Shaping the Future of Design

How István Csanády’s Shapr 3D brought pro-grade CAD to the iPad.

With Shapr 3D, István Csanády found a way to bring pro-grade 3D computer-aided design (CAD) to the masses.

“For the past 30 years, literally nothing has happened in the CAD industry,” says the Budapest-based developer. “When you’re trying to disrupt an industry, you have to find the vacuum. For CAD, that was in the user experience and in mobility. iPad was the perfect platform for this.”

“This is how CAD should work in 2020,” says Shapr 3D developer István Csanády.

Running CAD software has generally required a desktop computer with considerable processing power. Shapr 3D changes that with unparalleled performance, compatibility with all major CAD file formats, and instant export for 3D printing.

The app also makes the design experience incredibly tactile, especially with Apple Pencil. Whether crafting a face mask, a hot rod, or an architectural project, you’ll feel like you’re really manipulating these virtual objects—and you can do it all on the move.

Engineering, Csanády says, has simply been in his blood ever since he started 3D modeling at the age of 12. “There’s a line from Bane in the last Batman movie,” he says, dropping his voice to a sinister growl. “I was born in it, molded by it.”

Shapr 3D began in small rooms (and on even smaller couches), but it’s growing fast. The company added more than three dozen employees this year.

He was molded by something else too: For two decades, Csanády has been at the launch of pretty much every new Apple product or service. He was in line early for the original iPod; he was there when his brother-in-law purchased the first-generation iPhone on day one.

He’s also one of the original App Store developers: Three days after the store’s launch in July 2008, Csanády’s “Retro Game Pack,” which featured takes on Pong, Space Invaders, and Tetris, was live.

“The first time I got an iPhone in my hands, it was obvious this was going to be the future,” he says. “I got obsessed with these new interfaces, and I decided I would start trying to create applications for it.”

He started by founding a CAD startup (and precursor to Shapr 3D) that didn’t pan out, then took a full-time gig. But by 2014, he’d begun hearing rumors about a forthcoming pro-grade iPad. “I made a big bet on this,” he says with a laugh.

Shapr 3D can handle everything from bikes to bulldozers.

“Big” might be underselling it: Csanády quit his job and resumed work on a 3D CAD application for multitouch and stylus interaction, driven by a hunch that the coming iPad Pro was the ideal platform for his work. “In the 1980s and ’90s, we shifted from big mainframe computers to desktops, then we shifted from desktop computers to tablets,” he says.

Shapr 3D launched in March 2016 and has become an invaluable tool for mechanical engineers, industrial designers, and pro-level users. Things are moving fast: The company has added more than three dozen employees in 2020.

“The best feedback we get says, ‘This is what I’ve been waiting for. This is how CAD should work in 2020,’” Csanády says. “We want Shapr to be a transformative solution.”

Download Shapr 3D on iPad.