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Apr 29, 2010


Blake Courter

Don't forget about porting the components.

Might be potential for PLM, though, and basic assembly modeling.



I believe the opposite is true. The iPad is ripe for a pro-sumer-level design app at a reasonable price. Will these apps ever be as feature rich as 3D Studio Max or AutoCAD? Absolutely not. With time however, there will be an iPad design app that focuses on casual, touch-based conceptual design (3D or 2D) which exposes these high-end CAD applications as bloat-ware with little innovation when it comes to improving the process of design. iPad design apps should not attempt to match the features of a full blown CAD application because people will be using it in casual settings. A rudimentary export to common CAD formats will be sufficient. Additionally, the market for a design app on the iPad would only improve should Apple decide to make a larger iPad in the future.

I believe the creation of SketchUp showed the CAD industry that they were charging too much for their products and were not innovating in the areas that designers actually valued. There may not be a full version of SketchUp coming out for the iPad, but there will be an app that similarly shows the industry that they have been ignoring a large portion of the design market. Designers look for ease of use over a long feature list.

One area Apple has decided to ignore is stylus input. Tablet products exist today that use a stylus for input, but software developers for these devices haven’t been inspired to produce any ground breaking applications for them. The new generation of non-Apple tablets that are coming will show software developers that stylus input mobile design applications are an underserved market. It will be interesting to see if Apple will change their mind on pressure-sensitive stylus input once innovative stylus-input apps show up on these future non-Apple tablets.


"[...] quite another to operate solids and surface modeling with hardware accelerated graphics and floating-point operations."

The iPad has both hardware-accelerated OpenGL and OpenCL. The iPad OS, of course, is also a derivative of Mac OS X, so I expect at least cut-down versions of SketchUp, Google Earth, Vectorworks etc. on it in the near future.

Pricing is a good point. While Googel may be willing to give away creation/viewing tools for its geo-related business for little or nothing, would the proper 'big' CAD vendors be willing to do so? As an example, Omni are selling OmniGraffle at $50 - as opposed to the $99/$199 for the Standard/Pro Mac versions of this technical illustration tool. I haven't seen sales figures, but I see that they've recently introduced a money-back guarantee, suggestive that the user base so far aren't (i) willing to pay that much for an iPad app or else (ii) are disliking the iPad interface for such work. I guess time will tell (and these are very early days yet for the platform, when people are undoubtedly still feeling out optimum UIs).

@ Kemper

There are capacitative styluses available for the iPad (and iPhone/iPod touch). One such is here:


Jeff Setzer

I think devices like iPad are going to be I/O for big applications running on another machine...the "cloud computing" approach. Many apps already work that way, and SolidWorks showed a similar approach at SolidWorks World a few months ago.

Eric P.

But what are the minimal features of a CAD (2D or 3D) software to be "serious" for you?

Lou Gallo

All are good points why not, the question remains if supplementary tools like viewers and markup tools would be successful on the iPad. I think as tablets grow in popularity and touch becomes ubiquitous, the applications will follow. I don't think full level design would make sense on a small device but 3D collaboration and other supplemental applications are starting to make sense. Being able to participate in design no matter what connected device you have will probably be the future.


This is a job for SAAS! Imagine if you could at least collaborate or markup 3D CAD on this thing - thats sexy and the whole point behind CAD in the Cloud.

Steve Rapp

Just got my ipad yesterday. This weekend's project is:

1. Download a free evaluation version of Rino3D.
2. Convert my swoopy-curvy molded plastic design from Solidworks to Rhino3D.
3. Install Rhino3D viewer on my ipad ($3.99).
4. Make a presentation to my client next week with the ipad.

I did not purchase the ipad to do work: merely to make presentations and check email.


I believe it just got very cold in Hades:


Oliver Frey

Well, we are doing CAD app deliverance for iPad (and iPhone) and i can tell you will never be able to satisfy customers even if you give away a free version, only limited by sice of files. Even if the app is for free, people wants more functionalities, more file formats etc. Did anyone think about the costs to develop foreign file reading ability????
With the "Onhand Viewer" we have a real good CAD Viewer on market, but it seems €5,99 is too much money for most of the people who wanna have a profesional 3D Viewer on iPhone with sectioning, measuring and beamer support.
Do you really think you can get a full NX or Catia version on iPad for €0,79 ?????????

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