Next Generation Product Development Tools, Part 5

As the previous two entries were very much about the meatspace side of the equation and there was basically no discussion regarding the digital in “digital direct manufacturing”, I want to address that now. In addition, I want to expand from the relatively limited idea of “manufacturing” (which has certain connotations) to the broader idea of creating for the physical world; from artificial hearts to architectural wonders, from accessories to aircraft.

Rather than talk about the digital component that unites all these endeavors, I’ll rely on videos to show some of the different ways digital information is integrated into various development processes.

The Digital Component of Meatspace – Virtual Modeling

When most people think of digital 3D whatever, they tend to think of someone laboriously sculpting videogame models or creatures for some Hollywood blockbuster; something along the lines of what’s shown in this ZBrush speedmodeling test:

Or they imagine some technical geek sitting in front of a computer (listening to painfully lame music) slaving over a CAD application to model a manufacturable object; as in this Pro/ENGINEER video:

Sometimes people think of architecture, though I suspect there’s a lingering romantic perception of dashing young architects sitting at drafting tables, wielding their pencils and working late into the night before a big client meeting; however, that industry hasn’t been idle:

And while it’s probably uncommon for most people to think of fashion designers as CAD jockeys, as I learned not so long ago (reLink) the fashion industry is stepping up as well. This short clip showing some of what Optitex can do is pretty nice:

In each of the above examples the result is something physical, even if it’s just colored light on a screen.

In addition, the starting point in each case is a virtual model. But it doesn’t have to be. Instead of starting from scratch and building a virtual model, sometimes people make physical models and sample digital data from them.

More on that in the next entry.

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