Shapr3D Redraws the Future of Mobile CAD Programs

September 26, 2023

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Shapr3D Redraws the Future of Mobile CAD Programs

Most people don’t put much thought into how the various products we use in our lives came to be. Despite the chronic overlooking of product design, it remains one of the most important parts of the development process.

Luckily, there remain people in the world who recognize how crucial product design is and have worked to create tools that make the lives of design and manufacturing easier. One such person is Akos Kapui, CTO at Shapr3D, a company that specializes in 3D modeling tools like Shapr3D CAD.

Hear it right from the source:

The Shapr3D CAD software has been in development since 2015 and is designed with a combination of a well-polished user interface and robust computing power. To further enhance the benefits of Shapr3D CAD and the overall future of mobile CAD, Shapr3D decided to port the tool to Windows on Snapdragon (WoS), which allows it to run on laptops and tablets powered by Snapdragon® Mobile Compute Platforms.

Innovation is King

High-performance computing is nothing new to the product design industry—according to Akos, it’s been in use since the 1960s. And CAD has been around for decades, though it has seen little in the way of significant updates in the last 20 years. CAD requires powerful processing units and lots of memory, which means processing workloads are very complex. Because of that, CAD programs could generally only run on Windows desktop PCs that were well-equipped enough to handle them.

But advancements in mobile technology have opened the door for new possibilities. Mobile processors such as the Snapdragon Mobile Compute Platforms have the computing power and energy efficiency needed to support CAD in a new way. As it stands, more than 95% of the CAD industry uses Windows. But Snapdragon mobile platforms can bring that power to users like Shapr3D’s customers, who Akos says are often on the go or making last-minute tweaks to their 3D models right before production.

This desire to expand the reach of Shapr3D to mobile users helped inspire the idea to make the tool accessible on portable Windows devices. And with the use of Windows on Snapdragon, Akos and his team can support low- and high-end devices without sacrificing performance rendering capability.

Trials and Tribulations of Porting

Shapr3D, which uses OpenGL, was initially released as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app that already supported multiple processors. But, according to Akos, the addition of Windows on Snapdragon support has been mostly smooth sailing aside from expected common porting issues, like adjusting to how different platforms handle various data types.

During the porting process, one area Akos and his team focused on was handling non-native 64-bit dependencies, pushing the authors of such dependencies to implement them natively where they could. When that wasn’t an option, the Shapr3D team enveloped the use of those dependencies into an interface and divided implementation according to platform. The team also ran external Win32 libraries, which Shapr3D communicates with, via Windows’ x86 emulation, enabling most of the app to remain native 64-bit.

Having now been through the paces of porting to Windows on Snapdragon, Akos recommends that other developers looking to do the same invest in the technology foundation early and leverage continuous integration (CI) techniques to perform any updates or code base changes. Additionally, Akos is interested in seeing organizations responsible for open-source library modifications work natively on Windows on Snapdragon and push their changes back into their repositories to assist other companies and enhance the Windows on Snapdragon developer community.

There are several immediate benefits to porting your apps to Windows on Snapdragon including:

  • Far longer run times
  • Qualcomm® Adreno™ GPU for advanced graphics
  • Qualcomm® Hexagon™ DSP for dedicated hardware-accelerated AI, with quad Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX) processor for vision processing and machine learning
  • 5G and Wi-Fi6 connectivity.

For more information see the Windows on Snapdragon Developer Portal.

Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.