It’s hard to predict what’s to come in the next 365 days – especially in such volatile times. But it’s fun to speculate! 

We sat down with Onshape co-founder Jon Hirschtick to get his thoughts on current trends that will lead to rapid change all over the product development world.

(Portions of this article appeared in MCADCafé Weekly.)

So, What Will 2023 Bring?

Driven by massive amounts of volatility in almost every aspect of the world, product developers are in for continuing changes in the “three As”: Agile, Additive, and Augmented.

Do You Mean the Agile Methodology Will Be Used in Product Development?

Yes, hardware developers will begin to adopt agile processes, similar to the agile processes already used for software development.  

Why Now? 

There are four reasons: 

  1. Rapid change in the world around them;

  2. Lessons have been learned from agile software development; and 

  3. The new generation workforce, who is “agile-native” in their culture and tools.

  4. The tools are now available – cloud-native tools for CAD and PDM, with real-time collaboration, branching and merging, etc.

Just think about the world around product development companies. Faster-than-ever changes are happening in:

  • Which products are made;

  • The volumes of products made;

  • The people on their teams;

  • Where these people work;

  • Supply chain partners and locations;

  • Prices and availability of materials, energy, and components;

  • Prices and availability of their own products;

  • War, politics, and pandemics; and

  • Environmental and social compliance.

a board with sticky notes( / @patrickperkins)

Secondly, all hardware companies already develop software and use agile processes for that software development – so they can see how well it works.

The third factor in agile adoption is the new-generation workforce. They arrive in the business world with a built-in culture of agile processes in how they think and the tools they use.

The fourth factor driving agile is that suitable tools are now available. You can use CAD and PDM in cloud-native forms with capabilities that are perfect for agile workflows. Cloud-native tools that anybody on the team can use, on any device, anywhere, along with features like branching and merging and real-time collaboration are finally here for hardware engineers.

After Agility, Will Additive Shift Product Development?

Most definitely! Sure additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has been around for a long time, and most product developers know about it and use it. 

But the thing to realize about additive is that if you haven’t seen it lately you haven’t seen it. It’s a field where each year brings massive changes in the capabilities of machines, materials, software tools to design for additive, and the experiences, skills, innovations in the art of what’s possible.

So every product developer needs to refresh their knowledge of additive because 2023 will be yet another giant step along the journey.

stock image of additive technology( / @robwingate)

Finally, What About Augmented?

2023 will help augment the design engineer with computing tools that can turbocharge their work. One eponymous example is augmented reality. 

In 2023, live CAD modeling can be displayed in the real world via augmented reality built into product developers’ phones and tablets.

Cloud-native tools are increasingly providing massive computer power to augment the engineer for simulation, generative design, rendering, and more.  Stay tuned for cloud-powered improvements in CAM in 2023, as well.

This makes powerful computing much more easily and readily available to every engineer, everywhere. They won’t need to deal with tedious hardware acquisition, setup, maintenance, upgrades, service packs, versions, license codes, etc. They’ll have more power and it will be right there on their computer, tablet, or even a smartphone with no hassles, and in more quantity.  

These cloud-native design tools will augment their own talents to help them be the best product developer they can be – and the tools can be shared with anyone and everyone else they work with.

Any Final Words?

So, for 2023, of course, I’m excited about my “3 As” of rapid change for product developers: Agile process, Additive advances, and Augmented computing tools. But I’m even more excited by the great products that will be developed due to these 3 As!

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