The cutting edge of design blurs the transition from design to reality.
It has been many years since 3D, parametric CAD systems became mainstream. Advances in ray tracing technology have allowed photo-realistic renderings to aid in marketing and sales before a product is ever made. The latest evolution is digital prototyping. This allows companies to test the movement capabilities of a device or machine long before the first cut is made. Form, fit and function can be tested, and the information relayed, more quickly and at a lower cost than ever before. Videos can be made that show how a mechanism works, useful for promotional videos, presentations, and as a useful tool to help describe complex mechanisms to any audience.
As the cost of materials and manufacturing continues to rise the use of digital prototyping is exploding. Across the industry, engineers and executives alike are becoming comfortable with the technology, allowing faster design cycles with lower risks. Of course, in the end, nothing will ever beat a full prototype as a descriptive and sales tool, especially in the final design and manufacturing stages. However, designer now have the power to sort out bad ideas through low cost digital prototypes to make sure they never make it to the later design stages.