The Greater Boston 3D Design Cluster


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Andover, MA
CEO: Peter Schroer

A small, Massachusetts-based company, Aras was the first to offer open-source product lifecycle management (PLM) software for Microsoft platforms. The company was founded 10 years ago and it started out as a traditional proprietary system. But the founders did not care much for marketing and selling—they loved programming—so in 2007 they decided to give their code away for free. Consulting and revenues from a partner network bring food to the table. A special feature in Aras is the built-in support for change management and quality planning.

The Aras Innovator suite consists of software for PLM, for quality and global supply  management. Being open source, it is hard to track the numbers of Aras’s users, but the software has been downloaded more than 31,000 times.

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Division
Waltham, MA
CEO: Carl Bass
Senior Vice President, AEC Solutions: Jay Bhatt

Autodesk was founded in 1982, and now has more than 9 millions users within manufacturing, building, infrastructure, media, and entertainment. Even for a company of Autodesk’s size, being one of the world biggest CAD companies, it has an astonishingly broad software portfolio, adding up to about 100 different programs for 2D and 3D design.

Revit, Autodesk’s software for conceptualizing and modeling new buildings, was originally created by engineers from Parametric Technology Corporation (see below) who left to start their own business. These engineers coined the term Building Information Modeling, or BIM, to connote the consistent sharing and and storage of information in building and construction projects. Autodesk acquired Revit in 2002. Navisworks, which aggregates multiple 3D models to provide real-time visualization and reviews, is another big product for the AEC segment. Europe is Autodesk’s biggest market, followed by the Americas and Asia/Pacific.

Kubotek USA
Marlborough, MA
CEO: Naotake Kakishita

Kubotek Corporation began as a medical electronics equipment company in 1979 in Japan. However, it developed its the 3D MCAD program, Cadkey, one of the first direct modeling systems, here in the United States. In 2004 Kubotek launched KeyCreator, the evolution to Cadkey, with enhanced functions for for the design of tooling, complex machinery, fixtures, molds, other equipment used by the CAD/CAM industry.

Natick, MA
CEO: Jack Little

MathWorks, founded 1984 by Jack Little and Cleve Moler, develops and supplies software for technical computing and model-based design, a method used for developing complex products. Matlab lets users carry out mathematical modeling in a range of areas from energy to space exploration to biotechnology, and MathWorks’ Simulink family of products helps with the modeling, simulation, and verification of semiconductor devices such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The programs are often used in conjunction with, and to verify, more complex CAD designs. MathWorks has over one millions users around the world, including researchers at 5,000 universities.

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Eva Regårdh is a tech journalist from Sweden. She is an Innovation Journalism Fellow 2010 at Stanford University and is working for Xconomy during her fellowship. Follow @

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