Design
MIT-developed plugin makes CAD changes 'instant'
It could lead to improvements for practically everything you use.

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.

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.