What do you get when you cross the avatar experience of the Second Life online virtual world with the collaboration and information-sharing capabilities of WedEx? According to officials at 3DVIA, a Dassault Systemes brand focused on providing 3-D tools, content and communities, you get Post3D, a new forum aimed at helping designers and engineers collaborate and bring designs to life.
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The product, now a technical preview and introduced at this week's SolidWorks World 2011, is an online, interactive 3-D environment where users can post designs and invite colleagues in to preview and discuss work in real-time from a browser. Unlike other emerging online 3-D collaboration tools, which emphasize real-time design reviews and the sharing of CAD models, Post3D is more about the virtual room, which allows engineers and product designers to showcase their works-in-progress in context, according to David Laubner, vice president of online product marketing for 3DVIA.
"The idea is really about getting people of all disciplines and even consumers all around a design in context, within a realistic environment," Laubner explains. The context, according to Laubner, means users can show off and discuss product designs not within a white background common to other online collaboration platforms, but rather in a real-life context, displayed on a retail shelf, for example, or in someone's house. 3DVIA is able to accomplish that real-life, interactive setting by leveraging its gaming technology, which lies at the heart of many of its 3-D content creation and sharing tools, Laubner says.
Used as part of the design process, 3DVIA envisions a couple of roles for Post3D. Contract design shops could use the online forum to showcase past projects as part of a bid for design contract or internal designers could show off their evolving ideas to peers within a company, Laubner explains. In a collaboration role, Post3D could be used to present design changes and solicit feedback, to provide context in terms of size and scale or to illustrate changes to geometry.
The product supports a multitude of 3-D file formats so users can directly publish designs from SolidWorks or upload over 30 file formats, including IGES and STEP. Laubner says the technical preview is available now and users can start uploading designs and create customized URLs during this free trial period. There will be an open beta program later this year.