Three reasons why CAD designers should be interested in quantum computing right now!


Ehningen is not exactly what you would describe as the centre of the world. The municipality in the Böblingen administrative district has almost 10,000 inhabitants, two streams called the Würm and the Krebsbach and a large bakery. However, this is only half the story, as Ehningen is also home to IBM’s German headquarters. And it has also been home to the first commercially usable quantum computer in Germany since June 2021.


A lot has been said about the IBM Quantum System One over the past few weeks, as well as what German industry is hoping this heralds. Reports of “ground-breaking possibilities when it comes to calculating molecular structures”, “quantum machine learning for the future of autonomous vehicles”, more precise weather forecasts or the end of our beloved traffic jams were widespread. But what about the computer-aided design sector? Can qubits and quantum algorithms open up new possibilities here, too? To cut a long story short: yes, we believe so. We have therefore compiled three reasons why you should look into quantum computing now.


Reason 1: Bye-bye, Prototyping


A quantum computer is powerful enough to simulate molecular statuses, structures or the interplay between these molecules – tasks which even binary supercomputers cannot complete. How does material A behave under condition B at time C? Tasks such as this one are currently primarily solved with complex prototypes, for example when developing more powerful batteries for electromobility applications. And prototyping is also a common method in CAD applications. The options provided in the virtual simulation will open up a new world from which materials sciences or material design can benefit – and therefore also the mechanical and plant engineering sector.

The finished prototype of a machine component.

Reason 2: 3D printing, as cool as possible


We will stay on the topic of prototyping, as these models can be produced using a 3D printer. The general problem here is that the printed parts come out of the printer at high temperatures and deform while they cool down. Deviations from the configured dimensions of just a few millimetres can render the printed part useless. This is where the benefits of the quantum computer come in. As already described in reason 1, the simulation power provided by the quantum computer can disassemble the component into many small particles prior to printing and calculate every single deformation. This means nothing is left to chance.

A 3D printer producing a geometric shape.

Reason 3: We already use the laws of quantum physics


Admittedly, the field of physics took a long time to decipher some of the really odd laws in a quantum world – and then had to accept them. However, once a friendship had been formed, quantum physics applications quickly spread into many different areas. Whether solar cells, GPS devices, MRI scans, fibre-optic networks or a good old laser pointer: all of them are based on quantum principles. The idea of a quantum computer is also not new, having its roots in the 1980s. Will everything now progress very quickly? We can only suppose so. Therefore, things are going to remain exciting and you should definitely keep up!

A solar energy plant.