Total 3D: Industrial Design Tools, CAD/PLM and Google O3D

I was reading Josh Mings early this week, “Usable 3D Geometry Please” and thought about many announcements that were made by Google last week. I think that there is an interesting combination of capabilities very compliant to Josh’s demands – which I’ll refer to as ‘total 3D’ for the purpose of this post. There are three application types that I see as being very separate – industrial design, 3D CAD Design including Product Lifecycle and consumer-oriented visualization.

Industrial design software, in most of the cases today, is represented by separate packages. Autodesk, one of the market leaders with their Alias Studio, runs it as separate package. This package is targeted to an audience that is completely oriented towards free-hand graphics. In most of cases, they never transformed to real 3D models.  

Most of CAD/PLM tools are very 3D-model oriented and based on usage of parametric solid models. This is the place where most of the designers start. However, today’s trend shows the need for integrated capabilities with industrial design, and this came out of Josh’s post too.

Last, but not least – Google O3D. For the moment, Google O3D is the API framework for 3D Apps in a Browser. Flexible and open, it provides the option for developing 3D applications in a Browser. It will be fully integrated with the new Google browser, Chrome, later this year. Today O3D is able to convert SketchUp, Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya as well as COLADA format. I’d expect more 3D converters in the future.

So far, I am looking for combination of tools that can be helpful for people interested in total 3D development – starting from initial design graphics and involving consumers in conversations based on real CAD models. The following video show some possible options of using CATIA Imagine and Shape and other CATIA tools for similar context.

This combination of tools is not unique. Neither are the alternative tools. I’d be interested to hear your opinion on this.


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