Not Your Father’s Drafting Table

By Cliff
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WARNING: Old-School Alert! This article will be talking about old-school design work… yes, designing before the use of 3D software…when we drew on paper, and created prototypes by hand.

Long before 3D Printing…before I was in the 3D software industry, and even before I used 3D software on a regular basis, we built prototypes by hand.  I can vividly remember one project, in my first job fresh out of college.  I was freelancing for a very small product design firm.  We were up against a deadline on a proposal for a potentially large project, working late nights on a scaled model, which would have taken us probably 2 days, or less, if we had a 3D Printer.  I remember finishing this fragile model the night before it had to be shipped across country.  The prototype sat in my back seat, cushioned with blankets, as I drove it to the airport to ship, because this was after delivery truck hours.

I’m sure plenty of old-school Product Designers out there remember these stresses, the smells of the model glue, and countless Xacto knife cuts on your fingers.

The Evolution of Prototyping…

Then along came 3D CAD, which made designing must faster, and being able to see products in 3D, on the screen.  Rendering these 3D models was usually an overnight computing process, but it was better than markers and pens (and more headaches).  The next step in visualizing 3D models, was 3D Printing.  Seeing a live model in your hand was a huge advantage to a rendering, however, 3D Printing often requires Xacto blades and painting.

Today, I rarely use an Xacto knife, and have many less headaches from the model glue, and NEVER have to run to the FedEx for overnight prototype shipping.

In 2011, almost every designer uses a computer. Shipping a prototype across country, or the world, can be replaced with placing a 3D design on the web, and sharing a link.  The ability to share data instantaneously is a huge advantage for business.  However, for Product Designers, seeing a model on the web is still not as pragmatic as seeing a design in person.  Being able to walk around a new product and seeing it from every angle requires a physical prototype.

This was the reason 3DVIA created Post3D.  It is the first product which allows Product Designers, and Consumer Product companies to see a product in-context, in a real setting, before any physical prototypes have been built.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Post3D yourself, I encourage you to go for it!

And if you have, what did you think? Does it match our old glue smell memories?

Best,

Cliff

Sunlight on Imagina 2011

By Michael
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Monaco in the south of France is an attractive venue especially this time of the year when people living in places further north are hungry for some Mediterranean sun beams.

During my one day here I not only was able to see trees filled with oranges during what elsewhere is called winter (see my iPhone shot for a proof), I also had the pleasure to visit the Imagina 2011 event and exhibition, and to get updated on the latest news in 3D simulation and visualization solutions.

I wanted to share with you my personal impression and what stood out for me during my technofair walk-around:

1.) Convergence of the Physical and Virtual Content

During the visit of the vendor exhibition I’ve seen solutions targeted to digitize real objects, and to transfer them into a virtual environment – for augmenting the value of such application.

Objects range from whole  landscapes (for geo localization systems), houses to whole cities (in architecture and construction, city development), any industrial object (for reverse engineering) and also living objects (for health care applications).

To illustrate the point I choose a company called Topcon. They offer scanning solutions to digitize physical objects up to the size of a mountain range with an equipment in a fixed position.

In contrast to the statical use above, the equipment also can be mounted on a car and thus become a mobile data acquisition unit.

When cruising a city the whole environment can be digitized in 360° (other than Google’s service which consists of patch-worked 2D images) and the data are used to create a full 3D model of the recordings.

Imagine how a digitized environment of real 3D can add value to a virtual experience. It just gets more real.

See the video to understand how that works:

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Looking at the the digital environments and virtual worlds presented to visitors at Imagina I have seen many efforts to let the 3D scenarios and characters show a maximum of realism. 3D geometries, colors and surfaces, human-like movements. Everything is done to convey the perception that the “virtual is real“, to draw the user into the scenario.

Most realistic presentation of virtual content makes use of  stereoscopic projection (needs glasses) and 3D screens (without glasses, and more and more convenient to look at), enabling power of graphics accelerators, innovative combination of standard hardware components to accomplish user immersion (AMD/ATI Eyefinity, can be visited at Dassault Systèmes Campus in Vélizy), and finally immersion by multi-touch navigation or full body use.

Dassault Systèmes runs a partnership program with leading manufacturers of devices and technologies which helps to drive this integration of physical and virtual environments. Lifelike experience needs the means to accomplish interaction of users and virtual applications.

2.) 3D Industry Applications

Imagina, as I was told, used to be a show for artists, designers and movie makers. Now my impression is that those are outnumbered by people who are interested in solving challenges in key industrial processes, such as design, simulation, manufacturing – with the help of 3D virtual environments.

Further, there is the application area of 3D simulation which allows for behavioral studies of objects in environments. Examples are traffic simulation in urban environments, or the analysis of panic scenarios in underground transportation for security optimization.

Applications in virtual learning, also called serious gaming, are used for service simulation and enable the use of products before they are physically available. Trainees are able to experience an environment which is not yet real, in a distant location or not readily accessible. Instead, trainees can visit the virtual copy.

As an example I’ll show an example for such a learning experience on an oil rig (built with 3DVIA) where the crew can be prepared for what awaits them there:

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3.) Dedicated Solutions

This may be neither surprising nor new – but generally good news:  there is no general “one size fits all” 3D solution to meet all objectives at once. With the increasing capabilities of today’s 3D applications there is an increasing focus on users: what they need, what they can handle, what they do not want.

It’s all about using 3D as a media. But applications are very different dependent on which industry segment is served, which are the application domains (ranging from engineering to marketing communication to artistic use) and last but not least who are the people who become users.  As people are vastly different there is a rich variety of solutions specializing on different uses of 3D. Clients need good guidance to find what is right for them.

Dassault Systèmes has been at Imagina 2011 as a platinum sponsor with our 3D solutions to support human-centered sustainable innovation and development. Some of our alliances partners were present too: AMD, ESI, Immersion, Noomeo, nVidia, Optis and Wacom.

P’tit bonbon for you: Trailer of the TRON legacy movie which was projected during the Wednesday evening party at Imagina. Unfortunately you’ll not have it in 3D (yet).

The original TRON dates from 28 years ago and presented this crazy idea of bringing a guy, via laser scan, into the virtual environment created by a “computer system”. At Imagina 2011 I could see that we are not so far away from making this a reality.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Best,
Michael

Desjoyeaux’s Crash Box and 3DVIA Composer

By Marc
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Ten days into the Barcelona World Race (a doubled-handed race around the world which started on December 31st), Michel Desjoyeaux called his technical team in France to inform them of a problem on his boat. He and his sailing mate François Gabart had hit an Unidentified Floating Object (UFO) which ripped the carbon material off the boat’s crash box.

The crash box is a relatively new addition to offshore sailboats. It’s a watertight box filled with high density and extremely resistant PVC.  Normally  in the case of such a frontal collision, the crash box  would protect the boat’s lower stem from damage.  This is important to prevent leaking, and ultimately sinking.

UFOs pose an increasing problem for boats at sea, so the crash box works as a bumper. However Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart had to repair their crash box to avoid any further problem that could’ve forced them to abandon when entering the South Seas.

Michel and François were not too far from Brazil when the problem appeared, so they quickly decided to organize a ‘pit stop’ in Recife. Within 48hours, part of the technical team arrived in Recife to prepare all the logistics. They needed to find the best place to lift the boat and repair it. At the same time, a brand new PVC part was manufactured in case they needed to replace entirely the crash box.

The technical crew planned two repair options. If the PVC part was damaged, the whole crash box would be replaced. If only the carbon material was damaged, then they would simply cover the existing foam with new carbon material.

Thanks to 3DVIA Composer, the video below was sent by Michel Desjoyeaux and his team to the press so they could understand what exactly was planned to fix the boat. 3DVIA Composer could also have been used between Michel and his team to share and better understand the problem or even to train the Brazilian correspondent on how to repair the crash box. This is a good example of how 3D can be a universal language!

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Eighteen hours after their arrival in Recife, Michel and François were back into the race with a “new” boat nose. And within just 5 days, they were leading the race, having gained 9 positions in the ranking!

If you want to learn more on how Dassault Systèmes helped Michel Desjoyeaux, check out the dedicated website at www.3ds.com/desjoyeaux.

Thanks to 3DVIA Virtools, you will also have the opportunity to get on board the 60 foot monohull in real-time 3D and even participate yourself to the Barcelona World Race with Michel Desjoyeaux in a 3D experiential serious game.  We will tell you more about this serious game soon and in the meantime, you can follow Michel Desjoyeaux’s ranking in the real race.

Best,

Marc

Marc Pavageau is Dassault Systèmes’ online marketing and communication director.



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