Until recently, if you wanted to create and interact with a three-dimensional model of a physical object, you had to either buy or download a CAD product. From the free and popular SketchUp to the famous—and famously expensive—Catia, an entire industry has grown along with the computer revolution to deliver 3D modeling and viewing ability to engineers, architects, product designers and enthusiasts. The simplest of these programs run on a consumer-class PC; the brawniest requires the best workstations on the market.
Several young CAD companies, one which won’t be out of private beta until next week, are delivering a significant challenge to the established order in 3D CAD. They are delivering 3D CAD tools without delivering a software product to the desktop or tablet; instead they deliver a browser-based experience, no supporting download required. To use a hot Silicon Valley buzzword, an industry pivot is happening right under our noses.