, Electronic Data Systems
, Simon Fraser University
, Machover Associates
Pages: pp. 22-23
The last IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications special issue on CAD/CAM was in November 1995. Then, CAD/CAM was the major application for computer graphics with about 2.1 million PCs and conventional workstations used for CAD/CAM and more than 100 hardware, software, and systems and services vendors supplying products. Although 3D was available, it was more prevalent in research labs than design departments. In addition, the high-paying jobs were in creating 2D production drawings with some supplemental computer-aided engineering, such as finite analysis. Typical systems were closed, turnkey configurations with a single vendor supplying both hardware and software. The systems were sufficiently expensive that special rooms were assigned to CAD/CAM and users reserved time to use the facility or were assigned full time to a workstation.
This environment has undergone major changes in recent years. According to market studies from Machover Associates, in 2001, annual sales were about $20 billion (compared to about $12 billion in 1995). CAD/CAM now represents about 22 percent of the computer graphics market. Major price reductions accompanied by enormously improved performance has made the systems more ubiquitous. Today, more than 4.5 million PC and conventional workstations are installed for CAD/CAM. While drawing production is still a requirement, design and analysis have become significantly more important. Integration with other applications and, perhaps more importantly, with other enterprise functions is more widespread and important. As far back as 1986, Ford of Europe envisioned a six-phased evolution from department-wide single applications to company-wide CAD/CAM integration. 1 Today, we see that collaborative, rather than serial engineering, is fast becoming the norm. The articles by Corney et al. and Cera et al. address aspects of this trend, and Contero et al.'s article surveys the state of product data quality and collaborative engineering.
Almost all systems are 3D capable, although the use of 3D still isn't universal. Features like color, animation, and virtual reality enhance the systems' capability. Significant vendor consolidation has occurred with many of the pioneering suppliers defunct or absorbed into one of the four major surviving system suppliers (Dassault/IBM; AutoDesk; Electronic Data Systems; and Parametric Technology Corporation, or PTC). For some however, 3D geometry is essential to designing and building physical products, and leading-edge users are looking for ways to evaluate the user impact of 3D display technology, as the article by Kasik et al. discusses.
For this special issue, we've selected the four articles mentioned and a tutorial by Dorst and Mann on Clifford algebra, which provides an alternate method of representing geometry in CAD/CAM systems. We believe these articles represent a reasonable snapshot of significant characteristics of the new CAD/CAM environment. n
We'd like to thank the authors and reviewers for helping make this special issue a reality. We'd also like to thank the CG&A staff for their assistance in producing this issue.