Written by Patricia Skinner
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Engineering Software

The revolution in engineering and product design is centered around sophisticated and very comprehensive CAD software, and other programs that together are often known as virtual product development tools (VPD). Most of us who are not fully acquainted with the engineering design world can scarcely imagine just to what degree it is now possible to follow a product right through from concept to final production stage using VPD only. It's such an amazing concept that it is hard to grasp.

VPD has made engineering design of all sorts quicker, easier, cheaper and above all, a lot safer than it ever was in the days before computers. To begin with, there is no longer any need, or even opportunity, for any overworked member of a design team to skip a stage, make a mistake, or otherwise introduce an element of inaccuracy into the design process. Good engineering, no matter what the field, relies on accuracy and thoroughness.

What VPD Means to Design

The range of computer software programs that are used by engineers as part of the VPD process all help to eliminate the element of human weakness that was almost always the cause of engineering failures in the past. That is not to say, of course, that VPD has completely eliminated failure, but that it has made it a great deal less likely.

Although design projects still have to produce a physical prototype prior to production, that is what it is; just one prototype in most cases. In the past, it was not uncommon for hundreds of prototypes to be painstakingly produced for any given project. This has completely been eliminated now that the VPD facility allows engineering teams to work out all the bugs before the final prototype is put together.

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