Raise your eyebrow in a menacing way if you’ve ever received a really crumby .pdf, concept print or model data to create a production model from? If only there was a little more info or a way that the data could be transformed into usable 3D parametric data huh?

Adobe has just release a interesting program from their Labs called Flash Catalyst (formerly codename ‘Thermo’). It allows graphics designers to create user interfaces… without coding, transforming the graphics into working examples that developers can then use to complete a website or app.

Now, apply this to SolidWorks and 3D engineering data. Could designers transform their concept sketches into 3D data using a program that automatically creates the parametric data, that could then be pulled into SolidWorks?

The possibilities?
Stupid idea or are there actual possibilities. I remember times working with designers that would use SolidWorks to create dumb models. It was parametric, but still unusable ot create the engineering data. But what if the ‘catalyst’ program created the parametric data itself. Features and geometry engineers could use. Some things this program could do?

  • Turn Layers into solid parts
  • Take any graphic and turn it into geometry
  • Convert blocks to features
  • Recognize shaded faces
  • Selectable dependencies to set parametric intent

Can what is done within graphical applications be done with CAD applications?
Taking a design created in a graphical program (or AutoCAD) and creating parametric data underneath sounds incredible daunting and almost dangerous, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. To me, you might as well learn how to create the geometry in the 3D program, since your learning what you need to do with an intermediate program to get it all to work in the main program.

Some would say programs like this already exist. They do to a certain extent and there’s more functionality being built into mid-range CAD applications where designers and engineers work on the same platform handing designs back and forth. Does that make it easier though? It certainly seems like it would.

Oh, one other thing. Make it a cross-platform app that works on PC, Mac and Linux. There ya go.

What do you think the possibilities are? What if this could smooth out the conflict and communication between design and engineering? That could be very useful and maybe a bit more productive.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.