With the rapid rate that technology evolves at, there is a constant flow of products or concepts that hope to become the next big thing. Some make it, some don’t. And whilst these products can be new and exciting, if they're produced with a view to be used in industry, they often don’t have a visible ROI to back them up early on. So it can take time for them to gain the confidence of an organisation, especially if they're perceived as being disruptive, instead of complementary.
It's still about Digital transformation
In recent years, companies have been concerned with developing their digital transformation strategy- their plan of action on how to strategically reposition themselves in the digital economy. And as we are constantly moving towards a more and more digitised world, this looks set to continue. But from an engineering perspective, is there anything that can be realised as a digital ‘game changer’ for an organisation in the next 12 months?
Entering the Metaverse
As we go into 2022, if you've been keeping an eye on tech news, you'll have probably heard a lot about the ‘Metaverse’.
At the moment, and as with most new innovations, there seems to be no solid general consensus on what the metaverse is, or how it works, but in it’s simplest form can be explained as a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection, with integration between virtual and physical spaces and virtual economies.
Currently however, the metaverse appears to mainly focus on the consumer and being used for social and leisure activities, so for those working in engineering and manufacturing industries, you may be able to attend meetings in the metaverse, but don’t need to pay too much attention to how it may affect your technical processes…yet.
Having said this, it does rely on the use of XR headsets, which is where we can get on board.
eXtending Reality to futureproof data
XR (eXtended Reality) was the buzzword a few years ago, and started from a consumer/gaming perspective. But gradually, the idea of using XR technology at an enterprise level began to gain traction.
With a steady rate of acceleration in adoption of Augmented (AR), Mixed (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, using XR has been establishing itself as a viable way to replace existing traditional engineering and manufacturing practices.
For engineers and manufacturers, XR enables the user to experience their 3D CAD data in context and at full scale, taking away the confines of having to imagine a 3D product on a 2D screen.
And getting started with XR is not as complicated as it may seem either. You can use existing 3D data, whether that’s MCAD, AEC CAD, Scanned data, ISO/ANSI standard data like STEP and JT, lightweight visualization formats such as 3D XML and Creo View.PVZ, and neutral formats such as FBX and glTF, and create 3D content for use in XR.
Businesses who have already implemented an XR strategy have discovered numerous ways in which to use AR, MR or VR to carry out everyday engineering tasks, such as design reviews, training, factory layout, visualization and inspection related jobs.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed these technologies into the spotlight, especially in regards to their remote collaboration capabilities. Teams who are located across the world can join the same XR session as their colleagues, and interact with the same CAD model, regardless of where they are- as long as there is a wi-fi connection you can join. You don’t even necessarily need an XR device, you can even join from a desktop (although you don’t get the same immersive ,3D full scale and in context experience).
With the preference for remote working looking set to stay into 2022, it is likely the rate of growth for these technologies will continue too.
But if using XR seems like too much of a leap, 3D PDF could be that first step in starting a digital transformation process…
Bridge the digital gap with 3D PDF
A digital transformation strategy doesn't necessarily mean using the latest disruptive technologies- it's about using digital technologies to replace or improve processes that may need updating as technology advances. For some that are tasked with devising and implementing their organisations digital transformation strategy, they may find that XR is not necessarily the right fit for them right now. But if they still need to adapt their business processes somehow, to digitise and futureproof them, then 3D PDF could bridge that gap.
3D PDF’s are really rich, interactive PDF documents that also contain native 3D CAD data such as CATIA V5, JT, NX, Creo, 3DEXPERIENCE. And it means that a recipient is able to open, view and interact with the document, and the 3D CAD data, without actually needing to have access to a CAD license- they only require the free Adobe Reader.
You get all of the same functionality you would in a usual 2D PDF, but you also get the benefit of it containing the CAD data. And you can use these documents on a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
3D PDF is taking designers and engineers away from the old ways of working with 2D, when drawings are printed off to pass around, changes are being scribbled on paper to then be applied to the CAD model on the designer’s workstation. It's moving them on to being able to work on and share their 3D models digitally. This also provides the added bonus of being able to go paperless.
3D PDF makes collaboration between colleagues, and the wider supply chain seamless, as no special skills or access to CAD licenses are required. It’s as simple as ‘Save as 3D PDF’ from within your CAD system, and can be integrated into your PLM system. And although you’re sharing CAD data, your IP is protected; 3D PDF’s can be password protected, watermarked or time-bombed, providing a secure way for 3D CAD data to be shared, in a document that is lightweight enough to be sent via email.
How can we help?
Theorem provides solutions for both XR and 3D PDF.
Theorem-XR enables engineering and manufacturing companies to work with their design data in XR. We prepare 3D CAD data for use in devices such as Microsoft HoloLens 2, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, which can then be utilised in a variety of engineering based use cases such as Visualization, Design Review, Factory Layout and Training. Working collaboratively, Theorem-XR allows remote teams and home-based staff to work in an immersive environment, consuming data in context and at full scale.
Our 3D PDF products create interactive 3D documentation such as Work Instructions, BOM’s, RFQ, RFC and Technical Data Packages (TDP), containing 3DEXPERIENCE, CATIA V5, NX, JT or Creo data.
So although the new tech on the block might look more futuristic and fun, looking back at products that were the ‘next big thing’ a few years ago might provide you with the innovation, along with a tangible ROI, you need today.