Downstream Applications for 3D Data 3d scanning

Downstream Applications for 3D Data

We’ve reached the fun part! What can you do with a 3D model? Practically anything!

In a world that is increasingly digital, most industries now utilize 3D files in some fashion. We’re seeing them show up in many different places lately.

At this point in the process, you have your 3D model from your scanned original part. It has been either digitally modelled into a polygon format or reverse-engineered into a CAD format, according to your needs. But, you can do so many things with your 3D data – things you might not have even thought of yet! Chapter Six covers the different downstream applications for the 3D data file.

Downstream applications generally fall into the followings categories:

  • Documentation/Archival
  • Re-Engineering/Design
  • Inspection/Analysis
  • Replication/Reproduction
  • Visualization/Animation
  • Various Industry-specific Applications


After your part or object has been laser scanned and modelled you now have a digital "backup" of the object. Scan data for archival purposes is useful for a number of industries: Aerospace/Defense, Consumer Products/Industrial Design, Architecture/Historic Preservation and Museum/Fine Art. At Australian Design and Drafting services, we’ve scanned many objects specifically for the purpose of creating a digital document.

This digital model will:

  • Protect you from accidental part loss, almost like an insurance policy
  • Provide you with a working "virtual" blueprint in order to rebuild, recreate, or remanufacture
  • Give you the ability to start from a base model and create something new without having to start from scratch


While Reverse Engineering as a process was covered in Chapter 4, it is also an application that is particularly useful in the Aerospace/Defense and Industrial Design industries. With a Reverse Engineered model you can make engineering and design changes of your part or object in a variety of ways or use it for specific types of analysis:

  • Add or subtract design features to the existing part or object
  • Use as a base model to design a new part or object
  • Use the model for FEA and similar analyses


Also covered as a type of process, inspections are a great use for 3D data particularly for any types of manufacturing. Using our advanced laser scanning and reverse engineering tools and processes, Direct Dimensions can inspect and analyze your part or object in a variety of ways:

  • Compare a scanned part/object to a "nominal" or intended design model
  • Compare a scanned part/object to 2D drawing dimensions
  • Compare a scanned part/object to another scanned part/object



While this will be covered in depth at a later time, Replication is one of the earliest and still most important uses for a 3D file. Using either 3D printing or milling processes, your digital file can be created as a physical part. After you have laser scanned or reverse engineered your part, there are virtually limitless options for replicating that object. Replication can be used for:

  • Scaling in either direction
  • Restoration
  • Manufacturing Prototypes
  • Making Products


This application definitely falls into the realm of advertising and entertainment but also museum presentations, legal cases, and even high-quality training simulations are also all great uses for 3D model visualizations and animations.

  • Direct 3Dview of your object – can be used to create an online 3D catalogue or proof of concept.
  • faces can – scanning a person for animations, avatars, mass personalization of consumer products, or even simulation programs.
  • Animation – recent scans of people, objects, and structures have been used to create commercials, films, music videos, and video games.
  • Rendering – high-quality 2D renderings using 3D models can be used for marketing purposes. Renderings of structures and viewpoints have also been used in legal cases to prove/disprove eyewitness accounts.

Industry-specific Applications

While many types of industries can utilize the previously listed applications, there are a few 3D model apps that are very specific, but we feel we should list:

    • Architecture/Construction: scanning facilities for BIM databases and creating traditional blueprint drawings


bim 3d scanning

    • Museum Research/Fine Art: investigative scanning for provenance and comparative research


3d scanning bim

  • Virtual 3D Worlds: 3D scanning facilities, objects, and people specifically for use in virtual worlds and social networks, such as Second Life

Same 3D Data, Many Different Uses: Repurpose!

Often, with just a little bit of extra work, you can create different, valuable deliverables with the same basic scan data or 3D model. Some examples are:

  • A consumer products company has an object scanned so that it can be prototyped. What they might not know is that with a little tweaking of the model they can also gather the measurements needed to create perfectly fitting packaging and also creating photorealistic models for subsequent advertising or a virtual catalogue.
  • An aerospace company has a cockpit scanned for human factors analysis. If enough data was initially collected, that same data could be used to help create training simulations.
  • A major museum has a sculpture in its collection that is rapidly deteriorating and they want to scan it for documentation. That data could be used to create high-quality mini replications to be sold in the gift shop or for research (possibly comparing it to similar castings by the same artist).

The Sky is the Limit!

The above examples are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to uses for 3D models. If you have a possible application that you think a 3D model would work for, you should just ask your 3D service provider if it can or has been done. If they are anything like us, they will either have already done it (or tried it) or be so intrigued by your application that they are willing to give it a shot! And if you can’t do it yet, check back often; new applications and methods are being invented every day.

The world of 3D imaging, modelling, and engineering continues to grow at such an incredible rate that older applications are always being improved upon and new ones are always being dreamed up.



Inspection/Analysis - Comparison to CAD

We are almost ready to move on to downstream applications for 3D models, but before we jump into that, we need to talk about one more application for scan data. Chapter Five will cover how this data can be utilized for quality inspection.

Important Terminology

CMM - Coordinate Measuring Machine, a mechanical device that obtains 3D coordinates by probing, may be either touch probe based or non-contact, portable or stationary, or motorized or manual.

Laser Tracker - sends a laser beam to locate a reflective target held against the object to be measured. The beam reflects back to the tracker and calculates the distance and angle of the location of the target. Laser trackers are a great option when you need extreme accuracy over larger measurement ranges.

Color Map - a graphical display for visualizing dimensional differences between the measured shape of an object and its nominal CAD model; deviations are mapped to a colour spectrum indicating location and magnitude. A reference key maps the deviations to values.

A History Lesson

While we think of the 3D scanning industry as something very new, the first 3D digitizers, Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs), were actually built in the 1960s and the entire purpose of this development was to perform dimensional inspections. Fifty years later, inspections are still one of the most common uses for 3D digitizing and scanning systems.

In the late 1980s engineers at the then-Martin, Marietta became aware of a company making articulating arms for medical measurements and they began working with the company (Faro Technologies) to develop a portable CMM for inspections in the aerospace industry. After the creation of the portable CMM, the options for 3D measurement and inspection exploded. Laser Scanners were added to the portable arms and then Laser Trackers were developed.

Twenty-five years later, portable scan arms are a common measurement solution in major manufacturing firms across the world and in industries ranging from aerospace to automotive and power generation to medical.

Types of Inspections

There are many different types of inspections that can be done utilizing 3D technologies:

  • One of the fastest and most informative types of inspections is the Dimensional Deviation, CAD to Part Inspection. A typical process for a Scan Arm, the scan data is compared to the original CAD model in a software package which will then show deviations by a colour map.
  • A variation of the Dimensional Deviation is the Virtual Assembly Analysis. By using reference points, such as interface datums, we have the capability to, in a virtual environment, simulate and identify how parts will fit together in their real-world assembly. We can do this by using assembly characteristics of the part (such as weld points, slots, and holes) to apply the mating constraints during assembly. This is also known as a “reference point fit” which can discreetly control part movement in any axis of each control point. The analysis can show part collision or spacing in a real-world scenario done virtually.
  • Parts can also be measured while they are in the process of being machined, an On-Machine Inspection allows for important characteristics to be measured and changes to be made while the piece or tool is still being created. These are typically done with either a Portable CMM with probe and scanner or a laser tracker depending on the size of the object being machined.
  • Similar to on-machine inspections are real-time inspections for Installation Alignment. This is helpful for installations of major equipment and is typically done with a laser tracker, PCMM, or similar.
  • Perhaps the most comprehensive of the inspections is the First Article Inspection (FAI) which involves a thorough point to point inspection of a physical part against the production drawing dimensions. This is a very typical process for a portable CMM.

Getting Started

Below are the products that take the 3D measured data from the portable arms and scanners and perform the inspection analysis processes.

Each of them has some capabilities to perform the two main types of inspection – discreet point dimensional inspection and dense point cloud comparison analysis. Some have more comprehensive capabilities that include GD&T or special case analyses, and some specialize in certain areas such as ease of use or multi-scanner integration more than others.

We use all of these regularly and help our customer understand the strengths of each package relative to their specific application and company needs. If we are performing the project for someone as a service, they get the satisfaction of knowing we will use the best software for their inspection. Feel free to call us directly for more specifics on how these packages compare for your needs.

  • CAM 2 Measure X (by Faro)
  • Geomagic Qualify
  • InnovMetric PolyWorks Inspector
  • Rapidform XOV
  • Verisurf

Now, what can I do with my model?

Having learned what you can do with your data: inspect, reverse engineer or digitally model, we are now ready for the fun part! Chapter 6 will be an overview of the downstream applications for 3D models. The possibilities are numerous and we and our customers are thinking of new ideas every day.

Contact Australian Design & Drafting Services for more information..



Reverse Engineering

Converting Raw Point Clouds into CAD Formats:

Step 2 – Files that can be brought into Parametric Modelers

You’ve read our overviews, figured out how to collect data, and now that you have this data, what do you do with it? Chapters Three through Five will cover how this data can be processed into more useable digital forms.

In Chapter 3 we discussed processing 3D data into polygonal models and dumb solids, but what happens when you need more than a simple mesh file or you must have geometry features to enable your redesign process? As previously discussed, we categorize the processing of the collected data into two main categories: Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering. In Chapter 3 we discussed Digital Modeling (polygonal or rapid NURBS dumb solids), but when you need to go beyond these simpler model formats, we call that Reverse Engineering with “design intent.”

Reverse Engineering - the process of measuring and then creating a CAD model of an object that reflects how the object was originally designed (with its design intent).

Design Intent - the intended design of an as-built physical object. Every manufactured part or object varies from its original intended design by some factor. These imperfections can be identified, analyzed, and corrected during the reverse engineering process.

As-built - modelling which captures the exact physical shape of an object as it actually is, with its imperfections (as opposed to its design intent).

When should I request a Parametric Model vs. the simpler Rapid NURBS or Polygonal Mesh Model?

So when does a project fall into the category of Reverse Engineering as opposed to Digital Modeling? Why should I opt for Reverse Engineering when it sounds more time consuming and requires additional processing, and therefore is probably more expensive?

At Direct Dimensions, our recommendation generally depends on several factors including shape (organic vs. geometric) and desired file output. If you want to make a Rapid Prototype of a hand-carved chair seat then going the digital modelling route is probably a fine option for you. If you want to scan an aeroplane to create an accurate model for CFD analysis, need a model of an impeller for flow analysis, or require a model of an engine casing for a redesign then you’ll probably want to spend the time and effort required creating a fully reversed engineered model.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering is the desired file output. People that choose Digital Modeling generally will use the file for Rapid Prototyping or visualization purposes. When you need more than that, either for redesign purposes or for importing models into analysis programs, you generally choose to Reverse Engineer, which means bringing your files into parametric modelling software. There are essentially four types of models that work for this (two of them we discussed in the previous chapter):

  • A Rapid NURBS ‘dumb solid’ (previously discussed in Chapter 3) starts with the polygonal model. NURBS surfaces are wrapped over the polygonal mesh. This wrapped surface model is smoother than a polygonal model and generally contains no regular geometric features. This type of NURBS model can be brought into parametric modellers such as SolidWorks (albeit with no parametric history – which is why we call it dumb).
  • The bridge between Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering is the Hybrid Model (previously discussed in Chapter 3). A hybrid model is a polygonal model that has been converted in a rapid NURBS surface model and then also uses some traditional solid modelling techniques. It is commonly used when basic geometric features, such as holes & edges, blend with complex organic contours, such as a machined casting.
  • The Hybrid ‘dumb solid’ model is considered a step up from the fully Rapid NURBS, in both time and effort, but certainly not as time-consuming as a fully reverse engineered parametric model. Unlike the Rapid NURBS, which is essentially a wrap-around a polygonal frame, the hybrid dumb solid contains some geometric features such as holes, planes, and radii but these features still have no parametric history.
  • A fully reverse engineered Parametric Model will have a fully functioning feature tree, allowing for complete redesign if necessary. These models are built as if they were engineered from scratch, making them perfect for the reverse engineering of legacy parts and redesigns.

Design Intent or As-Built?

When choosing to reverse engineer part, it is important to decide if the part should be reverse engineered as-built (or as-scanned, in its current state) or engineered with its design intent. Often the actual physical production parts are off just fractions of millimetres or sometimes the parts have worn down a bit from the original fabrication. It is important to clarify the end use of the data when discussing your project with a reverse engineering firm so they know whether you need design intent or as-built models.

The Reverse Engineering Advantage

There can be a fine line between Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering and sometimes both methods can be a valid solution to 3D problems. Some advantages of Reverse Engineering are:

  • Can be brought into Parametric Modeling Packages (solid modelling CAD software)
  • Parametric Models will have a feature tree that is editable
  • Other than Rapid NURBS dumb solids, reverse engineered models contain geometric features such as planes and radii making the models a better fit for designing and measuring.
  • Reverse engineered models are great for analysis software such as for CFD and FEA.

Getting Started

In the previous chapters, to get you going, we discussed the software products that we use literally every day here at Direct Dimensions (shown in alphabetical order):

  • Geomagic
  • Imageware
  • Innovmetric PolyWorks
  • Rapidform

The CAD packages we use frequently include AutoCAD, CATIA, Siemens NX, ProEngineer, Rhino3D, and SolidWorks.

What else can I do with a model?

Now that you know a bit more about what we call Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering you may feel like you don’t need to know anything else about the uses and creation of 3D models. However, there is one more major use of 3D scanning that we want to talk about. The next chapter will discuss utilizing 3D Scanning for Inspection / Analysis.

Contact Australian Design & Drafting Services for more information..


Digital Modeling

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning – Digital Modeling

Converting Raw Point Clouds into CAD Formats

You’ve read your overview, figured out how to collect data, and now that you have this data, what do you do with it?

As you learned in Chapter Two, Direct Dimensions breaks data collection into two common methods: Laser Scanning and Digitizing. We also categorize the processing of the collected data into two main categories: Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering. In this chapter, we’ll tell you what you need to know about Digital Modeling.

Digital Modeling: the process of creating a computer model of an object that exactly replicates the form of the object. Laser scanners are used to capture the 3D data of the object, and this data is transferred to the computer where it is aligned, edited and finalized as a complete 3D model.

Polygonal Models and Dumb Solids

So, when does something fall into the category of Digital Modeling as opposed to Reverse Engineering? At DDI it generally depends on a couple of factors: shape (organic vs. geometric) and desired file output. As a general rule of thumb, organic shapes tend to fall into the Digital Modeling category, as do polygonal models (STL Files) and Rapid NURBS Dumb Solids.

A Polygonal Model is a faceted (or tessellated) model consisting of many triangles. Facets are formed by connecting points within the point cloud. STL files can be used for visualization, rapid prototyping, design, milling, and analysis software.

A Rapid NURBS ‘Dumb’ Solid (usually in IGS format) starts with the polygonal model. NURBS surfaces are wrapped over the polygonal wireframe. This wrapped surface model is smoother than a polygonal model. The NURBS model can be brought into parametric modellers such as SolidWorks (albeit with no parametric history – which is why we call it dumb).

The bridge between Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering is the hybrid Model. A Hybrid model is a polygonal model that has been converted in a rapid NURBS surface model and then also uses traditional solid modelling techniques. It is commonly used when basic geometric features, such as holes & edges, blend with complex organic contours, such as a machined casting.

Do Reverse Engineering and Digital Modeling ever Overlap?


In addition to Hybrid Models, there are instances when it is appropriate to use both Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering techniques. For example, when collecting data of a large object (such as a plane) for Reverse Engineering, it is necessary to use a laser scanner to capture the massive amounts of surface data. The data output from a laser scanner is a point cloud, but point clouds cannot be brought into any CAD packages. Before the data can be transferred into CAD it must be digitally modelled into either a polygonal model or a Rapid NURBS dumb solid.

The Digital Modeling Advantage

There can be a fine line between Digital Modeling and Reverse Engineering and sometimes both methods can be a valid solution to 3D problems. Some advantages of Digital Modeling are:

  • Digital Modeling generally offers a faster and more cost-effective solution.
  • It presents a great solution for creating solid models when an object has organic contours.
  • Offers excellent dimensional accuracy and can be utilized for comparative analysis.
  • While it is true that Rapid NURBS Dumb Solid models do not have parametric history, they can be utilized as a base for design work and Boolean functions are possible.
  • Unlike raw point clouds, Digital Models can be visualized in rendering software as a solid object, which is great for seeing the overall shape and contour of the model.

Getting Started

In Chapter Two we discussed data collection and various brands of scanners and digitizers that we use on a daily basis. Don’t worry! We won’t leave you hanging on what software packages we recommend for digital modelling. We use the following packages every day at DDI (in alphabetical order):

  • Geomagic Shape Studio: Polygonal and NURBS modelling and point cloud to CAD comparison. Geomagic can automatically generate an accurate digital model from any physical part.
  • PolyWorks Modeler: Polygonal modelling and point cloud to CAD comparison. PolyWorks can process large point clouds over 100 million points and easily integrates with all standard digitizers and articulating arms.
  • Rapidform: Third generation point processing software for creating native parametric "design-intent" CAD models directly from scan data. At Direct Dimensions, we often use Rapidform in Hybrid Modeling but it also has a great Rapid NURBS function.

Tackling Reverse Engineering

Now that you know a bit more about what we call Digital Modeling and why it can be a great option, you are ready to tackle Reverse Engineering in next post.

Contact Australian Design & Drafting Services for more information..


3d scanning service brisbane

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning – Data Collection

Now that you have a basic idea about how 3D scanning and modelling work, let’s really get started. Before you can have a 3D model, you must have 3D data to create that model. Let’s start there…

So, what are the ways that 3D data can be collected?

There are multiple ways to collect 3D data but two of the most common methods (and the two most frequently used by ASTCAD) are laser scanning and digitizing.

During laser scanning, a laser line is passed over the surface of an object in order to record three-dimensional information. The surface data is captured by a camera sensor mounted in the laser scanner which records accurate dense 3D points in space, allowing for very accurate data without ever touching the object.

Laser scanners can be broken down further into types such as laser line, patch, and spherical. The FARO ScanArm, the FARO LS, the Surphaser, Konica Minolta Vivid 9i and Range 7 are some examples of laser scanners that we often use at Direct Dimensions.

The second major method is digitizing, which is a contact-based form of 3D data collection. This is generally done by touching a probe to various points on the surface of the object to record 3D information. Using a point or ball probe allows the user to collect individual 3D data points of an object in space rather than large swathes of points at a time, like laser scanning. This method of data collection is generally more accurate for defining the geometric form of an object rather than organic freeform shapes. Digitizing is especially useful for industrial reverse engineering applications when precision is the most important factor. Stationary CMM’s (coordinate measurement machine), portable CMM arms, and the FARO Laser Tracker are all examples of digitizers that we often use at Direct Dimensions.

Other methods of collecting 3D data include white light scanning, CT scanning and photo image-based systems. These technologies are being utilized more frequently in the field of 3D scanning and new applications are being discovered every day.

To be digitized or laser scanned?

A general “rule” is that scanning is better for organic shapes and digitizing is most accurate for geometric shapes. In general, laser scanning is also used for higher-volume work (larger objects like cars, planes, and buildings). Laser scanning is also a great option for people who need 3D data of an object but would prefer that the object not be touched, such as for documentation of important artifacts.

Digitizing is often used for our engineering projects and first article inspections, in instances where precise measurements are required for geometrically-shaped subjects. This includes objects that have defined lines and planes and curved shapes, like spheres and cylinders.

This doesn’t mean that you can never laser scan a part with many geometric features or that you can’t digitize a plane (an entire plane can be digitized, believe us – we’ve done it!) or even a sculpture. These are just rules of thumb.

Utilizing multiple methods of Data Collection

There are projects when it is more cost and time effective to use multiple methods of data collection. A good example is a cast part with geometric machined features. You might need a 3D model of the entire part but really need incredible accuracy on the machined features while the freeform cast surface itself is not as important. In such a case it can be much more effective to laser scan the entire part and then digitize the geometric features. The data can be combined during the modelling phase (more on that in the following chapters).

Additional Scanning Information

Because you are trying to collect the most accurate data possible, there are a few more things to keep in mind before you run out and start scanning everything in sight.

  • Bright light sources in the area, including the sun, can really mess up your scan data. At Direct Dimensions, if we are laser scanning an object outdoors we prefer to do it at night if able. Light can reflect off of your scanning object and create “noisy” data. This brings us to:
  • Very reflective materials generally do not scan well. This can be avoided with a light coating of white powder spray (or anything that dulls the reflectivity). There are also some scanner manufacturers who are actively working to solve this problem.
  • Fixturing: whether you are laser scanning or digitizing, it important that your scan object will not move while you are collecting data. The tiniest motion will cause inaccurate data.
  • If you need hard to reach/impossible to see internal data, you should consider CT scanning or destructive slicing, both can be great ways to augment your data. (more on those later).

Moving on to 3D modelling

Now that you have a good idea of what you need to collect data, you are ready to learn all about the various ways the data can be modelled. Chapters three through five will cover, 3D Modeling, Reverse Engineering, and Inspection Analysis.

Contact Australian Design & Drafting Services for more information.

3d scanning process 3d model

Everything You Wanted to Know About 3d Scanning – The Basics

Every year, we meet many people who think what we do is interesting, but aren’t quite sure how our 3D scanning technologies can help them. We’re sure that if you clicked on the link to read this article, you might be one of those people. Don’t worry, Australian Design and Drafting Services are here to help — our easy to follow primer on 3D scanning will help you discover the ways our cutting-edge technologies can help you and/or your company.

Almost Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning will cover the following topics in the continuing post:

  • Chapter 1: The Basics of 3D Scanning and Digital Modeling
  • Chapter 2: Different Methods for Data Collection
  • Chapter 3: Digital Modeling – Converting Raw Point Clouds into CAD Formats
  • Chapter 4: Reverse Engineering – Design-Intent CAD Models
  • Chapter 5: Inspection / Analysis – Comparison to CAD
  • Chapter 6: Downstream Applications for 3D Data
  • Chapter 7: Digital Model Formats – The Many Flavors of 3D CAD
  • Chapter 8: Using 3D Data for Visualization
  • Chapter 9: Rapid Prototyping – Making Physical Objects from Scan Data
  • Chapter 10: The Future – Desktop Scanning and Manufacturing

The Basics

What is a 3D model and how do you get it?

A 3D model is a digital representation of a physical object. If you already have an object, and you want it in a digital form, that’s what we do. Direct Dimensions takes physical objects that you send to us and we use advanced 3D scanning equipment to capture and transform them into 3D digital models.

We do this by processing the raw data gathered during a 3D scan into a digital model that can then be used by you for many purposes. In the next chapter, we’ll cover the different methods for collecting this data, including laser scanning and digitizing. A 3D model is incredibly versatile.

Why do I need a 3D model?

3D models can be used for many purposes like making an animation or visualization. They can be used to make design changes to make a new product. They can be used to perform a dimensional and comparative analysis of an object, or even FEA and CFD analysis. They can be used for archival purposes – to accurately record the state or form of an object. They can be used to digitally repair the damage that has been done to an object which can then reproduce that object in its proper form using rapid prototyping and milling technologies. They can even record your face in intricate detail! (And yes, some of our lasers are eye-safe!). There are no limits as to what can be done once something has been captured in 3D.

In short, our technologies allow almost any physical object to be recreated into a 3D digital format that can be used for just about anything you want.

When? Where? How Large? What are the limitations?

With our various technologies, we can capture objects indoors or outdoors, during the day or at night. The sky is the limit for how large and we also have technology that can capture even the smallest objects. Some of our equipment is portable so we can come to your facility, or you are encouraged to ship your items to our lab.

On the large side, Direct Dimensions has successfully scanned entire aeroplanes, historic monuments, ships and subs, tracts of land, and large interior spaces like buildings. We’ve scanned mid-size objects like spacesuits, countless consumer products and artwork. We’ve also done tiny, finely-detailed items like coins, medical devices, and dental appliances. We’ve even captured fingerprints and skin textures! The bottom line is that whatever your object, the tools exist to scan it, and it’s likely we use them.

What’s next?

Now that you know the basics of what can be scanned and how 3D data can be used, you are ready to learn more about the different methods we use for data collection!

Stay tuned to our next post. Do You have any urgent requirements? Do contact us for more information..

AutoCAD 2016, AutoCAD’s Latest Release, Visual Accuracy

How to use Autocad New feature Visual Accuracy

The new release of AutoCAD 2016 features certain significant improvements. These improvements include a more comprehensive canvas, richer design context, and intelligent tools such as Smart Dimensioning, Coordination Model, Enhanced PDFs, and Stunning Visual Experience.

AutoCAD software tools are known worldwide for providing 2D and 3D design features, documentation and collaboration processes for any design task. Furthermore, the software tools enable designers to share their work with one another by using TrustedDWG® technology.

The purpose of this article is to:

  • Look briefly at the new features present in the newest AutoCAD release,
  • Identify significant changes between the newest and previous software releases,
  • Determine the impact of Visual Accuracy and other major benefits which the newest release of AutoCAD provides.

What New Features are Present in the Autocad 2016 Newest Release?

  • With Smart Dimensioning, appropriate measurements are created automatically, based on the drawing context. Bypassing the cursor over a selected object, the designer gets a preview of the dimension before creating it. For example, by selecting and holding a cursor over the cross-section of a duct, modified inner and outer diameters can be previewed before they are created.
  • The Coordination Model makes it possible to attach and view Navisworks® and BIM 360 Glue models directly inside AutoCAD. This makes it possible to import architectural design data created by Navisworks or to import a building design project into AutoCAD. The ability to merge design data between AutoCAD and BIM models provides the framework for KBE (Knowledge-Based Engineering), and for maintaining concurrency and synergy between product design teams.
  • The Enhanced PDFs feature makes it possible to quickly create smarter, smaller and powerful PDF files which are text searchable.
  • The Visual Experience feature enables the engineer to see design details with certain visual enhancements such as Line Fading. True curves are used instead of line segments for image rendering. For example, a circle is created as a continuous curve rather than several straight line segments. Instead of performing several Undo operations, a Command preview enables the designer to see the results of a command before committing to it. Large selection sets are easier to copy or move.
  • The designer is able to customize his/her design environment and systems settings and to prevent unwanted changes from being made.

In What Areas Are There Significant Software Changes?

The following list highlights significant software changes between AutoCAD 2016 (newest release) and previous versions of AutoCAD.

In terms of User Interaction, AutoCAD 2016 provides:

  • The Help Find tool, Improved graphics, Command preview, and resizable viewports are improved in AutoCAD 2016 and AutoCAD 2015.
  • The Move/Copy feature has been boosted in AutoCAD 2016 over previous versions.

In terms of the Design Interface, AutoCAD 2016 provides:

  • Center of polygon object snap
  • High-fidelity lines and curves
  • Coordination model
  • Point cloud dynamic UCS (Unified Computing System) and geometry extraction

In terms of Documentation, AutoCAD 2016 provides:

  • Revision Cloud enhancements
  • Smart dimensioning
  • PDF enhancements and optimized file output
  • The searchable text and hyperlink support in exported PDFs
  • Simplified, powerful rendering
  • Overriding of Xref (External Reference File in a cloud system) layer properties

What Major Benefits does the Newest Release of Autocad Provide?

The previous section of this article mentioned significant software improvements between AutoCAD 2016 and previous versions. It may be informative to look more closely at what some of these software improvements mean.

Coordination Models enable design data from Navisworks and BIM360 models (NWC, NWD) to be attached directly into AutoCAD. This feature supports the collaborative and synergistic product development model available in BIM. This feature also supports KBE (Knowledge-Based Engineering) and Expert Systems, which is important for retaining in-house design expertise and knowledge.

Smart dimensioning speeds up design work, because many “Undo” commands can be avoided by using the Preview feature in the new software release. Instead of establishing a dimension for an object and undoing it in order to create a new dimension, the object can be selected with the cursor, previewed or “hovered over”, before establishing the dimension.

The “Snap to geometric centre” feature enables the designer to snap to the centre of closed regular or irregular polylines.

Improvements to the drawing canvas dramatically improve the visual accuracy seen on screen. Although the human visual system can interpret a series of jagged line segments as an integrated smooth curve, it is much better to represent smooth curves and arcs with true curves. Doing so creates graphic objects with true fidelity and visual acuity, and creates a much better viewing experience.

A number of preset rendering options have been introduced, such as “Coffee-Break Quality”. Image-based lighting has been introduced to improve visual rendering.

The “UI finder” utility makes it easy to find just about anything in AutoCAD’s UI, including entries on the application menu and the status bar.

PDF enhancements create smaller files (about half the size of previous PDFs). The PDFs are generated quicker, and they permit text search and selection, even with multibyte and Unicode characters. Furthermore, SHX fonts (which have the source text added as a comment) are supported. Hyperlinks are maintained, whether they are embedded URLs or links between drawing content.

The System Variable Monitor (Sysvar) protects the design engineer from having his established or preset environment from being altered. In a multi-tasking environment, it is likely that an impolite application may alter sysvar settings, but fail to reset them to their previous settings after the application has completed its tasks.


Although this article sounds as if it is focused on sales or marketing, its purpose is to keep the CAD engineer aware of improved software features (such as improved visual accuracy in AutoCAD 2016) which become available in new CAD software releases.

The CAD engineer works in a fast-paced environment in which technological progress should be expected. In order to stay current and not to become obsolete, it is necessary for the CAD engineer to be aware of improved capabilities in new software releases.

Australian Design & Drafting Services provide excellent Autocad service for CAD Design and Drafting. Contact Us for more info

CAD, Drafting, cad drafting,CAD software

CAD Drafting and Residential Design

Imagine being able to walk through your new home or office building, go into every room, try out different colors on the walls or make changes to the design – before it’s even built. It sounds pretty amazing, and it is. That is the world of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drafting.

Not too long ago you would find the designer or architect bent over a drafting table using a pencil, ruler and eraser, slowly drafting every detail by hand. Today’s designers use sleek, super-fast computers and CAD software systems that can quickly and perfectly create, edit, then display finished projects in breathtaking 3-D computer renderings.

There are other software systems with similar acronyms, but they are essentially the same application with subtle differences in function. Two of these other systems, CADD (Computer-Aided Design and Drafting) and CAID (Computer-Aided Industrial Design) are the most commonly used.

From the minute you get up in the morning, almost everything you will see or touch or use during the day had its beginnings as a CAD drafting project on a computer somewhere. Your car and every part in it, your electronics, furniture, your home and office, even your deodorant jar and the packages your food comes in were more than likely drafted using CAD.

The History of CAD

Like most great inventions, CAD drafting had humble beginnings, but the potential was immediately apparent. Software companies and thousands of dedicated developers and programmers saw that potential and have worked tirelessly for over 30 years now to develop and bring CAD drafting programs to where they are today. The results have been no less than spectacular.

The initial developments that led to today’s CAD programs were first carried out in the early 1960’s and 1970’s in the aerospace and automotive industries. Both industries were independently developing the first CAD systems. Most people agree that the real breakout point was the development of SKETCHPAD at MIT in 1963. The main feature of SKETCHPAD was that it allowed the designer to work with the program by drawing on the monitor with a light pen. This was essentially the first GUI (Graphical User Interface) and is the most

The first programs were only available to large corporations in the automotive, aerospace and electronics industries. These were the only companies that could afford the expensive computers and computing power needed to do the calculations needed to run the programs. The leaders in developing these first programs were GM, Lockheed and Renault.

The first CAD programs in the 1970’s were only capable of creating 2D drawings similar to the hand-drafted drawings of the time. But even those first simple programs were changing the face of manufacturing and construction design. The programs quickly evolved over the years as computer processing speed and power and graphics capabilities increased. In the 1980’s the next major step toward modern CAD was achieved with the advent of the ability to do 3D solid modeling.

In 1981 two solid modeling packages were released- Romulus by (ShapeData) and Uni-Solid by (Unigraphics). In 1982 John Walker founded Autodesk which developed one of the most famous 2D CAD programs, AutoCAD. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the solid modeling kernels for rendering 3D designs were integrated into the new CAD programs for the first time. As computing prices came down, so did the potential and the promise of CAD drafting for smaller companies. This now made it possible for any company to afford a high-quality CAD design program. The 1990’s saw the release of some of the most popular mid-range packages. SolidWorks was released in 1995, SolidEdge was released in 1996, and IronCAD was released in 1998.
Different Types of CAD SystemsMost CAD computer workstations are Windows-based PCs with some running on Unix and a few on Linux machines. Usually no special hardware is needed except for a high-end OpenGL Graphics card for renderings. Also, more is always better when it comes to computing power. A machine with dual-processors and massive amounts of RAM is needed for maximum performance on complex projects.

CAD systems can be separated into three different types: 2D drafting systems like AutoCAD LT (also known as Autocad “Light”); 3D solid feature modelers like Architectural Desktop, Chief Architect, ArchiCAD, Alibre Design, VariCAD SolidWorks and SolidEdge; and high-end 3D hybrid systems like Pro/ENGINEER and NX (Unigraphics).

The human interface is usually a mouse but a trackball or pen and tablet can also be used. The model can be manipulated and viewed from different perspectives and angles. On some systems you can even use stereoscopic glasses for viewing in true 3D.Today there are many low-end 2D systems available and even a number of free and open source programs. All these programs provide an ease of design not possible with hand drafting on a traditional drawing sheet. For example, in 2D drafting a wall in a house would be drawn as 2 parallel lines spaced a certain distance apart, say, 6 inches. To insert a door into the wall, you would follow a process similar to manual drafting- you would first erase part of the wall, then draw in the lines representing a door. In 2D, each line is inserted manually into the design. The end design has no mass properties and you can’t add features such as holes, etc. directly.

With a basic (low-end) 3D modeling program, to draw that same wall you would not have to draw individual lines- instead, you would click on an icon for the ‘draw wall’ command and use your mouse (or trackball) to specify the length and location. To insert a door, you simply specify the size and location of the door- the software automatically erases that portion of the wall where the door goes. Over the course of designing an entire house or building, tools such as these can save countless hours. You can then use the solid model to generate views of the project from any viewpoint or angle- something that 2D programs cannot do.

3D parametric solid modeling represents the high end of CAD. With 3D parametric solid modeling programs such as Alibre Design, Solid Works and Solid Edge, the designer must use what is called ‘design intent’. This means that the design has to be thought of as a real world representation of the object. You are able or unable to make changes to the object the same way you would make them to a real world object. Therefore, parametric solids require the designer to think ahead and consider his actions carefully.

The top-end systems include the ability to add more organic aesthetics and features to the design, such as photorealistic colors and surface textures. Surface modeling combined with solid modeling is used to create most day-to-day products for consumers.The CAD designer should be forward-looking as he designs and the objective should be to make future work on the design as easy as possible. This means the designer needs to have a firm understanding of the system being used. A little extra attention and careful planning in design now can save a lot of grief later.

In the late 1980’s the advent of affordable CAD programs that ran on desktop computers led to downsizing in the drafting departments of many small- to mid-sized companies. Typically one CAD operator could replace three to five drafters using traditional drafting techniques. Also many engineers opted to do their own drafting work which eliminated the need for dedicated drafters.This phenomenon was also reflected in other areas of the typical office. As word processors, databases, spreadsheets, etc. became the norm, many jobs were eliminated as multiple functions across several jobs could now be done by one person on a single computer.

The adoption of the CAD studio, or as it is also called ‘paper-less studio’, in design schools was met with major resistance. Teachers were afraid that designing and sketching on a computer screen could not duplicate the artistry of traditional sketching on a drafting pad. Also, many teachers were worried that students would be hired, not for their design skills, but for their software and computer skills. Today CAD is recognized as an essential design tool and is taught across the board in architecture schools.It is interesting to note that not all architects have joined the CAD bandwagon. Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, winner of the 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize, has a small office with minimal CAD capability.

Different CAD Industries

CAD drafting is now used in all phases of design across all industries. Specific industries have developed specialized applications of CAD systems. Below are some of the main industries using CAD and their related CAD applications.
The AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) Industry

  • Residential and Commercial Architecture & Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Structural Engineering
  • Construction
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mapping and Surveying
  • Highways and Roads
  • Water and Sewer Systems
  • Factory Layout
  • Industrial Plant Design
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Machinery
  • Consumer Goods
  • Shipbuilding
  • Biomechanical Systems
  • Electronic and Electrical (ECAD)
  • Digital Circuit Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Computer Graphic Animation (CGA)

CAD Drafting Today

One of the major advantages – and one of the biggest payoffs – of CAD drafting today, is the reduction in design time and therefore the amount of money it can save on a project. In manufacturing, CAD drafting helps keep design costs down which translates into cost savings for the consumer.

In residential or commercial design the amount of time saved can be enormous. As an example, let’s say you are looking for a designer or architect to design your home. The designer can create a design: (a) from scratch based on your idea or concept; (b) from photos of actual houses; or (c) based on a previous design which can be easily modified in CAD.

CAD design companies will typically have many different home or building designs available to choose from. It is easy for a client to look through the designs then select one they like. They can use the design as-is or easily customize it to their own tastes. Clients can even take design elements from different projects and combine them to create an entirely new home or building. The possibilities are endless.

Making small changes to a CAD design- for instance, moving walls, windows or even whole rooms- typically takes minutes or hours, not days. This would have been a huge and very expensive task in the days before CAD drafting.

There are many CAD design companies that can serve your residential or commercial design needs and many of them offer complete project management as well as design and drafting of the project.

CAD drafting will no doubt continue to evolve and become more powerful, and remain, next to the computer, as one of the most important technological developments of our age. Australian Design & Drafting Services provide excellent service for CAD Design and  Drafting. Contact Us for more info

CAD, CAD Technology, dynamic modeling, CAD modeling

How CAD Technology benefits from Dynamic Modeling

Alexander Pope, in the 17th century, coined the phrase “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. This phrase holds true in many cases, because a small amount of knowledge could lead to overconfidence. An overconfident person is likely to make decisions hastily without taking all facts into account.

What does this phrase have to do with Computer Aided Design? A CAD engineer who is trained primarily to use CAD software tools, but who lacks sound theoretical training, fits this phrase in many respects. Such a CAD engineer who has successfully solved many routine design problems with CAD tools could become overconfident in his/her design skills.

The time will come when this overconfident engineer, who lacks adequate theoretical training, models a non-routine problem incorrectly and misinterprets the results. Consequently, an incorrect design for a product is implemented. Unless the design error is caught and fixed, the launched product will be an accident waiting to happen. Failure of a poorly-designed product could cost a company a lot of time, money, and loss of reputation.

Many CAD and engineering organizations are aware of such dangers, and they include Dynamic Modeling into their product design cycles. Doing so provides “checks and balances” before a design materializes into a product.

This article examines the roles that Dynamic Modeling plays in CAD-driven product design.

Specifically, the article tries to answer these questions:

  • What is Dynamic Modeling, and is it needed for all product designs?
  • Are all CAD engineers qualified to perform CAD enabled dynamic modeling?
  • What are the benefits of Dynamic Modeling?
  • How is Dynamic Modeling being used?

What Is Dynamic Modeling and Is It Needed for all Product Designs?

Dynamic modeling simulates the behavior of an object over time. In engineering, dynamic models are described in terms of causal loops or feedback and control systems.

The causal loop captures the structural makeup or components that comprise a complex system or product, and the interactions between them. Computer models are built to simulate how the system responds to time-varying states and external loads, and how the system responds over time.

Dynamic modeling is not restricted to time-variant behavior of physical structures, but it is also used for artificial intelligence, economics, psychology, political science, and many other disciplines.

Not all products require dynamic modeling. For example, stationary objects such as statues are not subjected often to time varying externals loads such as wind forces or earthquakes. Therefore, static models suffice for determining their structural integrity.

Examples of good candidates for dynamic modeling are:

  • Bridges, which experience variable loadings, wind forces, and perhaps earthquakes.
  • Offshore oil production platforms, which are subjected to ocean waves, wind, and current loadings.
  • Automobiles, which are subjected to shock loadings and aerodynamic forces.
  • Buildings and structures in earthquake-prone areas, because they endure seismic loadings. 

Are all CAD Engineers Qualified to Perform CAD Enabled Modeling?

Not all CAD engineers have the skills to perform dynamic modeling adequately. CAD software tools which provide its capabilities will incorporate them as FEA, CFD, and other software packages. The CAD engineer who has not taken advanced courses in Solid Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, Feedback and Control Systems, Vibration Analysis, Random Mechanics, and similar courses may lack sufficient theoretical skills to adequately model and interpret non-routine design problems with CAD software.

Dynamic modeling which is performed incorrectly could produce design errors with disastrous consequences, if the errors:

  • Are not detected and corrected by peers,
  • Are not detected during design reviews,
  • Are not detected during the prototyping and testing phase.

Once a poorly designed product is launched, the consequences could mean applying fixes in the field, having a product recall, or withdrawing a product. None of these options is desirable, because it creates customer dissatisfaction, possible lawsuits, loss of income, and loss of reputation.

What are the Benefits of Dynamic Modeling?

If properly performed, Dynamic Modeling can reveal design flaws that may not show up readily during the prototyping and testing phases of the product design cycle.

Unique benefits that dynamic modeling provides include:

  • Identifying interactions between subsystems of a complex product which may be too expensive to create during physical prototyping and testing,
  • Identifying potential failure modes which should be tested in physical prototypes, before hard tooling,
  • Simulating dynamic loadings which may be difficult to create during actual testing,
  • Identifying functional limitations on the use of a product.

Although some complex systems may be difficult to model accurately, it provides extra product performance data from virtual prototypes. Testing and validation of data obtained from virtual prototypes within physical prototypes should create a robust and reliable design.

How is Dynamic Modeling being used?

A few examples should clarify the benefits that Dynamic Modeling brings to CAD design work.

  • Engineers at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) are building a horizontal smokestack computer model called the Scale-Model Smokestack Simulator. The Dynamic Model will predict the amount of carbon dioxide coming out of smokestacks with 1% accuracy, compared with current measurement accuracy of 10 to 20%. This Dynamic Model will make it easier to address the problem of CO2 emissions which the EPA is concerned about.
  • The University of Le Havre uses Dynamic Modeling to efficiently calculate optimized mold measurements for a ship hull.
  • SolidWorks provides modeling software within their CAD offerings for all types of industrial robot movements. The software also translates code from one robot to another, and can import models from major CAD systems.
  • It is being used extensively to study the impact of Self Driving vehicles on traffic flow.


When it is used effectively and correctly, creates virtual product prototypes that can identify failure modes and functional limitations of a design at an early stage.

When dynamic modeling is used together with Additive Manufacturing (or 3D printing) for physical product prototyping, the design cycle could be significantly shortened. Consequently, reliable and cost effective products will be launched, and the cost saving will benefit both the product manufacturer and the consumer.

Australian Design & Drafting Services provide excellent service for CAD Design and  Drafting. Contact Us for more info

3D printing, music industry, music storage, computer-aided design

How Music Industry impacted by 3D Printing

Prior to digital preservation of works of art, books were stored on microfiche, while music, pictures and movies were stored on film. One benefit of storing information in digitized form is that it can be transported electronically, so that backup copies of the information can be placed at many remote locations. Another benefit is that the fidelity of the information is preserved indefinitely.Unfortunately, it is likely that significant amounts of music, movies and works of art may have been lost forever because reliable methods of preserving music were not previously available. For example, lots of music that had been stored on wax discs and were played on phonographs, or many old movies that had been stored on reels may not be restorable. Although many original recordings have now been digitized, natural degradation of wax recordings and tapes have made large amounts of music and movies unrecoverable. Even though many old movies and music have now been digitally remastered, true fidelity of the multimedia data may have been lost.

Works of art that have the most longevity have been preserved in several forms. Some artifacts remain as carvings on stone and wood, some artifacts remain as statues, and some artifacts remain as stylus-based ink recordings on papyri, scrolls, paper, and on other media. Except for stone carvings and statues which could be considered to a reasonable extent as naturally non-destructible, recordings on wood-based products such as papyri, scrolls and paper degrade quickly in high humidity environments. Recordings on wood-based media need low humidity or vacuum storage conditions to survive over long periods of time.

It only takes a natural or man-made disaster to lose objects of cultural and historical value for ever. For example, a significant amount of the rich jazz musical heritage of New Orleans may have been lost during the hurricane Katrina, together with other artifacts that were stored on destructible media.

The need to preserve musical data brings up the question “How has 3D printing impacted the music industry?” To answer this question, it will be helpful to address these topics:

  • What methods have been used historically to store music?
  • What modern methods are now utilized for storing music?
  • How useful is 3D printing for the music industry?

What Methods Have Been Used Historically To Store Music?

The traditional method for storing music relies on writing music on sheets of paper. For example, classical orchestral works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and others are available as published sheet music.

This method for storing music cannot provide good longevity and permanence because (a) the medium for storing the music (paper and ink) degrades over time, and (b) the stored music can be easily lost due to fire or floods.

Improvements to storing music utilize an audio format, together with physical recording media.

Over the last 100 years, musical storage relied on the following methods:

  • Prior to the year 1900, audio data in the form of sound waves were transcribed to paper, glass and wax cylinders as mechanical analog signals recorded as lateral grooves. Stylus motion over the grooves was used to render the recorded audio data. Products in this era include the Edison phonograph, the Dictaphone and the phonograph disk.
  • Between 1900 and 1948, improvements to sound recordings utilized magnetization and electrical amplification of analog signals to produce high fidelity audio. Products in this era include the magnetic tape, audio cassettes, and vinyl phonograph discs. Tape speeds ranged from , and discs at.
  • Between 1948 and 1970, significant audio signal processing techniques utilized Dolby noise reduction and stereophonic rendition. Products in this era include the 4-track and 8-track stereo, the compact cassette, the microcassette and the minicassette.
  • After 1970, digital processing technology produced advanced products that utilize audio formats such as MPEG, MLP, and many other audio formats found in products that provide CDs, DVDs, HD DVD, and Blu-ray technology.

What Modern Methods Are Now Utilized For Storing Music?

Because the music library continues to grow at an alarming rate, compression methods have been developed to store voluminous amount of audio data on the cloud, and to make them available to users by using web streaming technology.

Well-known competitors in this audio storage and streaming market place include the following:

  • Apple’s iTunes stores over 43 million songs. The songs can be downloaded on iPhones, iPad, iPod or other Apple-based products. The audio formats are limited to Apple approved formats, but conversion software is available for other formats. The service does not use web streaming.
  • The Amazon Cloud Player provides a service similar to Apple iTunes. However, the Amazon Player utilizes a compression that is lossier than iTunes. Being lossy means that the original music is not rendered with true fidelity. Portions of the audio signal are dropped when rendered in such a way that the human ear cannot easily detect the difference between the true and rendered sound.
  • Google Play Music provides free access to over 30 million songs. Because this service is free, it may be considered a bargain, compared with the other paid services. Both Amazon and Google services utilize web streaming.

How Useful Is 3D Printing For The Music Industry?

An amazing benefit that 3D printing brings is that musical recordings stored in digital format can be recalled and reprinted at will. For sentimental reasons, many people like to play music that was previously available only on phonographs. With 3D printing, both old and modern music can be stored in digital form, to be retrieved and 3D printed on improved durable media. As more sophisticated materials become available for 3D printers, high quality audio recordings can be printed with outstanding audio fidelity and rendition.

Apart from printing musical recordings, 3D printers can print musical instruments such as guitars, drums, pianos and saxophones. The list of musical instruments will grow as more 3D printing materials are discovered.

To summarize, it is reasonable to conclude that 3D printing makes it possible to:

  • Store music digitally and reproduce it faithfully,
  • Print a variety of musical instruments.

Australian Design & Drafting Services provide excellent service for 3D Printing and Prototype Design.Contact Us for more info