Finding 3D parts is a sweet spot for search, machine learning and analysis

Finding 3D parts is a sweet spot for search, machine learning and analysis


The amount of data around us is growing and we are facing significant problems to find stuff on the web and in the real life. The adoption of search technologies has grown for the last decade. Google made it very easy for many people to think about search and use about any problem as a “search problem”.

At the same time, search in the enterprise and manufacturing companies is a different problem. In many use cases, web search requires to bring top results. In the enterprise, the diversity of data is higher and the relevance criteria is different – what is the right result for you is different for somebody else.

Business model for enterprise search is also different. While web search is relying heavily on advertising, I haven’t seen enterprise search doing similar things. While CAD and PLM vendors can see a demand for reliable search features, overall solution for a company might require lots of specific data source integration, tuning and running cost.

I’ve been following search technology and implementation trends for the last decade in the enterprise domain and, specifically, engineering and manufacturing. What is a most painful problem CAD companies are trying to solve using various search technologies? It seems to me search for Parts is a type of solution that vendors consider as a priority to solve.

Solidsmack article Autodesk announces design graph punches shape search solar plexus speaks about evolution of search related development made by Autodesk for the last four years.

How do they find my 3D data? Simply put, you enter a search term and filter the results down from there. Design Graph searches primarily by shape and allows you whittle results down by category. It will search through all of the 3D data you have… as long as it resides on the A360 cloud-based design/collaboration platform. But here’s the difference. The technology is driven by shape search, but is not the sole criteria. After the shape is captured – the features are captured. After the features are captured – the morphology is captured. After the morphology is captured – the patterns of all the bits are deconstructed. And it’s doing this for all the data, in every account on A360, learning from it and applying it to the whole.

The following video can give you an idea of how it works.

Another solution – OnePart from Dassault Systemes is a result of morphing search technology developed by Exalead together with 3DEXPERIENCE. It allows to reduce amount of time needed to search for part. It prevents engineers from creating duplicated parts. Navigate to OnePart website here.

The EXALEAD OnePart integrated search experience is uniquely capable of adding similarity, metadata, and semantic-linked documents and related information to shape search capabilities. Engineers, managers, technicians, and procurement specialists can quickly and easily find and reuse existing 2D/3D files of parts, product designs and other related information located anywhere inside the organization, even beyond obvious PDM and PLM repositories. The result: optimized reuse of parts, designs and related documentation, thus accelerating product development and delivery and decreasing design, material, manufacturing, and storage costs.

I found the following video presenting OnePart inside of 3DExperience.

What is my conclusion? While the amount of information is growing, you still need a very specific use case and value proposition to sell search technology to manufacturing companies. CAD vendors are demonstrating Part search use case as one of the promising directions in selling search, intelligence and machine learning. While searching inside A360 and 3DEXPERIENCE is a challenging task, both solutions are not making very clear how this technology is capable to search and acquire information outside of these products boundaries. Real data is messy and spread across multiple places, data storages and on the web. Just my thought…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion about BOM can be unintentionally biased.


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