Most product design engineers and manufacturers have been given the badge of bots since their jobs are just to generate geometrically symmetric CAD models and interpreting fabrication drawings to ensure the quality of the product. They need to blindly follow standards for their products’ aligned industry be it ASME, TEMA, ANSI etc.
However, these deductions emerge from someone who has a little knowledge of the industry trends and are often misled by the legacy. The current face of product design has taken a 180° turn towards creating more appealing models that touch every possible buyer is also easy to manufacture.
From wooden furniture products to architectural ornamental properties and from personal utilities like watches to decorative, product designs have evolved big time. 3D CAD modeling, generative designing, parametric modeling, detailed 2D fabrication drawings, custom product designing and numerous other attributes of CAD systems have created a more genuine design experience for product design engineers.
So, here in this article, I have listed five trends in CAD modeling and rendering that are ruling the product design segment.
1. Embracing the archaic designs
These pots designs reflect a symbolism of antiquity and richness. Bottom line – such trends are never running out of time; they remain the timeless beauty as far as customers are concerned. But if you take a closer look, these aren’t actually old pots, just designs made with dents and a masterpiece outcome of excellent rendering skills.
While one may argue that a simple ‘revolve’ or ‘mirror’ function in Creo or SolidWorks can generate these symmetric shapes. Initial shapes can be sketched with the help of polylines drawn by connecting critical control points on the front plane, there is much more than what meets the eye. Dents, shadows, surface finish, and other physical properties such as marks and material finish are some of the attributes given to simple 3D CAD models.
These vintage designs are just the classic illusion of the 80s or 90s generated with modern CAD tools of the 21st century.
2. Automate – Read the word thrice
Designing is a ‘digital’ word, then what are furniture manufacturers and design engineers doing with creating the same model over and over. Also, giving your customer a catalog and asking them to select one is like asking them to compromise on their bespoke requirements – not a very good practice in the long run.
Like the sub-head (Read automate thrice, I don’t need to write it three times, but you did read it three times), if you can automate the designs why recreate the models all over again. In the image of cabinets above both of them are same as far as dimensioning and geometry are concerned. What varies is the layout of shelves and partition.
Such custom-made furniture products are very popular for attracting customers. However, if practiced without design automation, such products prove to be very costly since the time lag between production order and delivery date is very short. Generating customized fabrication drawings in this short time span is just next to impossible.
Embedding design automation for ETO and mass customization will not only rule out the possibility of meeting timelines but also increase in sales because of the enhanced experience for buyers. With the possibility of same-day engineering, even the customers feel important with product configurator which in turn results in higher sales.
3. Don’t cut the wood
Wood has always been an integral part of the furniture and product designs. Wood makes classics look cool. Today, even specialized woodworking CAD platforms and add-ons with specialized sketching tools are available for wood. But the detailed carving and wood finished rendering for manufacturers and furniture retailers are the need of the hour. As shown below, a cabinet for custom beverages depicts the design intent and surface finish with a look and feel of wood with rendering.
In fact, today, just a 3D CAD model without the touch of physical properties and appropriate ambiance doesn’t appeal the customers to buy it. From a small toy truck to residential furniture, hospitality needs to office furniture, models are simply not good without rendering. Carving and texturing are the two most commonly used attributes for wood models as shown in the image of the cabinet.
In the above picture of a toy truck, the grains on tree bark and shading of grain lines on the truck body is what makes it stand apart from any other modeled toy. 3ds Max and Photoshop are some of the most popular software that these design engineers leverage to prepare the sales catalog and marketing brochures.
4. Making the most of polylines
Traditionally, we have always perceived stools as an object with four legs and a flat top base with fancy upholstery (at times) for seating. At the most, the height and dimensions vary according to its intended application. But the picture cited above is an exclusive example of how diversified designs can be generated with CAD just by exploring our stool design ideates.
The ‘trend’ isn’t exactly what we call ‘new’; it, in fact, is a result of just exploring and using polylines and curved lines more than their conventional application of generating polygons. We, product design engineers are instead creating non-conventional shapes with curved lines here (see the legs of stool).
The popularity of such unconventionally curved shapes has now gained momentum partly because of the evolution in manufacturing methods. Earlier, with limited machinery, tooling, and jigs and fixturing system, it was difficult to have a grip and cut or bend the job, but now this has become much more sophisticated with NC programs generated directly from 3D CAD models.
5. Giving your customer the feel of the product
It is not very long that a fact about customer’s behavior has come to light. It states that the products that appeal the customers to have a feel of how will it perform are more likely to be bought. Since the customer can perceive how the product will fit in their place of utility, decisions become more accurate. As a result sales figures will increase dramatically and bring a win-win situation for product retailer and customer, both.
For three images of the lamp above, all of them have a different color of illumination and along with that the ambiance light also changes. Instead of such a model, if only the lamp lights were changed and ambiance was left the way it was, it would have been a bit unavailing for the customer.
Also taking photographs of each real product to change the ambiance proves to be very costly calculating the costs of arranging the ambiance scene, manufacturing the product, printing the images and also hiring a professional photographer. On the other hand, the beautifully rendering software will bring out changing ambiance very efficiently very economically.
While product design industry is constantly evolving, there are some trends that never go out of style. If product design engineers, furniture manufactures, and 3D artists are keeping a track of these trends it is highly unlikely they get thrown out of the race of being the market leaders in their segment.