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solidThinking: Making Product Design More Intuitive

Back in 1991, brothers Mario and Alex Mazzardo and two skilled developers began working on a 3D modeling and design software built around the Nextstep operating system in their home town of Vicenza, Italy. “Nextstep was an innovative operating system,” says Alex Mazzardo, v.p.

Back in 1991, brothers Mario and Alex Mazzardo and two skilled developers began working on a 3D modeling and design software built around the Nextstep operating system in their home town of Vicenza, Italy. “Nextstep was an innovative operating system,” says Alex Mazzardo, v.p. Product Strategy and Marketing, solidThinking (Troy, MI; www.solidthinking.com), “but it was a product with a very small niche until Steve Jobs took it back to Apple with him and made it the base for OS X.” The software was quickly rewritten to work in the Windows/Intel environment, and modified to emphasize its product design capabilities and implement a “construction tree” that gives real-time updates when modifications are made to curves, parameters, or surfaces. Users can browse a graphic representation of the design history to identify and select source objects and actions, and initiate an immediate reconstruction when items are added, moved or replaced since this information is saved inside the file.

However, by extending the software’s capability to the very earliest phases of the process, says solidThinking president Bob Little, “The sketch phase is pulled out of the 2D environment in a way that not only makes more iterations possible, it creates a file backbone that can be understood by the engineering community and allows them to insert references and tolerances so the design doesn’t move beyond what is possible.” In fact, says Mazzardo, because the rendering files can contain material and other attributes, watch and jewelry designers often move directly from the final design file to production, something he doesn’t expect his automotive clients to try just yet.—CAS