Eco-Documentation for a Healthier Planet

By Robert

DS sustainabilityAs the vision of ‘3D for All’ empowers stakeholders across the organization to share, collaborate, and create content off of a single-version of the truth, another key advantage surfaces. While it is easy for any one individual to make choices about whether to consume information electronically or to ‘print a hard copy’ for review, the processes built into many organizational business models can force individuals, groups or entire businesses to consume massive amounts of tangible (and non-eco-friendly) resources in the form of printed materials.

I definitely see that there are clear benefits in the approach when we go from manual printed documentation to interactive documentation directly linked to 3D and digital Intellectual Property (IP) for reducing errors, eliminating cycle-time, and simplifying processes. The ability to transform 200 pages of manufacturing assembly instructions into a brief, step-by-step interactive 3D experience has value for both the content creators as well as the consumers of the information.

The same approach and efficiencies for Manufacturing are available to all stakeholder organizations in the company whether they be Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Training or any other target audience.

What comes along as an additional benefit in this approach is the elimination of a commonly taken for granted resource – paper.

Like electricity, water or any other consumable resource, paper has a cost and an impact. For example, consider that the typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. If we extrapolate this to a 1,000 person workforce, we are using 10 million sheets of paper.

The conversion of raw trees to pulp to packaged paper has an impact on the environment. Some estimates show that making one ton of paper requires four trees and emits more than 1.5 tons of CO2e, in addition to consuming other resources. This is not including the shipping, storage and other environmental side-effects. Real life mirrors the TV show “The Office” where a paper company is the central theme for not only a lot of laughs, but also a lot of raw paper sales.

3DVIA ComposerA real-life example of this is NACCO Materials Handling Group, Inc. (NMHG), who uses 3DVIA Composer every day to give their non-technical users direct access to 3D CAD data to develop effective, interactive communications and documentation. Besides reducing errors, eliminating cycle-time, and simplifying processes, NACCO may also be helping us heal the planet – one-step at a time.

Every little bit helps when it comes to the environment, and Eco-Documentation may be one way that can contribute.

Do you agree that this is the path to a healthier planet?

High Tech companies (or other) looking to understand the value that 3DVIA Composer can offer should attend an upcoming e-seminar on Sept 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT. Click here to register today!



Car development is child’s play!

By Jonathan

So, your teenage children go surfing on a gamers’ forum and read about a cool new driving game. You buy it for them, but any gamer knows that that is never enough…you have to go back to the forum and download all the free patches to improve textures of the virtual racing cars or to add new circuits, or even to transform the original Formula 1 game into a Grand Prix Legends game by re-using the vehicle dynamics engine. Yeah, you say, nothing new here…open source software development is well established now.

But what about doing this with car development, i.e. something solid and real that can’t simply be downloaded?

Imagine…you’ve got an idea for a next generation car and you work for a big car manufacturer. You go and file for patent to protect the idea. You get a small team to develop the concept, you build prototypes to test the idea. In the mean time you hope no one steals the idea. You put it into to production and your company makes millions of them hoping that people will buy you product, but customers “should” come…after all you’ve done the market research. If they do buy then jackpot.

But what about a small company that also has a really good idea and doesn’t want it to die like so many other ideas have done in the past? Where can you find the time, people and money to develop and manufacture cars today that people want tomorrow? Well maybe you should be developing and manufacturing open source!

Take Riversimple and c,mm,n they have a similar approach to developing their vehicles. It’s all very new, they are opening up their ideas to communities for feedback, innovation, partnerships, you name it.

Perhaps you’re like me, in the good old days you worked in a design office but now you’re mostly doing emails and presentations, well here’s your chance to design again. You don’t have to do it full time, maybe only a couple of hours a week. Just connect to the design community; comment & vote on other people’s designs, make you own designs, invite others to do the same. The whole point is that the product is being developed by a huge and diverse community who in the end of the day are getting the product that they want and the manufacturers are selling a product that is wanted!

This is just a short post as I’d like to get your opinions before moving on…so please comment.

Sustainably yours,

See my related post on Riversimple

3D Format Wars! COLLADA (.dae)

By Cliff

WARNING: Geek-talk Alert! This article contains serious geek-talk. If you start feeling dizzy from this post, please consult your closest 3D artist/designer/engineer professional for an explanation. Be prepared for a lengthy response.

This may be some serious geek-talk, but it’s serious business for so many. With today’s computing power, Internet speed, and Web collaboration tools, the need for a standard 3D exchange format is serious business. Professionals need information quickly, and if that information comes to slow, you can lose money. In our world (of 3D), we cannot accept phrases like “we cannot export format XX, we only use YY”.

The Engineering industry has finally nailed down a good standard (STEP) for exchanging 3D geometry and project data (I know, IGES is still useful, but STEP is better in most cases–see my video on IES vs. STEP here). However, the Digital Content Creation (DCC) industry has yet to pronounce a clear winner. Also, there is a clear need for a standard from Engineering 3D models to DCC applications: What format is best here? The reuse of engineering data for marketing (renderings, animations, video, print) is a very common (and often problematic) function within our industry.

I believe there has recently been a front runner here: COLLADA’s .dae format. Yes, I know there are many other useful exchange formats, and if they work for you, use them, but I since I have been using COLLADA (.dae) as my exchange format, I have had no issues…seriously.

I believe that COLLADA is inching ahead, and will be the “STEP” for DCC. I’m sure I will receive a lot of rebuttals on this, but that’s good, we welcome the discussion. Why do I think .dae is the clear standard? Two reasons: 1) Most common 3D DCC applications can already import/export .dae, and 2) The format is not owned by a corporation, but a consortium – the Kronos Group, who handles COLLADA (.dae format) who will continue to expand the format for future uses (more on that here).

Let me give more detail: Photoshop users can import .dae files as 3D layers, Google’s .kmz format is really a compressed .dae file, and all the major 3D DCC applications for gaming and movies/video, can all import .dae. And recently, 3DVIA (so odd that I would mention 3DVIA, huh?) now allows download of any 3D model as a COLLADA .dae. This is BIG, because 3DVIA imports almost all 3D formats (click here for list), so 3DVIA can work as an online conversion tool.

Why is the 3DVIA download functionality important? Say you are a graphic artist, web designer working internally or externally for an engineering firm developing a Product-X. You were given the 3D model of Product-X from the engineer who built the model with an engineering application (i.e. SolidWorks, CATIA). You can ask the engineer to send you the 3D model (which will NOT open in your DCC application). You could ask for a .dae file OR you could upload the native engineering file to, where you could then download a .dae file to use.

Okay, that’s enough geek-talk from me, but I know there are plenty of you who have more to add on this topic. Maybe you have new information? I encourage you to add a comment, as it is quite possible I forgot to mention something…just maybe. ;^)

Also, check out my Cliff’s Clips video, which details more about the uses for .dae.


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