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STL for Revit

Published 13 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: prototype, design, autodesk, inventor, stl, revit

I found the recent addition to the Autodesk Labs web-site pretty interesting. There’s a new download for an STL exporter for Revit. According to the web-site you can “Create 3D Prints of your Revit 2009 models. As architects and engineers start their digital designs earlier and keep them digital for longer, they want a way to still physically interact with their designs. With the economical availability of 3D printers this has become possible.”

This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the Architectural world is going nuts-out-crazy for 3D printing and other rapid prototyping technology that designers and engineers have been using for decades (in some cases). Also, its interesting that this comes out for Revit, when the Inventor STL output tools are a little sketchy. It doesn’t allow you to export individual parts from an assembly (each has to be created separately), and it only supports the heavyweight ASCII version of STL, rather than the more compact binary version.

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Mike Hudspeth on ID for all

Published 13 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, industrial design, innovation, engineer

Desktop Engineering is a magazine I’ve written a lot for over the past few years and its odd that I never actually get to read the paper version. But anyway, I like Mike Hudspeth’s comment peice this month, on the relationship between Industrial Design and 3D design tools. Just because you have the tools, doesn’t mean you’re any good at it - something i couldn’t agree with more.

“First, and perhaps most important of the myths, is that anyone can do industrial design. After all, it’s just about styling, right? Wrong. Not everyone can design.”

“Industrial design is a whole lot more than meets the eye. It takes into account how things work and what the target audience needs — with an eye turned to their expectations. Customer psychology plays a huge part. Industrial design also has to do with responsibility — to one’s customers as well as to the environment. Safety issues are very important. And form doesn’t always follow function. Sometimes a product cries out for an artistic re-imagining to reinvigorate it and save it from sheer market boredom.”

Its not a case of trying to protect a career, or trying to protect a field of specialism, but one of training, of research, and shear bloody talent. Just because you have a set of paints, you’re not a good painter. And the same goes, just because you have a 3d design tool that includes surface modelling, G3 curvature continuity, does mean you’re an industrial designer.

Nice one Mike.

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Think3 are back - YAY!

Published 12 May 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: web, cad dealers

Its with no certain amount of shear, unadulterated joy that I can announce that think3 are back. For those that aren’t aware, think3 has been one of the most entertaining companies to watch in the CAD industry for years. They started out decades ago, as CAD Lab I seem to remember. Went through a rebranding excercise, ran a competition to find their new name (think3). Hired a big shot CEO (can’t remember.. Joe Costello) and started calling themselves an upstart MCAD company. That CEO caused a bit of stir because he ripped into the press for not covering his products and came unstuck. They also released training tools that used a video game to teach 3D modelling - The Monkey Wrench Conspiracy.

But the shame of it is that they had some interesting tools, some technology that was uniqe. Many vendors couldn’t touch their styling and surfacing tools, particularly the Global Shape Modelling (GSM) tools.

These were pretty unique back then - but if there ever was a story of a loss of potential, then this is it. Times have changed and with today’s technology, new players on the market, and the old guard doing innovative stuff, I wonder if this is a last gasp attempt - at what, I’m not too sure - acquisition?

I wonder if the users on the web-site are still using it - are the design teams at Alessi, Buel, all those others, still plugging away with ThinkDesign? Who knows.

The Press Release says: “Think3, the only supplier to offer technology solutions that combine product concept, development and design implementation environments, has launched new release of its CAD and PLM product lines ThinkDesign Suite and thinkPLM Suite 2008.1.”


Welcome Back.


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Future CAD: Download or Dealer?

Published 12 May 2008

Posted by Martyn Day

Article tagged with:

Many of the people in CAD dealerships have been selling CAD for many years. While Channel managers and sales folks at the CAD vendors come and go with the seasons, these dealership principles are the main industry constant. The sales of whatever CAD system they have affiliated themselves with puts bread on their tables and hopefully pays their mortgages. These people are business folks that have to take a long hard look at how they can grow their businesses with the least risk and in a controlled, sustainable way. This is typically at odds with the rate at which the CAD vendors want them to grow. Of course it is also possible to grow your CAD dealership through developing more added-value services, or selling additional products, perhaps in a different market segment - but then this does not favour the CAD vendor, as they want to sell more boxes of branded product.

So there is a lot of pressure on dealers at the moment to increase sales, hire more staff and be more aggressive about new-seat business. However, long-term, I see trouble on the horizon. The route to the customer will, in the next 2 or 3 years change, as the old Value Added Reseller (VAR) model will have to sit with Web-based delivery and the ability to order CAD products and services direct over the web. No vendor will talk at any length on how the existing channel and direct downloads will work, yet they are all developing web delivery businesses.

It all boils down to the value that the vendors see in having an experienced channel and the revenue they want to give to these dealers in an increasingly web-delivered world. Perhaps being a big dealer, with many expensive sales staff, will be a disadvantage in the future? Can the dealers trust the vendors to look after their interests?

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