Product development uses the engineering design process to conceptualize and design new products, while relying on computer-aided application tools like CAD/CAE/CAM that are unfortunately designed for single users. In the absence of multiuser engineering applications, this paper uses surveys and facility visits to show an increased reliance on social communication tools for closing design collaboration feedback loops. Product development requires collaboration among myriad personnel and organizations, each having unique complementary experiences and capabilities. Collaborative design has a primary goal: reduce time-to-market and competitive costs for new products, while retaining quality of product performance and minimizing environmental impact. The focus of this paper is to compare contemporary methods and tools used in collaborative product design at notable corporations to emerging multiuser computer-aided applications. This comparison will define a future where design mistakes and time-to-market are reduced, collaboration is not only truly concurrent, but simultaneously concurrent, and where design rationale is more easily captured and shared for later review and for educational training.

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