New research confirms benefits of mobile 3D CAD

By DavidChadwick

Industry analyst Lifecycle Insights' report "CAD on Mobile Device" discusses impact of mobile 3D CAD
Industry analyst Lifecycle Insights’ report “CAD on Mobile Device” discusses impact of mobile 3D CAD

New research from industry analyst Lifecycle Insights shows that mobile 3D CAD design is here today and is already providing benefits for designers and manufacturers worldwide. In a new eBook “CAD on mobile devices: Is it ready? Do we need it?” Chad Jackson examines the pressures for designers and engineers to be more mobile, and talks to some early adopters of mobile 3D CAD. Chad outlines several scenarios – on the shop floor, at a suppliers office and in a meeting with a potential customer where having access to full design projects on a mobile device will improve a designer’s ability to react quickly to urgent issues.

One of the interviews that Chad conducted as part of his research was with Sean Cresswell from a New Zealand manufacturer of street furniture, Streetscape. It is interesting that Sean has been one of our early adopters of mobile CAD (using Solid Edge on a Microsoft Surface Pro) as Streetscape could be considered to be part of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry sector rather than traditional manufacturing. The AEC sector is ahead of the manufacturing sector with their current use of mobile CAD – 31% of AEC companies are using mobile CAD today compared with 18% of manufacturing companies according to recent research from Business Advantage.

Mobile 3D CAD is used by Streetscape to support the design. manufacture and installation of their outdoor installations
Mobile 3D CAD is used by Streetscape in the design and manufacture of their eye catching street furniture

In his role as design manager Sean uses mobile 3D CAD to resolve manufacturing issues. “Being predominantly a sheet metal shop, we sometimes have guys on the shop floor who misinterpret complex folding operations. I’ll take my tablet and fire up CAD to resolve issues and get it right”. As is fairly typical with smaller manufacturing companies Sean has another critical role, that of sales engineer. “In front of clients, I mainly use the touch screen. I primarily use it as a sketch environment, capturing their ideas and how we might be able to make it.” And when working at a remote site, for example with a supplier, the ability to make design changes immediately saves a great deal of time. “I’ll also take it to suppliers. I’ll take their models, bring them up and start making modifications.”

After discussing several scenarios where mobile access to 3D CAD can have a beneficial impact, and reviewing the capabilities of the latest tablets and how CAD software is being optimized for these devices, Chad’s conclusion is that “CAD on mobile devices is finally feasible and ready. Together the two are a natural fit.”

New webinar discusses trends in mobile computing and thier application in manufacturing industry
New webinar discusses trends in mobile computing and their application in manufacturing industry

We also recently captured a webinar together with “Mobility for the Design Engineer: Fact or Fiction”. In the webinar Simon Floyd from Microsoft discusses recent developments in the capabilities of mobile devices that make it possible to run full 3D CAD design sessions, and their increasing use in manufacturing industry. Bill McClure from Siemens talks about how Solid Edge has been optimized to run on the Microsoft Surface Pro, for example by using finger gestures on the touch screen for view manipulations and using a stylus for selecting geometry. And Bob Mileti from industrial equipment manufacturer Trlby Innovative discusses his use of mobile CAD that enables him to resolve urgent customer issues anytime, anywhere. You can access a replay of the webinar through

We are interested to hear your reaction to this new research and if you see the potential for your designers being able to solve more design issues while mobile.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at