Thursday, 1 July 2010

What next in 3D CAD? - Ideas for Next Generation Technology

It has been over two decades since a new technology emerged in 3D CAD Design. Parametric representation and B-Rep modelling created a tectonic shift in the CAD industry spawning several codes with the latest generation exploiting the Windows architecture for ease-of-use and reach.

While history based representation has provided innumerable benefits, history free editing, a mere corollary, has been confined to limited areas of geometric manipulations in comparison to creat-modify-update-release nature of drawings for manufacture, that the industry requires.

Common challenges still remain in 3D CAD technology that needs to be addressed. Some of them include:
  • Handling of large data sets
  • Faster regeneration time during edit and update processes
  • Quicker and easier ways of generating/ modifying 2D Drawings
  • Intuitive approach to design using constraint-free environment
  • Operating System Independent environment
  • Freedom to collaborate without data translation
While the debate on choice of parametric vis-a-vis history free approach would continue, a wishlist of user-specific requirements could include the following:
  1. 2D framework that enables 3D data manipulation without losing sight of the 2D drawing - be it part or assembly (because at the end of the day the user requires a 2D Drawing anyway - am I asking for a roll back ? No !)
  2. Hybrid approach with both History-free and History-based environment wherein the user has the choice to decide on the approach in the middle of a design process - going back and forth
  3. Transparent inter-operability - absoluted no barriers !
  4. Ability to handle Large data sets in fractions of time taken currently
  5. Surface or Solid - User does not care or should not be troubled to fix 'closure volume' errors
  6. If one can view HTML pages on any web browser, why not 3D CAD and associated 2D CAD data? e-Drawings has helped - but still more needs to be done here.
  7. Web standards have evolved - why not leverage on this for 3D CAD environment and framework? (a.k.a Google Sketchup with an advanced framework)
  8. OS Free, platform independent approach with distributed cloud computing (this is emerging as a serious alternative with much spoken and written about it)
  9. If Torrents can used a distributed collaborative framework, why not leverage on this for 3D CAD data sets?

Time to re-look at Gregory Patch?

Gregory patch (remember Designbase from Ricoh?) has numerous intrinsic advantages over NURBS in terms of handling large data sets, concise representation and computationally less intensive architecture. Combined with cloud computing, history/history-free hybrid approach, simplified language (CTML - CAD Text Mark Up language?), ability to manipulate 3D data in 2D (yes - I mean this seriously) and 'Torrent'ial collaborative engineering - we will have a deadly cocktail of capabilities that I am sure the users would enjoy and celebrate !

Let us free our minds of constraints and break conventions, now that technology empowers such initiatives. Are we ready for this?