MIT-developed plugin makes CAD changes 'instant'

It could lead to improvements for practically everything you use.

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Saqib Shah
July 25, 2017 7:03 AM

A new computer-aided-design (CAD) plug-in could drastically improve products you use on a daily basis. Researchers from MIT and Columbia University say the tool will allow engineers to develop prototypes in real-time. They claim its ease of use will have an immediate impact on objects with complex designs, such as cars, planes, and robots.

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Many of the products you use are developed using computer-aided-design systems. However, the laborious nature of those same systems can also make them a hindrance during the design process. They can prove particularly time-consuming for engineers developing intricate products (like cars), which undergo a range of modifications.

According to its creators, the new InstantCAD plug-in can cut days (and even weeks) from the development period. This is mainly down to its use of a custom algorithm that provides instant feedback on how to improve an item's design. For example, if you were building a drone, it could tell you how to make it as lightweight as possible while still being able to carry your desired weight.

"From more ergonomic desks to higher-performance cars, this is really about creating better products in less time," said lead researcher Adriana Schulz. "We think this could be a real game changer for automakers and other companies that want to be able to test and improve complex designs in a matter of seconds."

InstantCad forms part of a paper that will be presented at this month's SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Los Angeles. Its authors claim the optmization of tricky CAD systems is critical in a world where 3D printing and robotics are becoming more accessible.

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