Computer-assisted design software has been a staple within the architecture, engineering and construction community for decades. These platforms hit the market back in the 1980s and made an immediate impact, The New York Times reported. AEC professionals lauded the systems, highlighting their unique time-saving features.
“AutoCAD speeds up all the routine drafting tasks and takes the drudgery out of the process,” Hugh Weisman, an architect and principal at the Manhattan firm Rivkin-Weisman, told the Times in 1985. “Architectural drawings require an incredible amount of repetitive tasks. In a hospital, for instance, many of the rooms are identical, the doors are repetitive. With a CAD system we can draw one tile, have the computer tile a whole operating theater for us.”
Today, CAD solutions are ubiquitous. In fact, the demand for such software continues to intensify. The CAD market is expected to grow 7 percent between 2017 and 2021, according to data from U.K.-based research firm Technavio. Why? A number of new trends are encouraging further adoption.
The rise of VR and AR
Virtual reality technology is transforming workflows across myriad sectors, including the architecture, engineering and construction industries. VR has had an immense impact on CAD software, as programmers can now equip systems with cutting-edge features that allow users to create and experience 3-D models, TCT Magazine reported.
Augmented reality technology has had a similar effect, facilitating the creation of infinitely scalable and controllable designs.
Cloud services growth
Firms have traditionally maintained on-premises CAD systems perceived as easy-to-maintain and secure. This is slowly starting to change, as organizations swap locally supported solutions for cloud alternatives, according to Technavio. This software is often easier to install and comes with fewer upfront costs. These factors alone have encouraged firms to take the plunge and adopt CAD platforms.
Mobile CAD awareness increases
AEC organizations have adopted mobile-ready CAD systems with increasing regularity in recent years, according to survey data from the market research firm Business Advantage. Currently, an estimated 17 percent of these companies use mobile CAD. That said, more than half have such solutions on their radars and may consider adoption in the near future.
PLM moves forward
CAD solutions with product lifecycle management options are immensely popular. As of 2016, more than half of all CAD software adopters leverage these features to manage internal processes and resources, Business Advantage found. Additionally, PLM users are switching from on-premise versions to cloud-based models, Engineering.com reported. This transition is bolstering the CAD market, as new adopters enter the area in search of not only design tools but also fast and reliable PLM products.
2-D tools reign supreme
While newfangled features like those mentioned above are getting more attention, traditional 2-D tools continue to hold down the market. Approximately 68 percent of AEC CAD users deploy these features, according to Business Advantage.
With these trends in play, the CAD software market looks poised to further solidify its place within the architecture, engineering and constructions industries.