Not Your Father’s Drafting Table

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WARNING: Old-School Alert! This article will be talking about old-school design work… yes, designing before the use of 3D software…when we drew on paper, and created prototypes by hand.

Long before 3D Printing…before I was in the 3D software industry, and even before I used 3D software on a regular basis, we built prototypes by hand.  I can vividly remember one project, in my first job fresh out of college.  I was freelancing for a very small product design firm.  We were up against a deadline on a proposal for a potentially large project, working late nights on a scaled model, which would have taken us probably 2 days, or less, if we had a 3D Printer.  I remember finishing this fragile model the night before it had to be shipped across country.  The prototype sat in my back seat, cushioned with blankets, as I drove it to the airport to ship, because this was after delivery truck hours.

I’m sure plenty of old-school Product Designers out there remember these stresses, the smells of the model glue, and countless Xacto knife cuts on your fingers.

The Evolution of Prototyping…

Then along came 3D CAD, which made designing must faster, and being able to see products in 3D, on the screen.  Rendering these 3D models was usually an overnight computing process, but it was better than markers and pens (and more headaches).  The next step in visualizing 3D models, was 3D Printing.  Seeing a live model in your hand was a huge advantage to a rendering, however, 3D Printing often requires Xacto blades and painting.

Today, I rarely use an Xacto knife, and have many less headaches from the model glue, and NEVER have to run to the FedEx for overnight prototype shipping.

In 2011, almost every designer uses a computer. Shipping a prototype across country, or the world, can be replaced with placing a 3D design on the web, and sharing a link.  The ability to share data instantaneously is a huge advantage for business.  However, for Product Designers, seeing a model on the web is still not as pragmatic as seeing a design in person.  Being able to walk around a new product and seeing it from every angle requires a physical prototype.

This was the reason 3DVIA created Post3D.  It is the first product which allows Product Designers, and Consumer Product companies to see a product in-context, in a real setting, before any physical prototypes have been built.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Post3D yourself, I encourage you to go for it!

And if you have, what did you think? Does it match our old glue smell memories?