Tanya Weaver joins X3DMedia and DEVELOP3D

Published 26 April 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, community, x3dmedia, develop3d news, tanya weaver, content

X3DMedia is delighted to announce a key new member of its editorial team. Joining the team behind DEVELOP3D and AEC magazines is Tanya Weaver, former editor of New Design, one of europe’s leading product design publications. This formalizes a relationship between the company and Weaver that’s been a key factor in the success of DEVELOP3D in the two years since it’s launch. Weaver joins the key editorial team in the role of Special Projects Editor alongside the existing team.

Since we founded X3DMedia, we’ve firmly believed that content is absolutely fundamental to building a community around what we’re doing.  From day one, Tanya has been working with us under the assumed name of Frances Corbett,” commented Al Dean, Co Founder and Editor in Chief of DEVELOP3D.

He continues “Her user stories from inside some of the leading lights of product development including Lego, Nokia, Electrolux to name but a few have become the cornerstone to what we do. Bringing Tanya on board allows that relationship to continue and for it to expand, giving the company greater bandwidth and a wider spread of editorial specialism and expertise.”

Over the past two years I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the cover stories for Develop3D and I am looking forward to being able to provide that magazine, as well as the other publications that X3DMEDIA produce, with more content and features bringing with me the knowledge I have gained working as an editor in the product and industrial design field,” said Weaver on her first day.

She continues, “I have always admired what the X3D Media have achieved in just two years, not only have they published a range of highly successful printed publications but they have also realized that the world of publishing is changing and its not just about printed paper anymore. They have developed websites for the magazines that are constantly updated and community focused, downloadable pdf versions of the magazines, iPhone and iPad apps and updates via twitter. It’s exciting to join a publishing company that is at the forefront of new media and I am looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into my new role.”

I had a quick chat with Tanya today as she headed into our new London offices to ask a few questions:

Al: How did you become a writer that specialises in design and product development?

Tanya: I fell into it really. I graduated with an English degree in 2000 from a university in South Africa and having traveled for a year I decided to stay in the UK and look for a job. I always knew that I wanted to write for a living and having sent my CV to loads of publishers in Birmingham, where I was living at the time, I eventually got a junior role at the publishers of Engineering magazine. At the time I didn’t realize that they also published a magazine called newdesign, which specializes in product and industrial design. I started off writing the news pages and small features and then gradually climbed up the company ladder to the position of editor about 5 years later. It has been a real learning curve writing about design and development with no previous background in it but at the same time it has also been extremely interesting to discover the processes and tools designers use in order to get a product to market. I thoroughly enjoy visiting and talking to designers about how they create the products that we use in our everyday lives.


Al: What are your plans for the coming year?

Tanya: I am looking forward to using the experiences and knowledge I have gained working as an editor in the product and industrial design field and applying that to my new role at X3DMEDIA. As well as continuing to write product development stories for Develop3D I would also like to gain experience and contribute to all the areas of new media that X3DMEDIA are involved in such as websites, apps and twitter. There is so much more to publishing than printed paper and I am looking forward to new challenges and getting my teeth stuck into my new role.


Al: What are the key trends you see in design in the coming year or two?

Tanya: I still think that sustainability/green/eco-design is a huge issue. Manufacturers and designers are under a great deal of pressure to provide increasingly ‘green’ savvy consumers with sustainable products. We are so much more aware of our carbon footprint and how we live our lives and what we consume affects the planet. In such a competitive industry, brands that are seen as being ‘green’ will gain loyalty from customers. So, designers and manufacturers have to constantly be aware of the materials, processes and packaging they use. For instance, just think back to 10 years ago where the notion of having electric cars driving around the city streets was just a fantasy but now many automotive companies are realizing that going green is the only way forward, as both customers and government are demanding it, and many are investing in building cars that are electric or are more environmentally sound.


Al: Who’s design work do you admire the most? Who’s doing or done the most interesting things.

Tanya: I really admire the work of Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer who was head of design at Braun from the early 1950s to 1995. Having been to a recent exhibition of his work at London’s Design Museum you can really see how the products he designed decades ago were so forward thinking. In fact, if you had to have some of his products such as a toaster, kettle, shaver or radio in your house today, they wouldn’t look out of place. They are examples of what good design is and I think that all designers should take a read of Rams’ ‘Ten Principles of Good Design’.
I also really like the work of Yves Behar, a Swiss industrial designer living in New York who founded the design consultancy fuseproject in 1999. I met him a few years back and was struck by how he just oozes enthusiasm and passion for what he does. He can turn his hand to so many different projects and clients. For instance, NYC Condom dispenser to, a ‘clever little shoebox’ for PUMA, an automatic vacuum cleaner, to getting involved in an initiative called ‘One Laptop Per Child’. His sketch book must be rammed!

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New HP Designjet 3D printing solution takes RP mainstream

Published 19 April 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: rapid prototyping, hp

3D printing is about to go mainstream as Hewlett Packard released their first rapid prototyping machine for office use.

We’ve been expecting it for a while now, and as more and more attention is given to 3D printing in various media, it was only a matter of time before a giant company sat up and took notice.

The new HP Designjet 3D and it’s colour varient, the Designjet Colour 3D will start from just under €13,000 for the single coloured ABS printer. Although what you first notice is that the printer looks very familiar…

The HP printer is essentially a Stratasys Uprint, a printer we loved for it’s small, simple nature and tough models.

HP have got into bed with Stratasys, signing a deal back in January to develop their line of 3D printers, with the result being a machine ‘built to HP-spec’ (ie. gone is the cheerful colour frontages), but with very little difference.

It’s bad news were you fancying a Uprint for your office; the deal with the giant firm means that Stratasys are no longer allowed to sell their models in the UK or any other country where HP is launching the Designjet 3D, despite it costing nearly €1,000 more.

HP were happy to reveal that they are also developing a full range of 3D printers with Stratysys, leaving the possibility that the RP firm will either be completely engulfed by HP sometime in the future, or resort to making it’s money from stepping back and producing the machines and supplying the lucrative ABS plastic.

HP have found a less messy method, no dust clouds or intensive cleaning needed, plus it’s a relatively small and quiet machine. Marketing it as something that every office could use (much like it’s other 2D printers) it even comes with its own ‘Removal System’, or a mini dishwasher to wash away the build-support material for an eye-watering €5,000.

With HP rapid prototyping now has a big brand name to bring more attention to it, and a huge reseller base to get it out there, but will this be tempting you into buying one?

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AMD ATI FirePro V8800 sets SolidWorks 2010 on fire

Published 08 April 2010

Posted by Greg Corke

Article tagged with: solidworks, amd, graphics, ati firepro

For the last 24 hours I’ve been sat in a dark room playing with AMD’s brand new professional graphics card, the ATI FirePro V8800. Oh what an exciting life I lead!

The fact is it’s an exceptional 3D card and one that literally ripped through our SolidWorks 2010 graphics benchmark – making incredibly light work of manipulating our RealView model. It’s also got some interesting new technology called Eyefinity that supports multiple monitors and if, like me, you’re frustrated by ALT/TABBING your way through apps, could certainly do wonders for your productivity.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to test this feature out but hope to soon – contrary to popular belief we don’t have dozens of spare monitors lying around the DEVELOP3D office.

Over the next few months AMD is set to introduce other FirePro cards based on the same core technology and we’ll test these out as soon as we can get our hands on them. In addition, if the rumours are correct, some new Quadro FX cards from Nvidia are also due out soon, so we’ll hopefully add these into the mix for some sort of graphics card showdown.

If your workstation currently clunks away when rotating 3D models, and if you’ve got some spare cash, the next few months would be an excellent time to invest in some new 3D technology. And with the recent introduction of Intel’s new Xeon X5600 series six core processors, there’s a phenomenal amount of processing power to back it up if you can stretch to an all in one workstation.

For a full review of the ATI FirePro V8800, click here.

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iPad internals: A case in point of design-doing, not design-thinking

Published 07 April 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, apple, manufacturing, machining, ipad, innovation

This week is all about the iPad, Apple’s new device. I’ve only had a brief fiddle with one in the Apple Store here in Portland, where I’m visiting Autodesk to find out about the latest and greatest from Alias, Inventor, Moldflow and of course, have a look at SketchBook Pro, the company’s new offering for the iPad.

When Apple release a new product, there’s the usual complete and utter onslaught on coverage across the gamut of media - print, web, tv. The world, to be frank, goes ape-shit. When this company releases a new product, opinions are often formed long before the product ships and its often divisive. One of the more interesting things that happens is that an organisation called iFixit gets the hot product and strips it down to its component parts - something that is essential considering they make their cash from selling you components to fix these types of product. Being of a curious nature I took a look at the iPad stripdown - find it here - a fascinating look into the internals of a very neatly packaged product - the build quality is astounding, the display crystal clear and the interactivity is exceptional.

One thing leapt out at me when looking at the stage by stage breakdown was the aluminium rear cover. On the outside, it’s that classic Apple thing. Incredibly ‘simple’ looking forms that require a very high quality surface model to represent - and something I would imagine is fought over strongly during development to get it just right in terms of aesthetics as well as tactile response. But it wasn’t that which intrigued me. It was this shot of the inside:

Image courtesy of iFixit.com

The internals of the rear cover are machined from a single billet of aluminium. While I’d imagine huge care is taken to get the exterior just right, the internals are clearly machined in a very short space of time. You can see the z-levels of the tool-paths used to create the part and it looks like it’s machined with speed in mind.But then you also notice that the plastic components have been designed to interface with that form also - as you’ll see from the shot of the speaker assembly below:

Now that’s impressive. What they appear to have done is removed time from the machining process, by removing traditional fixtures for these types of components and offset that against a slightly more complex tool for the plastic components. When you’re shifting serious units, the slight increase in cost of more complex tooling for these types of components is going to pale into insignificance compared to the potential savings when machining major components from aluminium in a dramatically shorter amount of time, of removing the need for additional fasteners being replaced with adhesives and well matched component forms and of course, a reduction in assembly steps.

Many people talk about Apple in hallowed terms, as the pinnacle of design-thinking, of innovation - there’s a trillion books on the subject and a factor of 10 more online articles. But often they concentrate on the aesthetic form of the product; namely, the exterior and there does seem to be something of a backlash against such posturing. But when you see this type of attention to detail, I’m led to believe that the real innovation and clear thinking is often found on the inside - to me, that’s design-doing and getting a job done and reducing complexity - and with that, there’s an inherent beauty that 99% of customers will never see.

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Stephen Fry, Autodesk & SketchBook Pro for iPad

Published 01 April 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, apple, sketchbook pro, ipad, sketchbook mobile, drawing stuff

Here’s a fantastically convoluted turn of events. As many of you are aware, Apple is bringing its iPad to market this coming saturday. We even have our man, Martyn Day, camped outside the San Francisco Apple Store, clutching his pre-order invoice in his sweaty little palms as we speak (I think. He might be in the pub around the corner). The potential for the device is huge, it looks like a device that could change things and its been a constant source of discussion in meetings with vendors since it’s public launch a few months ago. All this is known.

Just a moment ago, a british industrial design on twitter, Nick Harvey, retweeted a post by none other than Stephen Fry - yes, THAT Stephen Fry. This showed a screenshot of what looks to be the splash screen for an iPad variant of SketchBook Pro - quite a turn of events.

Autodesk of course, have been doing the iPhone thing like rockstars with SketchBook Mobile for some time and have shifted serious units - over a million. If you want the numbers as of November last year, that breaks down to 141,000 paid for licenses and over 900,000 downloads of the free version. Assuming that Apple take their usual 30-40% cut, that’s some serious change from a $1.99 app.

Here’s another post from Mr Fry, showing the loadscreen. With an apparent SketchBook Pro icon.

So, SketchBook Pro for iPad, looks like a perfectly timed release. Will it bring all of the things that SketchBook Mobile is missing (such as guides for lines and ellipses), will the idea of having a larger scle multi-senstive device for sketching, be as truly rocking as it seems, will I also now have to try and justify an iPad to my business partners along with a PogoStick purchase - I do hope so.

But if this is true, it does raise one question that I’m sure some readers might be confused by and most probably ridicule in the comments - but my sometimes slightly wonky moral compass requires me to ask this very simple question:

The screenshot shows a woman’s face, in heavy makeup, pouting at the viewer, as the splash screen? Really? It’s 2010. Not 1975. I figured we’d grown out of that sort of cheap marketing gimmick. Surely there are better images that could have been used - look at the SketchBook Mobile gallery on Flickr - its full of wonderful images, wonderful art, surely something a little more appropriate could have been found?

I’m super excited about finding out whether this app exists and having a play with it once I get out to Portland, but honestly, the above bothers me enough to ask the question and to ask the question of Autodesk. We’ll see what happens. When we first covered SketchBook Mobile, I quoted Spinal Tap with the line “Fuck the Napkin”. What I didn’t think was that I could do the same again, but it does lend me to do just that.

“Sexist. Not sexy.”

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