Autodesk products for industrial design

Just got back from a couple days at Autodesk University. I was out there mainly to check out their latest software for industrial design, and evaluate what additional tools we could use at our company (or for personal design projects). Right now everyone here uses SolidWorks, both engineers and designers. Its no secret that surfacing with SolidWorks is a pain - I’d consider myself pretty good at it, but I don’t enjoy the process.

I attended a demo for a new sub-D and T-splines based product, intended to be at the very front end of 3D exploration. During the demo this slide was presented:

What the slide implies is that even surfacing packages like Alias or Rhino are unnecessarily difficult for designers to employ in the early stages of concept generation, and the parametric solid modeling products are best used at the end of the concept phase and into development and manufacturing. Class-A surfaces used by the automotive industry are great, but sometimes not necessary for ‘regular’ product design. The newer polygon modeling products, with curvature continuity inherent in all the shapes you build, are more useful for the ideation phases, and are becoming robust enough to progress further into the development process. The presented also mentioned that European car studios were ‘ahead’ of the U.S. (he was closely affiliated with Ford) in using polygon modeling, and that the designers could use it themselves rather than back-seat-driving an Alias expert.

(looking around the room, there seemed to be very few actual designers - most of the attendees were full-time Alias guys.)

Has anyone used polygon modeling or T-splines for early stage form exploration? Any experiences with Fusion360 from Autodesk, which has it built-in? Any break-down in translation from the early concept phase to engineering hand-off?

Timely post, I’m actually taking a T-splines break to hit up the boards! :laughing:

I’ve been using T-splines for the last 2 years, mainly for personal projects and freelance. I beta tested Fusion360, seems like it’s matured quite a bit since I saw it.

The biggest thing that’s hurting this category of modeling tools, imo, is that 99% of the demos are creating hideous, doughy looking remote controllers and hair dryers, but you can create some exciting surfacing with sub-d really quickly and intuitively.

I usually use the raw sub-b surfaces for rendering or 3D printing for first review then rebuild the final surfacing, or pass off to someone else to rebuild before sending downstream.

I think it heavily depends on what you are designing, what the design intent is, and your skill level with NURBS.

At a fundamental sculpting level, Sub-D modelling is very fluid and easy to explore form with. The issue you will hit is you then end up at a stage where you need to completely rebuild your model from scratch (there may be a few rare case where you can export the T-splines model to a NURBS solid and have it work, but I have yet to see someone show a compelling case study in taking Sub-D geometry to production).

That rebuilding in my mind ultimately may add more time to the process than building the original concepts in NURBS and refining them may have taken.

I do agree that building surfaces in parametric packages is a pain - and while it will help speed things on the back end, it does make the front end exploration very limiting and difficult.

It all depends on what you build at the end of the day. A guy doing Coffee machines may be completely fine with doing all his CAD in SW or Creo vs the guy designing cars.

I suppose this isn’t really a secret so I should share a little more about the demo I was in.

We were demo’ing the alpha-11 release of Alias SpeedForm, earlier known as ‘Project Earl’. I believe the benefit of this product to car designers was an easy translation to NURBS - as cyberdemon suggests, having a T-splines model export to NURBS.

I’ll be guinea-pigging Fusion360 for the next month, trying to design a handle part that has bedeviled me in SolidWorks. I work in a office full of SolidWorks seats so this might be an illustrative example - or simply suicidal.

choto - what are you using for the first surface rebuild, Rhino, Alias, something else?

This is definitely a risk. Like everything there’s trade-offs and you have to be clear about what tools are right for what stage of the process.

For example in a day I might be able to generate 20 models for print or render evaluation with Sub-D and in the same time might only be able to generate 5 in NURBS only.

So you might save time on the front end and cast a wider net, but have to take some extra on the back end if you’re responsible for rebuilding.

If I rebuild it’s usually in Rhino.

If they can marry up the core functionality of what makes Alias great with the Sub D stuff it could be a sweet product. Wonder when they’re going to ship that.

There were all kinds of bugs - functions where it was intended to work like Alias but didn’t - I’d estimate its at least a year out.

Wondering what gives them away… pocket full of pens? White socks? :slight_smile:

G2 continuous shirts. Us Alias guys will spend all night with the hotel iron to get things perfect. :wink:

You know like that shirt that the Rosetta spacecraft engineer dude wore for his big interview? That he later apologized for? Kind of like that. With white sneakers.

This is how I feel every time I get something imported into Pro E without a gap.

apparently speedform is available now

I’ve tried it and it crashes out if you use the sketching function. Pretty sure it needs a service pack before it’s fixed because I doubt it’s my PC.