Mechdyne upgrades industrial design with smartAR

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The new smartAR tool from Mechdyne provides a digital CAD overlay viewed on a tablet device. The tool has already been integrated into the workflow of a global automotive manufacturer

Quick read

➨ Using smartAR, designers can compare fixtures, colours and design elements in the computer-generated model, to the actual physical prototype
➨ The connection between the tablet and the high power CAD workstation server is bi-directional and is integrated with Mechdyne’s TGX remote desktop tool
➨ SmartAR supports existing production tools, such as Autodesk Alias Surface and Autodesk VRED Professional

The story

Immersive visualisation system developer Mechdyne Corporation has introduced a new AR tool to enhance the creative process during industrial design reviews.

SmartAR integrates with existing production tools to provide a digital computer-aided design (CAD) overlay viewed on a tablet device.

The CAD model snaps to position over physical prototypes for real-time annotation and changes. Concise and precisely positioned feedback to engineers reduces prototype iterations for automotive and aerospace designers and engineers.

Mechdyne said it has already integrated the review capability into the workflow of a global automotive manufacturer.

“For companies that build complex, scaled prototypes, smartAR integrates with the tools they already use to create, process, and visualise design features, providing seamless integration with existing workflows.”

David Gsell, Mechdyne Corporation

SmartAR is a “breakthrough for design-oriented manufacturers that need to ensure accuracy and greatly speed up the design process”, according to David Gsell, general manager of the software business unit at Mechdyne. 

He continued: “For companies that build complex, scaled prototypes, smartAR integrates with the tools they already use to create, process, and visualise design features, providing seamless integration with existing workflows.”

Using smartAR on a standard Windows-based tablet fitted with optical motion trackers, designers can compare fixtures, colours and design elements in the computer-generated model, to the actual physical prototype.

The image on the tablet maintains one-to-one scale with the real model representation, which can be a production vehicle or a model sculpted in clay. As the user and/or the tablet move around, the position and orientation of the CAD model remains accurate relative to the physical model.

The virtual model can be exterior information such as surfaces and colours or internal components under the physical surface, similar to an x-ray mode.

Using smartAR makes it easy to detect mechanical component clashes, or to visualise proposed changes to a model, according to Mechdyne. As an example, 3D animations of the mechanical operation of a new hinge or wing flap design can be overlaid onto a physical aerospace model to better understand clearances and impingements.

In another of Mechdyne’s examples, the tablet can overlay different colours and textures onto a vehicle seat, reducing the number of physical upholstered iterations needed.

The connection between the tablet and the high power CAD workstation server is bi-directional and is integrated with Mechdyne’s TGX remote desktop tool, which provides remote access to complex models and graphics-intensive datasets housed in distant locations. As the user moves the tablet around a physical prototype, the motion tracking system shows the appropriate position of the overlaid CAD model relative to its real-life location.

In addition to enabling the user to make precise notes and capture observations with the tablet, smartAR has the ability to capture pictures of the combined prototype and CAD image, which can then be imported into the production CAD model in the exact planar location and orientation of the physical prototype. The picture transparency can be varied to allow the production engineer to see through the image to the CAD model.

The tablet can also be used as an ‘x-ray’ system, moving through the entire computer model relative to its real-life counterpart to review placement of mechanical components such as the engine, axle shaft or steering system. The user can snapshot and/or annotate areas of interest to inform and expedite CAD changes.

SmartAR supports existing production tools, such as Autodesk Alias Surface and Autodesk VRED Professional, with capability to integrate with additional CAD programs in future developments or as required.

Main image: Using smartAR on a standard Windows-based tablet fitted with optical motion trackers, designers can compare fixtures, colours and design elements in the computer-generated model, to the actual physical prototype
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