiency of the design process and improving product quality.

A Key to Industry Disruption

Modular robotics designs represent the next evolution of industrial machinery. For early-stage startups and OEMs, which often have fewer resources than their larger counterparts, making technological investments that serve present and future needs is especially important. 3D CAD solutions and collaboration tools do precisely that.

By investing early in these tools, startups and small companies gain significant advantages over larger, less flexible companies, which are often slower to change their CAD software and collaboration tools. By investing in tools that simplify the complex modular robotics design process and improve cross-functional collaboration, OEMs can increase their ROI and better position themselves to disrupt traditional industry businesses. 

3D CAD solutions and collaboration tools make those outcomes possible by expanding the ability of OEMs and designers to build and test modular machine parts. These groups can use the solutions’ digital twin functionality to assess module performance and gain insights that inform future improvements. They can also ensure tight collaboration throughout the development process, allowing them to define and address product changes every step of the way and keep pace with important progress deadlines.


In today’s manufacturing environments, efficiency, safety, and sustainability have never been more valued. Modular robotics designs can improve businesses’ outcomes in each of these areas. As a result, more OEMs are exploring the potential of these machines. But the design challenges they present make it nearly impossible to produce them efficiently, especially using 2D CAD solutions and traditional collaboration tools. 

3D CAD solutions and collaboration tools, however, allow stakeholders to work closely across functional departments to define and improve designs more efficiently. By making early investments into these tools, OEMs—whether they are startups or established companies—can deliver the more productive, safer, more sustainable industrial machinery their customers need to maintain competitiveness in the future. Doing so also provides a distinct advantage as more and more customers embrace the benefits of modular designs.

Therefore, industrial machinery and robotics companies should invest in exploring 3D CAD solutions and collaboration tools to determine what best fits their needs. As part of that exploration, company stakeholders should attend webinars and conferences that contribute to the growing discussion of the modular robotics industry and its future growth. With the relevant information in hand, OEMs can make the best investment decision for the present and future of their businesses.