2D-3D CAD Transformations and Design Interaction

September 13, 2013

I want to continue the topic of design interaction started in my CAD and Design Interaction: 50 years in 3 videos post. CAD software started as a vision to replace drawing board and, eventually, it was 2D. 3D CAD and the vision of 3D design came later in the game. It wasn’t simple to create 3D objects in first 3D wireframe CAD packages. Solid feature parametric modeling was a huge innovation open a new page in 3D design and design interaction. However, I can see a new trend – we can re-create 3D objects from physical objects and / or photographs of physical objects. To have an easy way to recreate 3D objects can increase the level of adoption of 3D design software. Until now, my only experience in this field was Autodesk 123d Catch.

By itself, it is an amazing tool to create 3D objects. However, if you’ve been listening to startup pitches, you probably familiar with the phrase "there is a better way". From Huff post publication few days ago, I learned about Israeli company 3-sweep claiming they can create 3D objects from a single 2D photo by making only few selections. Watch the video. It is cool and impressive.

Here is how founders of the company defines their approach:

"Our approach combines the cognitive abilities of humans with the computational accuracy of the machine to solve this problem. Our technique provides the user the means to quickly create editable 3D parts– human assistance implicitly segments a complex object into its components, and positions them in space."

Read another article from Singularity Hub. Here is an interesting passage confirming the intent of 3-Sweep technologies:

Ariel Shamir, of the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, and Daniel Cohen-Or and Tao Chen of Tel Aviv University hope to knock that barrier down with software they’ve developed that allows the user to extract the beginnings of a 3-D model of an object from a single photograph. “The key idea is that you could create 3D objects based only on single images,” Shamir told Singularity Hub. “We wanted a model that would be simple for almost anyone to use.”

What is my conclusion? The debates about moving from 2D into 3D are already couple of decades long and jury is still out. In last few years 3D scanning became an interesting trend. While price of 3D scanners is going down together with 3D printers, the opportunity of 3D object creation from existing physical objects becomes real. However, the size is still matter. Also, it is not always possible to scan a physical object. The ability to recreate 3D objects from simple 2D photos can revolutionize design process by bringing another way to interact and design objects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD and Design Interaction: 50 years in 3 videos

September 7, 2013

My father was engineer. As a child, I’ve been coming to my dad’s office to watch how engineers designed metallurgical plants and heavy industrial machines. Back that days, the design was all about drawing boards and paper. Fast forward in our days. Lots of things changed. Our design interaction is not with a paper anymore. Computers made a revolution by transforming design interaction completely. Since first graphical displays were introduces back in 1960s, the idea of how people can interact with design system evolved into completely different process.

First, it moved from paper to 2D CAD. Later it transformed from 2D into 3D. It started from graphic pen and digitizers, evolved into use of different styles of mouses, moved to multi-touch displays. Finally, modern devices introduced a completely new way to interact with design systems and computers. We started to think about how to design using some magic hands gestures.

Earlier this week, I watched a very interesting video by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla motors. Read this post – Elon Musk on the future of design: motion gestures, 3D viewing and 3D printing. Thanks SolidSmack for sharing this video.

Here is how this technology explained – SpaceX is exploring methods for engineers to accelerate their workflow by designing more directly in 3D. This device is integrating sensor and visualization technologies to view and modify designs more naturally and efficiently than we could using purely 2D tools. This is just a beginning, but eventually SpaceX hope to build the fastest route between the idea of a rocket and the reality of the factory floor.

This video made me think about distance CAD industry passed since first invention of graphic design interaction. It was always about simplicity and user experience. The very early appearance of graphic design interaction is dated by 1963 when Ivan Sutherland presented his Sketchpad.

Here is a description of the technology. This work was seminal in Human-Computer Interaction, Graphics and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), Computer Aided Design (CAD), and constraint/object-oriented programming. It is important to remember what type of the computer you see in this video. It was TX-2 computer (built circa 1958) on which the software ran was built from discrete transistors (not integrated circuits -it was room-sized) and contained just 64K of 36-bit words (~272k bytes).

Now, let’s move forward 30 years. Back in 1990s, Microsoft Windows became a mainstream platform. SolidWorks was pioneering in creation of design interaction using standard Windows technology. The idea was to make it easy to learn and use by engineers. Watch another remarkable video (thanks Rick Chin for making it available on Youtube). In this video John Hirschtick (SolidWorks founder) and Rick Chin are demonstrating SolidWorks on Windows together with Bill Gates.

I found Rick’s commentary to this video on Youtube interesting. In 1998, Microsoft had an event to show the world that Windows NT was ready for industrial strength enterprise work. Jon Hirschtick was invited to demonstrate SolidWorks to Bill Gates on stage as part of this event. I was incredibly fortunate to join them and be a part of the demo. As you will see in the demo, Jon Hirschtick is a master at making the complex simple, compelling, and very relevant to everyone watching.

What is my conclusion? It is amazing to see the speed of innovation in design interaction. These three videos demonstrated a huge distance computers and design technologies passed for the last 50 years. However, you cannot stop the innovation. Just look around. New computers, new interaction devices, cloud, mobile – all these elements can create a new generation of design interaction these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Historical Perspective: From Ivan Satherland to Modern 2D/3D Sketch Apps

November 27, 2011

The announcement made by Dassault System last week, made me think about a huge distance CAD industry passed for the almost 50 years, since Ivan Sutherland first time demonstrated “Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”.

In order to prevent a discussion between Autodesk Alias and CATIA Sketch folks, I just decided to put these two videos. I think, in terms of contrasts, they are both valid comparison to what was done 50 years ago.

What is my conclusion? There are no conclusions on Sunday :). I’m prepping for AU2011 and even more to speak at AU Innovation Forum on Tuesday. For those who are on the way to Las Vegas, hope to catch up and see you there.

Best, Oleg


Top 3 Reasons Why Data Sharing is Important for PLM

July 15, 2011

I want to talk today about data sharing. The interest of engineers and other people in manufacturing organization in data sharing is obvious. However, I think demand is much higher than available tools. It doesn’t mean there are no tools that can help you to share some elements or your 2D, 3D, Bill of Materials or other product data. At the same time, tools in the market are very vendor oriented and specialized to support different formats and applications.

What Tools Are Around?

The top question I had been asked many times when visiting customers – can you export data to Excell? The question is not simple, but very important. Customers are looking for ubiquitous tools that can help them to share any data. Excel is well understood. Almost every PDM/PLM tool supports some elements of data share. The complexity is probably another question. However, Excel is the kind. When it comes to 2D/3D, questions become more complicated – type of data, CAD system, purpose of share, precision, etc. – this is only a short list of questions.

I have no intent to provide a full list of data share or collaborative tools. Even so, I wanted to mention few last updates in this space. Few days ago, Autodesk made available their next product allowing instant and easy share of DWF files – Autodesk QuickShare (QS). Navigate your browser to the following links – It is alive in the Lab by Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard to read more details. You can try it on Windows, but as I understand, technologies (webgl) limiting to use 3D on Mac. Another project recently released by Dassault / SolidWorks is n!Fuze. This product is available on the cloud. However, if Autodesk has a strong focus on DWF format, n!Fuze is more focused on SolidWorks files (however, the tool is not supposed to limit usage of other files). To point of one of the tools that not belongs to top CAD/PLM vendors, I wanted to point on CadFaster. CadFaster provides product to collaborate, supports multiple CAD platforms and provides mobile applications as well. Navigate to the following link to see what CadFaster viewer can support.

Data Sharing and PLM Strategies

Here is my take on top three reasons why you need to invest in data – sharing tools and how it can be related to PLM strategy in your company.

1. Decision Making. This is probably the most important and easy thing. You need to have an access to the data in order to take decisions. Project review, Change request, Maintenance, Support Call, Design review, etc. – you better be able to have an access to your information.

2. Process Streamline. Your organization needs to work in a most efficient way. Which means – you need to focus on process and communication. The efficient communication and process organization is the must be here. If you have a tool to share data, you probably going to spend less time in communication.

3. Global development support. The time when all people in your organization were located in the same building is over. Now, people can be located everywhere globally. To have an easy access to the data from multiple places is another must requirement these days.

What is my conclusion? Even if it sounds simple, don’t underestimate the importance of data sharing. Like a lifeblood, data sharing can help you to work or die in a modern product development and manufacturing environment. What should be your choice? My take – the simpler solution is probably better. CAD/PDM/PLM world is full of complicated tools. Choose two factors – format support and simplicity as a first priority. The third one is probably system support. You cannot go wrong, with these three factors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Autodesk, Dassault and Free CAD Options?

May 14, 2011

It is almost two years passed since I put on my blog a question about FREE as a best future CAD/PLM. Navigate to the following link to read my PLM Prompt: Is Free the Future of PLM? I’m monitoring ideas coming of this FREE space. There are few interesting events that happen in this space, that caught me to think again about that.

DraftSight

Last year, Dassault Systems released DraftSight, a free CAD Software for your DWG files. In addition to that, Dassault introduced an idea of community where people can exchange ideas. Dassault introduced the platform called 3DSwYm (See What You Mean). Draft Sight community is one of available communities on the 3DSwYm. The following video gives you some information and feeling about what Dassault sees behind the DraftSight.

You can see a new CEO of SolidWorks, Bertrand Sicot is talking about the level of DraftSight adoption: 300000 downloads, 66000 activations, 16000 members of DraftSight community.

Autodesk 123dapp

A couple of weeks ago, Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass attended Wierd Business Conference. You can read an interview with Carl Bass by navigating to the following link. At this conference Carl Bass announced the launch of a new consumer product called 123dapp. Here is my favorite passage from Car’s interview:

A free, downloadable design tool, 123D allows anyone to design 3-D models, and then turn them into real-life products.“It usedthat in order to make things you needed these big expensive machines,” Bass said. “Now you can produce things at highquality, at relatively low volume and relatively low cost.”

You can see a fragment of the interview with Carl Bass on the following video.

What is my take on this? I think we can see a very interesting dynamic. Both Autodesk and Dassault are playing with the power of free options on the competitor’s side. Known as a strong provider of 3D CAD (both CATIA and SolidWorks), Dassault released 2D CAD for DWG files for free to attract AutoCAD users. On the other side, the introduction of 3D CAD free downloadable 3D design tool, by Autodesk – a king of 2D draft package (AutoCAD) is another interesting step, which is probably has an intent to disrupt 3D CAD business on the low end. I hope to learn more about 123dabc as well as about future Free CAD products in 2d and 3d. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Will Google Docs Goes 3D?

February 28, 2011

Few days ago, I attended webinar One the Edge with Cadalyst – MCAD Smackdown: Direct vs .Parametric CAD. Navigate to the following link to listed the recorded podcast. An interesting comment was made by one of the attendees during the conversation about what is the better 3D option – 2D simply works. Yes, 2D works and surprisingly drives more attentions nowadays. My hunch, the reason why it happens is simple- mainstream. The same reason why DS just released DraftSight 2D CAD package to be available for free download.

I read Google Docs blog few days ago – 12 new formats in Google Docs Viewer. Here is the list:

  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
  • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
  • TrueType (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)

Autodesk DXF format exists for years and used by many people to exchange 2D information. By supporting this and some other image formats Google Docs put additional stakes into the future of Google Docs as a mainstream collaborative tool in manufacturing and construction.

What is my take? Google’s target is to serve "individuals" with best tools. Everybody considers Google as a "consumer oriented" company. However, thinking about individual consumers, they can work in manufacturing companies too. To provide them with productivity tools helping them to get a job done can be an interesting option… Do you think, Google will add 3D format support to their viewer? A good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Alert: Google Image Swirl User Experience

November 18, 2009

Short alert on Google Labs Releasing Swirl. Google Image Swirl allows you to organize and search images. Official Google’s blog announcement is here. You can run Google Swirl from here.

I think, this user experience can be kind of beneficial for engineers working on 3D and 2D drawings.

Just my thoughts. What is your opinion on that?

Best, Oleg


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