We saw this article and think it is a good historical accounting of how 3D visualization has matured:
Lattice Technology Blog
The economic globalization and the cross-border trade of commodities and services have been going on for some considerable time. But it has become considerably more attractive in the last decade. The fast technological advances, along with a shift in the way protectionism is viewed, have played an important role in the process.
Trade restrictions or regulations with foreign nations not only protect business and workers, but they also limit competition and market share. Free trade generates growth opportunities that benefit the economy. Competition is good, it heats up the market, but competitive advantage is the main objective.
Unfortunately it is harder than it sounds but, at least, not as difficult as it used to be not that long ago, when video conferencing, Internet access, and other high tech gadgets were a privilege of the first world. Nowadays, third world countries have embraced high tech solutions as their ticket to a better economy. It is a high investment that pays off when it is done properly.
But, how about cultural differences, they can be a major barrier. How can you increase your manufacturing operations in a third world country, if you might end up paying more for the cheaper labor to keep your standards and quality commitment?
Continuing our discussion about the history of the XVL lightweight format, I would like to complement the previous entry with the white paper “XVL: A Compact and Qualified 3D Representation with Lattice Mesh and Surface for the Internet”. This report outlines XVL features that allow it to be used for 3D applications. This paper refers to an early version of XVL – we are now on version 10!
In 1984 Hiroshi Toriya, co-founder and CEO of Lattice Technology, Inc., was working at RICOH Software Research Center in Tokyo. He had already studied 3D technology when he met Dr. Chiyokura, co-founder of Lattice Technology, and together they developed a solid modeling system called DESIGNBASE. This system could handle a 3D telephone model in an expensive workstation with 2 Megabytes of memory!
Later on, DESIGNBASE was enhanced for the CAD/CAM industry, and data representation had become more precise, which required larger memory. At that point in time they had not yet considered the idea of utilizing it for lightweight 3D.
With the rise of the Internet, in the early 1990’s, all sorts of data - text, images & movies got shared online and handled by web browsers. It was just a matter of time for 3D to start traveling down that road.
In 1995 VRML - Virtual Reality Modeling Language was the standard file format for representing 3-dimensional (3D) interactive vector graphics, and it was especially designed with the World Wide Web in mind.
However, VRML was too heavy to handle 3D geometries, and only very simple 3D models could be tackled through narrow band net environment.
That is when they came up with the idea that surface representations like those from the original DESIGNBASE could be used in the 3D format. Technically, it was clear that the data size would need to become more than 10 times smaller than the original CAD model - Toriya estimated that it should be 100 times smaller.
The Need for Lightweight DataThe evolution of 3D design has brought the opportunity to expand its application to downstream processes. The 3D geometry along with other data including configuration, colors, annotations, dimensions, and animations can support production processes at the manufacturing floor.
Developed for the manufacturing industry, CAD software packages are able to render the 3D geometry of parts by using precise free-form surface representations. Industries such as aerospace and automotive demand the management of large varieties of parts - ranging from tens of thousands to several million, which are ordinarily used for designing and manufacturing. In response to this demand CAD manufactures complemented their software with product databases (PDM - Product Data Management), which is progressively turning into conventional business for many of them.
Once the products are being designed with CAD and data is being managed by PDM, a system to hold everything together, the whole product life-cycle, is fundamental. The PLM - Product Lifecycle Management system, developed by CAD vendors is an infrastructure tool for manufacturing.
Since it is essentially a design tool, 3D CAD cannot be quickly and easily handled. The 3D data needs to be manipulated on the shop floor, in order to be useful. The use of the 3D CAD in design has been an increasing trend for problems in the downstream processes.
The progress of digital data allowed 3D design to become more complex and, thus, the amount of required data has itself become massive. Entire assemblies have become huge files that require time and distinctive hardware to be manipulated.
Continuously improving 3D CAD is always catching up with the newest hardware technology, which doesn't necessarily happen to the low end computers that are used in downstream processes, thus resulting in files incompatibility.
Global manufacturing integration compromises the globalization of products. Today, after having been developed in one place, the products are manufactured around the world. These new circumstances require fast and precise information sharing and data transferring. Keeping in mind broadband is not a reality the world over, the transfer can take several hours; hence the file size is a major concern.
With the available variety of 3D CAD environments, all parts of the same product are not necessarily designed using the same application. Additionally, different plants might have different versions that could also not match with the ones used by third parties. When the data needs to be consolidated at the manufacturing stage, it is necessary a data management system in a single format.
As was mentioned at the beginning, the evolution of 3D design has brought new opportunities to the manufacturing floor. If the production staff can complement the 3D design data with the additional information necessary for manufacturing, it could increase quality and decrease time - higher profit.
The solution for all the above is a lightweight 3D data that accurately describes CAD, with capability to easily disclose production and manufacturing data.
In order to learn more about the evolution of manufacturing using 3D, please download the chapter "The Evolution of Manufacturing Using Digital Information Technology", an excerpt from the book "Improving Lean Manufacturing Through 3D Data" by Dr Hiroshi Toriya -- Lattice Technology, Inc. CEO.
That is all for now folks!
I am happy to announce our new Lattice Technology, Inc. blog
Hello and welcome to the Lattice Technology, Inc. blog. Here's where you'll find the latest & greatest news on everything about 3D digital manufacturing software and solutions: design review, 3D simulations, animations and inter-related BOMs and parts lists to create interactive 3D documents for process design, assembly instructions, 3D parts lists, technical illustrations and electronic training manuals. From market trends to product updates, tips & tricks to whitepapers, case studies and customers testimonials.
Tags: 3D Visualization & Sharing, Lightweight & Accurate 3D Format, 3D Assembly Validation & Simulation, Interactive Assembly Instructions, Bill of Materials, Technical Illustrations, Manuals - 2D & Interactive 3D, Lattice News