The broad range of technologies that support design, manufacturing and lifecycle management (CAD, CAM, CAE, analysis tools, simulation tools etc.) have become known collectively as Computer Aided Technologies (CAx). As with many areas of IT, the emphasis has moved over time from the focus in the early stages on maximising the functionality of the individual application (resulting in rapid progress in, for example, the capabilities of 3D modelling systems or finite element analysis technology) to the integration of a set of applications required to support entire workflows (such as digital prototyping) or all activities throughout the product lifecycle.
Prior to the introduction of the first IBM PC in 1981, computer-based design systems were expensive and based on proprietary mainframe and workstation technologies. The PC enabled a revolution in the wider use of design and engineering software, the capability of which has developed from simple 2D drafting to full 3D models supported by simulation and analysis that eliminate much (some claim all!) of the work associated with testing physical prototypes. Todayís technology can model everything from complex auto parts to a complete oil production platform, right down to each individual bolt.
Cambashi has monitored the development of the CAx market since the early 1980s and helps both vendors and users to understand the dynamics of the market worldwide and the complexities involved in adopting the technologies.
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