AR Is the Future of CAD

Katelyn Stevens
Written by Katelyn Stevens

Augmented Reality,CAD | 5 Minute Read

A Chat with Matt Huybrecht, PTCU's Education Development Specialist

If you have a smartphone in 2018, whether you realize it or not, the likelihood is high that you’ve engaged with some kind of Augmented Reality (AR) experience. AR is beginning to shape the world in which we live – fundamentally changing how we both work and play. Augmented gaming experiences and stylized photo ops are fun uses for AR, but have you considered what it could mean for CAD developers?

We took some time to chat with Matt Huybrecht, PTCU’s Education Development Specialist, Fellow. Matt has more than 20 years of CAD experience and has recently switched gears into authoring for our
AR curriculum. Check out his insightful forecast below about how engineering itself could be reinvented in the years to come.


KS: Matt, one of the exciting advances that AR brings to CAD is the ability to virtually test 3-D models early in the design cycle. Gone are the days of the tedious 2-D model interpretations. How do you see this affecting product development?

-MH: I think the product development lifecycle timeframe will be reduced as a result. Rather than trying to visualize what the model will look like based on various 2-D drawings or even 3-D CAD models, the designers and engineers are able to view their digital prototype in the environment it
willbe used. This can help them discover issues earlier on in the design cycle and fix them quicker.

KS: When we talk about merging physical prototypes with digital counterparts, what do you see to be the top advantages?

-MH: I think the top advantage will be an overall reduction in the quantity of prototypes that must be created. Instead of having to create multiple prototypes to address an issue, the digital counterpart can enable the designers and engineers to not only address an issue, but also be able to discover new potential issues that in the past could only have been discovered with a physical prototype. Prototyping can be both time-consuming and expensive depending on the method used, so I think cost reduction is another big advantage.

KS: All these advances push the industry toward rapid design cycles. Are there pitfalls to watch out for?

-MH: I think that there will always be some issues that can only be discovered or addressed with a physical prototype. For example, to me, determining if there is enough room to fit a wrench into an area would be difficult without having physical models to try it on. The other pitfall I can foresee is the potential of having too much information at one’s disposal. The CAD developer will need to really understand which parameters are the most important to the design.

KS: With AR, products will be providing constant performance data. How will this accessibility to daily performance metrics influence future development?

-MH: The key here is that designers and engineers will have real-world data from which to draw on for their designs. No longer will they merely have assumptions to base their designs on, but actual data for temperatures, loads, pressures, and so on. So, the products that companies release will be better able to handle the tasks for which they were designed. This also gives designers and engineers the opportunity to design products for situations they might not have otherwise thought of. This can result in products that have longer lifespans out in the field.

KS: By leveraging 3-D models earlier in the design cycle, how do you expect product development buy-into change?

-MH: Green lightning projects could completely change. With more data than ever readily available, specific and accurate behavior predictions could become a requirement much earlier in the game. But I do think companies will be more willing to spend the time and resources developing AR
experiences once they see the beneficial capabilities to reducing their design cycles. These decisions will need to be strategic – ensuring that the right people are expending the right energy in the right places at the right time.

KS: You just ran the alpha for The Fundamentals of AR course which is now available here. What did you learn about how the students responded to this cutting-edge training?

-MH: Overall the students were pretty excited about the technology and how it can be used in the industry. It was great to give them a glimpse into the future of some of the tools that will be used in product design.

KS: It’s a cool time to be a CAD software engineer. What are you most excited about as this industry catapults itself into the future?

-MH: The AR industry is in its infancy. Customers are just beginning to understand how AR can be used to develop better products. I’m very excited to help guide our customers as the AR industry matures. I’m even more excited that by working together with our customers, we will collectively
help shape the future of AR in the industry. I can’t wait to see the ways in whichAR will be used that we haven’t even thought of yet! It’s a very exciting time indeed.

If you’re a CAD engineer who has some questions about AR and where this industry is going, we hope you got your answer. Diving into AR with Matt gives us an interesting look into the future of CAD. If you have any more questions, tweet us as @PTC_University. See you next time!