Most documentation today is
in a 2-D format and in paper form, which might explain why I recently had so
much trouble following the assembly instructions for a cheap chest of drawers.
So it was no surprise to me
when Samir Hanna, VP of Digital Concept, Manufacturing Industry Group at
Autodesk, reported at a press conference yesterday at Autodesk University that 5 percent
of all product returns are due to lousy documentation as a lead-in to the
announcement of the new Autodesk Inventor Publisher technology.
According to Singh, the
software, which he says is compatible with multiple 3-D CAD packages, was
designed to allow users to easily create interactive, 3-D product documentation
in the form of exploded views or full-motion animations for assembly
instructions, repair and maintenance manuals and the like.
"You don't need to be an
expert in Inventor or even a CAD user," said Senior Product Manager Abhijit
Singh. Noting lots of people are intimidated by animation, he showed
how in just a few clicks he could create an exploded view and a full-motion
Singh likened it to using some
other common software tools for the office, though how easy some of those tools
actually are is debatable. One of the major benefits, he says, is the
documentation can be developed concurrently during the design process, avoiding
the "after-thought" mentality that often surrounds documentation.
Markups such as callouts and
labels can be added to the documentation, which can be published in a variety
of formats, including PDF, DWF, PPT, SWF, AVI and published to the web or electronically
delivered via email. To wit, Singh waved an iPhone around displaying a 3-D
image he had created just seconds before.
For engineers interested in
taking a test drive, Autodesk is now offering a free download of Inventor
Publisher Technology on Autodesk Labs.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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