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

PLM opportunity for new CAD heroes

July 2, 2012

Pivoting. Are you familiar with this term? In a modern startup lingua franca, it means the management methods of making course correction when developing products. This term was pioneered by Eric Ries – Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the author of the book "The Lean Startup". Randall Newton of GraphicSpeak mentioned this book in his blog postearlier last week – GrabCAD, Sunglass, and ThinkerCAD are leading a CAD industry pivot. The following passage caught my attention:

Today’s start-ups in 3D CAD have the same vision of 3D becoming commonplace, but the strategy they follow has made a sharp pivot away from delivering a software product. The new kids on the block are skipping the deliverable and putting the experience of using and working in 3D inside the browser. WebGL and HTML5 are the two ingredients of the secret sauce making this pivot possible. HTML5 is the current generation Web programming language; WebGL is an application programming interface (API) for rendering interactive 3D graphics and requires HTML5.

Speaking about "pivots", they are not all the same. In the following Forbes article you can see a classification of 10 different pivoting options – Zoom-in, Zoom-out, Customer Segment, Customer need, Platform, Business architecture, Value capture, Engine of growth, Channel, Technology. At the first look, you may think solutions mentioned by GraphicSpeak all belong to the "technology pivot". Here is the definition:

Technology pivot. Sometimes a startup discovers a way to achieve the same solution by using a completely different technology. This is most relevant if the new technology can provide superior price and/or performance to improve competitive posture.

In my view, many CAD innovations were introduced as "technology pivot". If you remember the move from UNIX workstations to PC and from 2D to 3D enabled by the power of computers and graphic technologies.

PLM – Zoom out pivot?

When thinking about new 3D experience and browser technologies, I came to the point that new CAD technologies have an option to navigate what they do to so-called "Zoom-out" pivot. Here is the definition of that pivot:

Zoom-out pivot. In the reverse situation, sometimes a single feature is insufficient to support a customer set. In this type of pivot, what was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product?

An efficient access of CAD and 3D data is an important function in every PLM solution. To simplify the process of changes, manipulation, annotation and collaboration is crucial to deliver a good solution these days. New 3D CAD in-browser capabilities can be well positioned to provide an effective and practically available tool for everybody in the company (and not only to designers, as today’s 3D CAD systems deliver). It also will take the focus from "CAD in browser / cloud" discussion to something having much wider scope of deployment – product development processes.

What is my conclusion? Companies are interested in how to improve their product development processes. People are looking how to improve their experience. It seems to me zoom-out pivoting of 3D in the browser can deliver both. It still requires some technology prove to be done, so it will be very interesting to watch how in-browser CAD solution will become ubiquitous to delivery what companies and people want. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and 3D printing revolution

March 15, 2012

3D printing is an important and cool trend these days. For those who are not in the business of 3D Printing, navigate to the following wikipedia article to close the educational gap.

3D printing is a phrase used to describe the process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital file using a materials printer, in a manner similar to printing images on paper. The term is most closely associated with additive manufacturing technology, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material.[1] Recently the term is increasingly used to describe all types of additive manufacturing processes, or even other types of rapid prototyping technology.

It started almost 10 years ago, 3D printing became much stronger and considerably cheaper lately. I’ve been monitoring multiple publications and announcements related to 3D Printing. You can navigate to few of them – The silent revolution – 3D printing in the workplace and the home by Develop3D, 3D color printing as common as a wooded lot tick infestations. it’s coming by SolidSmack and few more.

The last one that caught my attention yesterday was Playing the 3-D printing revolution by By James Saft (Reuter). Have a read. The following passage was my favorite:

If it takes off, it could radically change global trade flows, delivering a huge boost to the indebted and aging developed world, while threatening the fundamentals which underpin manufacturing success in China and some other emerging markets. 3-D printing is a process under which highly customizable products are literally sprayed into existence using something not too dissimilar from an ink-jet printer. Originally used mostly to provide build prototypes, it is now being used for actual production, notably by a unit of EADS which is working on developing 3-D printing-produced aircraft parts. The advantages are huge: easier customization, lower labor costs and, potentially, a severing of the reliance on a supply chain, a feature of manufacturing since the days of Henry Ford.

You may ask me – what is the relationship to PLM? Here is my take. If EADS is working on how to develop 3-D printing produced aircraft parts, it is going beyond toys and exhibition souvenirs. If so, companies will have to apply some production flow and decision-making processes to make it efficient and cost-effective. It also opens an additional market for supply chain relationships for businesses to specialize in operating and maintaining 3D printing facilities.

What is my conclusion? 3D printing revolution can change lots of stable manufacturing relationships. Moving from one state to another will require some new processes in place to make it happen. Another wake-up call for PLM vendors and opportunity for new businesses. PLM perfect storm is coming. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

pic courtesy solidsmack / zcorp.

ERP and “Visual PLM” Weapon

March 13, 2012

PLM space is hyping these days. There are many news floating around about what happens in PLM industries these days. I captured some of the trends in my article PLM Perfect Storm 2012 couple of weeks ago. The picture presented by Gartner, shows two major ERP players laying beyond PLM companies and the rest of providers.

SAP and Oracle are huge software behemoths. Nevertheless, their PLM agendas become more and more interesting these days. Few days ago, I stumbled on the following announcement made by CENIT – CENIT Hands-on SAP PLM 7.02 Workshop. The content is quite interesting. Among regular process management and change management topics, the one that drove my special attention — SAP Visual Enterprise solutions (formerly Right Hemisphere acquired by SAP). Watch the following video. Even if I found it a bit marketing, you can get yourself educated about what route SAP takes in visualization.

Now, what about Oracle? If you remember, few years ago Oracle acquired Cimmetry via the acquisition of Agile Software, which forms so-called AutoVue Enterprise Visualization Solution.

What is my conclusion? I think, ERP vendors are moving towards a more “visual world”. The emerging need is clear – to compete with “big three” PLM vendors that can leverage in full their belonging to CAD and visual world. Will PLM solution from ERP providers become more competitive in the future? With the absence of brand new accounts, ERP-PLM will be going to discover undiscovered industries or compete on existing accounts owned by PTC, Dassault and Siemens PLM. “Visual weapon” will make this fight more interesting. 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

3D and Communication Strategy

August 24, 2011

Communication methods are interesting. These days lots of things are changing in this space. Internet, Web 2.0, Video communication converted some of our hottest dream to reality available in our everyday life. However, you can say – it is all about gadgets and toys. What modern CAD and PLM software can propose in the space of communication between engineers, designers and other people in manufacturing companies? 3D Mojo (the former blog of Seemage and now Dassault 3DVIA) brings the following topic on the table – 3DVIA 3D Communication Strategy Forum. So, what is this about? According to the 3DMojo teaser:

3DVIA will be hosting the 3D Communication Strategy Forum. This half-day event is designed to promote an open dialogue and exchange of ideas between 3DVIA product leaders and industry representatives who are interested in exploring the use of 3D product communications.

Open to all Dassault Systemes’ customers attending DSCC, the forum will provide attendees with a detailed 3DVIA brand and product strategy, along with an exclusive preview of upcoming 3DVIA mobile and cloud solutions. This will be followed by panel discussions on overcoming obstacles and establishing optimum workflows in enterprise 3D product communications.

The key term I read here is something called3D Product Communication. Let me guess. One of the 3DVIA products – 3DVIA composer is well known as a tool capable to convert 3D CAD objects into something that supposed to be much easy transferred between people in an organization, especially for people having no specific CAD skills. Examples are easy coming from manufacturing, marketing, sales, etc.

The answer I didn’t find in this passage is how 3D communication will become ubiquitous and independent of a specific software and formats. XVL, 3D PDF, JT Open – these formats weren’t mentioned. Is it part of Dassault 3D Communication strategy? One of the best books about that I had a chance to read was – 3D Manufacturing Innovation. If you have some time, find this book and have a read. Disconnecting 3D data from heavy CAD systems and making this data available for all people in the organization is considered as the most important objective that can significantly improve product quality and communication between engineering and manufacturing.

What is my conclusion? Multiple 3D CAD is the reality of the majority of manufacturing organizations. How to make the most efficient 3D product communication between people using these systems and other people in an organization sounds like an important task. I hope to learn more about this later this year and share it with you. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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