Steep Growth in 2015 CAD Adoption Trends


April 22, 2015 Rob Spiegel

We’ve seen report after report showing steady growth in cloud-based CAD tools as well as exploding expansion of 3D printing. Now we have data on adoption to back up these growth claims. Business Advantage Group has released its 2015 Annual CAD Trends Survey showing current and future adoption of computer design software.

While cloud services and 3D printing show increased adoption, both current and planned, other growth areas include a sharp ramp-up of PLM services -- 19% increase in use this year, and 43% growth expected in three to five years. Mobile CAD is also growing, with its fastest uptake occurring in North America. The use of simulation is also booming.

The survey was completed by 635 professionals from around the world in late 2014. The results cover 15 trends, including 3D modeling, building information modeling (BIM), cloud-based CAD, simulation, 3D Printing, and open-source CAD. These were ranked by awareness, importance, and current and intended adoption.

Here are some of the 2015 CAD adoption trends:

  • Growth of 3D modeling in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) is predicted to be up to four times greater than in manufacturing.
  • Simulation adoption was more than double last year’s prediction, and AEC usage is predicted to grow by 58% in three to five years. 
  • PLM is predicted to grow by 19% this year and 43% in the next three to five years.
  • Concurrent engineering is predicted to grow 32% this year and 63% in three to five years.
  • BIM growth will be lower than predicted last year. 
  • Mobile CAD usage is highest in North America.
  • 3D Printing will grow 50% this year, 39% in manufacturing, and 110% in AEC. 
  • Cloud-based CAD usage is predicted to double this year and triple in three to five years. Highest use will be in AEC.

The survey found that just over half of respondents had upgraded, changed, or added to their CAD in the past 12 months. Most respondents use workstations, desktop PCs, or laptops. While mobile tools are trending up, only 20% of respondents are connecting via mobile workstations. Mobile phone CAD use is 2%. The most-used CAD software packages were AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and PTC Creo.