What tools do engineers use to make design decisions? CAD versus simulation? Let’s look at some research.

Today, Chad Jackson shares some findings from a past study. The first study he brings up is from a few years ago, though parts of it are still accurate and representative of what’s going on in the industry. First, he looks at the tools that engineers are using to make design decisions, and specifically in this study lifecycle insights isolated the respondents that stated they made design decisions. Then we asked questions such as “How consistent and how frequent are you using different tools?” In this case, we’re looking at CAD.

This is a tool that you use to develop geometry (3D shapes) and the graph in the video shows a very high number for this category. There was this prevailing idea not that long ago that engineers just use CAD once they’ve already made all their design decisions and they want to document it then as a 3D model and not before that, meaning they wouldn’t be exploring lots of different iterations. We believe this finding puts that idea to bed. Engineers are using this tool in a lot of different ways to support their design decisions.

Next, we look at the graph showing simulation. Where before we saw CAD being used very frequently and very consistently by those that are making design decisions. In this graph, with simulation, there’s a big shift to the right into this frequent but inconsistent or consistent and infrequent shift. Those are two very similar categories that relay that simulation is not being used that much, and if it is, it’s being used in spurts.

Chad Jackson then dives into how this speaks to what’s on the critical path for engineers and what has to get done as part of the design process to get into design release and hit that deadline to keep moving. Right now simulation isn’t seen as being on the critical path whereas CAD is. Chad indicates that this needs to change and then we can talk about the benefits to reducing the rounds of prototyping or reducing scrap, rework, and reducing change orders unless the benefit is seen as that companies can’t move forward without this, then it’s going to continue to languish in this state.