When developing products, especially from concept, a common problem arises for designers who work with Computer Aided Design (CAD) – an incorrect sense of scale. Common practice in concept sketches is to provide a way to convey scale of the product you are working on, whether it is a hand, a coin, a cup, etc. When translating the 2D sketch into 3D CAD, we often spend so much time concentrating on the form and the details that we often ‘forget’ how small or large the object really is since we are looking at it on the screen up close. Of course, it is possible to take a photo, screen capture your work, and superimpose it on the photo using a program like Adobe Photoshop, but this is time consuming and often not part of our defined tasks.
SolidWorks, makers of the CAD software we use most often, has come out with a set of iOS apps which allow us to see our 3D creations on Apple devices using their viewer standard called eDrawings. The eDrawings alone is a neat trick which allows us to free discussions of our work from our desks, but, in addition, a bonus they have cleverly added to the app is Augmented Reality. This essentially plops your work down right front of you at the precise scale so you can get a real feel for its size in the wild. The one catch is that it does require a QR code, which the app can email you so you can print it out. You can read more about it here and see an example of how the app works below.
Written by: Mark Eyman, Senior Product Design Engineer