Guess What Innovations CAD Will Bring Through Robotics?
A trip down the memory lane of CAD technology reveals a history of tremendous technical progress, with accompanying benefits that we now enjoy and take for granted. In order to appreciate the extent of the progress made in CAD technology, it will be a good idea to determine the following:
- Major CAD innovations which occurred in the last 4 decades
- Innovations which are currently being implemented
- Innovations which are on the immediate horizon
- Innovations in CAD which could emerge in the future
What Major Innovations Occurred in the Last 4 decades?
Here is a brief history of major technological strides taken in CAD technology:
- From the 1960s to the 1970s, manual drafting evolved into electronic drafting with the introduction of Sketchpad® from MIT Labs. Sketchpad enabled the engineer to graphically interact with the computer by drawing on a CRT monitor with an electronic pen. This innovation paved the way for GUI (Graphical User Interface), which has become ubiquitous for most electronic devices, notably cellular phones, tablets, and computers. After the advent of Sketchpad, much work related to electronic design and drafting was performed in the aircraft, automotive and electronics industries. It should be mentioned that PRONTO, a numerical control programming tool (CAM technology) developed by P. Hanratty in 1957, preceded Sketchpad.
- In the 1970s, CAD computer systems were introduced by United Computing, Intergraph, IBM and Bentley Systems. These early CAD systems were expensive, and they were used primarily by large companies. These CAD systems were available as 2D software, and they ran on mainframe computers.
- When lower cost microcomputers were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s, CAD software became accessible to engineers. It was in this time period that the IGES (Initial Graphic Exchange Standard) standard was established, in order to facilitate the transfer of CAD data between different CAD software systems. The most popular computer systems used for CAD software were provided by IBM, VAX, Data General, and Hewlett-Packard.
- In the 1980s, the VAX CAD system, the Sun Microsystems, and the Silicon Graphics CAD systems dominated the marketplace until the mid-1980s. After IBM shipped the first PC in 1981, the floodgates opened for desktop computing, and AutoCAD was released in 1982. After that, other desktop CAD software such as CADRA, CADAM, CADKEY, MiniCAD, and CATIA became more affordable to CAD engineers. Other significant advances were made in the form of 3D CAD technology. Of notable mention are Pro/Engineer, introduced by Parametric Technology; and CATIA by Dassault Systems.
- In the 1990s, leading CAD vendors such as Autodesk and Dassault Systems established their dominant presence in the global CAD marketplace.
What Innovations Are Currently Being Implemented?
There are many exciting innovations which are becoming reality. The scope of this article does not make it possible to mention all innovations. Therefore, we shall mention only four current innovations:
- The Building Information Modeling (BIM) has benefited tremendously from CAD technology by involving architects, engineers, and many other teams in working together throughout the lifetime of a construction or architectural object. BIM’s collaborative process optimizes the design and construction process, because it provides significant savings in time and cost. The collaborative process also reduces design errors, minimizes design alterations, and minimizes rework.
- CAD technology enabled the development of a disruptive medical technology, CIS (Computer-Integrated Surgery). The popular “Da Vinci Machine” has become commonplace for many surgical procedures. The potential of this technology includes (a) tailoring surgical robotic movements for patients on an individual basis, (b) creating small and precise incisions, and minimizing the time for post-operative recovery, and (c) the ability to work remotely in environments that may not be friendly to human surgeons, such in the bottom of the ocean or in outer space.
- Closely related to robotic surgery is orthopedic or joint replacement surgery. Without CAD/CAM technology, joint replacement surgery can neither properly fit orthopedic implants, nor position the implants accurately relative to each other and to the patient’s bones. Similarly, CAD/CAM precision is essential for osteotomies (procedures for cutting and reassembling bones) and for spine surgery.
- Because of 3D printing which relies heavily on CAD technology, dentists can now delivers restorative treatment without the need for impressions and stone casts. The CEREC System of Sirona Dental Systems is one such digital system which applies CAD/CAM technology for restorative dentistry.
What Innovations Are On The Immediate Horizon?
One immediate innovation on the horizon is the idea of a windowless aircraft. The implementation of this idea is well underway. Benefits to be gained from a windowless aircraft include:
- Reduction in aircraft design challenges, which require that additional structural support should be provided to compensate for the presence of windows
- Reduction in the weight of the aircraft, which leads to improved fuel consumption and reduced fares for the air traveler
- The ability to provide wider seats for the traveller
- Provision of scenic views of the entire surroundings of the aircraft. Furthermore, OLED computer screens will provide an interactive tactile experience between the screen and the traveler, who can surf the web, and control what he/she sees or experiences from a rich multimedia library on the aircraft
What Innovations Could Emerge In The Future?
It is likely that intelligent robots will emerge in the near future. Some of the functions that these robots will perform could include:
- Disarming bombs in the battlefield
- Working in hazardous areas
- Providing janitorial and room service in hotels
- Providing limited nursing care for patients, especially for patients who have highly infectious diseases
- Providing companionship in ways that mimic what the popular TV series “Stepford Wives” presented as fantasy, or what the robot named “Data” is able to accomplish in “Star Trek, the Next Generation”
- Providing diagnostic and problem solving capabilities, because the robots will be equipped with artificial intelligence, neural networks, and access to vast amounts of data
Hopefully, forthcoming innovations will improve the quality of life, and will not be misused by organized crime.
– India CAD works