Computer-Aided Design (CAD) has become an essential tool in a great variety of industries. Software solutions like AutoCAD are extensively used across the business spectrum. From AEC projects to product design — CAD software has revolutionized the way engineers and designers work.
Of course, as CAD and other modern technologies keep on evolving, this creates some exciting possibilities. One of the most crucial trends in CAD software and usage has to do with the Internet of Things (IoT).
In this article, we will talk about how CAD technology is combined with IoT to create something truly futuristic. We will explore concepts like “digital twins” and dive deeper into the benefits IoT-enabled CAD offers for product designers and engineers.
What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things is essentially a network of smart devices that collect and exchange data via the Internet. IoT devices are equipped with software, sensors, and other tech that allows them to gather information and then transfer it between themselves or to the cloud. Those devices can be pretty much anything — from everyday household appliances, clothing, and wearables, to sophisticated industrial machines.
Currently, there are more than 35 billion IoT devices around the world. Reports suggest that this number will increase to over 75 billion by 2025.
In the past decade, IoT has become one of the most influential technologies in the world. Now that we can easily connect everyday objects to the Internet, we can benefit from fast and reliable communication between things, processes, and people. With cloud computing, AI, big data, and mobile tech, machines can easily communicate with each other and share data with little-to-no human intervention whatsoever. Such complex systems can monitor and adjust every interaction between connected things. This allows for the physical and digital worlds to merge effectively.
Using CAD to Create Digital Twins for IoT
Product designers and manufacturers can use the information generated by IoT devices to make important decisions about their products. For example, heavy equipment can collect operational data that can be later used for examination by design engineers. IoT can also monitor machine operations in order to detect, prevent, and mitigate malfunctions. Of course, a company can also make use of product data generated across the world to analyze product performance.
As CAD technology finds application in all areas of product design and manufacturing, combining it with IoT data is logical. As an example, real-world data regarding temperature and other environmental factors can be fed straight into the CAD model for extremely accurate simulations. Using such processes, a 3D CAD model effectively becomes a “digital twin” — an accurate virtual rendition of a real physical thing. The digital twin can offer a deep understanding of how the real-life item will behave under certain conditions, allowing us to get actionable insights about its operation.
IoT-enabled CAD models make possible the collection of real-time data from multiple sources within a single file. That lets designers and engineers see how real-world data impacts their design in an accurate, realistic way. The whole process becomes even better when you add Augmented Reality (AR) to the mix. Essentially, you can see and interact with your model by moving the digital twin from CAD to AR in a simple, time-efficient manner.
The Benefits of IoT-Enabled CAD Design
When it comes to product design, it is vital to understand how your products are actually used out there. Of course, you also have to be able to get that information consistently and make use of it in a time-efficient way. Product design begins with requirements, but sometimes those are nothing more than assumptions. By implementing real-world data gathered by IoT devices, you can adjust your design for actual use.
Getting this invaluable data into your CAD model can validate your initial assumptions and also provide you with groundbreaking new insights. Those insights will help you improve not only the design and functionality of a product, but also its reliability and overall quality.
Modern IoT-enabled CAD models provide many benefits for product designers, engineers, and project managers. Here are some examples of how those advancements in CAD revolutionize a variety of industries:
- IoT-enabled CAD lets you analyze performance data coming from numerous sources. This allows for better prototype development and greatly enhanced testing, giving you insights into how exactly the product behaves under certain conditions.
- Data gathered from IoT lets you improve the overall product quality for the current and next-generation versions of your product. Depending on the nature of your product, you can enhance its durability, improve or add functionality, detect malfunctions, or even discover applications you have not thought of before.
- Real-world IoT data in your CAD model will also let you optimize sensor placement and optimize your data capturing capabilities. Ultimately, this will lead to reduced costs and better data feeds. Modern CAD software has exceptional capabilities when it comes to data processing and visualization. With IoT, you can take full advantage of that.
- As we already mentioned, IoT-enabled CAD models produce a large amount of data. With the right analytics software, you can leverage this information to discover and create more business opportunities and drive growth.
IoT is undoubtedly the future, and we will continue seeing this industry grow and expand. As IoT devices become an integral part of our everyday lives, product designers and engineers will have to adapt their workflows to include IoT-enabled CAD.
The benefits that come with the use of this technology are too numerous to ignore. By combining modern CAD software and IoT data, we can create better products that meet the consumer’s demand. Additionally, IoT-enabled CAD significantly improves the internal design, testing, and review processes.
Anna Liza Montenegro is a trained architect and an accomplished marketing professional in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, she possesses both strategic and execution of marketing initiatives, go-to-market plans, and execute product launches.
At Microsol Resources, she develops the marketing strategy, brand management, digital marketing, and other demand generation activities for Microsol’s strategic partnerships with Autodesk, McNeel Rhino, Bluebeam, Enscape, Chaos Group V-Ray, Panzura, Ideate Software, and other partners. When not marketing, she loves spending time with her kids, traveling, and summers in Maine.