Italian solution for automotive stylists

The world’s lowest-cost and easiest-to-use product definition software was introduced in the Indian market last fortnight. SolidThinking is the conceptual design tool of choice for leading automotive styling houses Italdesign-Giugiaro and Pininfarina, automotive OEMs Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo Truck, Tier-1 supplier Automotive Lighting (a subsidiary of the Magneti Marelli Group), and race wear manufacturer Dainese.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 17 Feb 2009 Views icon7256 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The world’s lowest-cost and easiest-to-use product definition software was introduced in the Indian market last fortnight. SolidThinking is the conceptual design tool of choice for leading automotive styling houses Italdesign-Giugiaro and Pininfarina, automotive OEMs Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo Truck, Tier-1 supplier Automotive Lighting (a subsidiary of the Magneti Marelli Group), and race wear manufacturer Dainese.

Having originated in 1991 in Italy, that cradle and hothouse of automotive, furniture, and apparel design, solidThinking was acquired by Altair Engineering last year, and has been brought to India by Pune-based CAD/CAM/CAE sales and services firm DesignTech Systems Ltd.

It is expected to be priced at Rs 3.5 lakh per licence, less than half what the styling software currently available is sold for.

Ideal tool

The desktop software, which works on both PC and Mac platforms, is an ideal tool for true conceptual design because it supports the industrial designer’s creative thinking processes with no restrictions, allowing him to develop his ideas or intuitions while working on the software so that he does not necessarily need to start out with a clear concept of the final design in mind, according to solidThinking product specialist Antonio Flores. “Compared to the mainstream engineering design CAD software, SolidThinking is more oriented to the conceptual phase, instead of the final design phase in which the final mathematics are defined for producibility,” adds Flores. Its powerful surfacing and solid and polygonal modelling tools use advanced NURBS (non-uniform rational B-splines) geometry for unrivalled flexibility and precision. And a unique construction tree encourages users to change their minds at any time during the design process without having to recreate innovations from scratch. This encourages experimentation, which is fundamental to true creativity, Flores says.

In fact solidThinking was specifically developed for “design research”, he points out. “For creating design objects there’s lots of software available. But companies that do real design research, not those that buy design from outside, are acutely aware of the limits of such software, which does a very good job of producing the design for something that has already been defined, but not for doing research.”

Another significant benefit of solidThinking is that it helps compress the product development cycle by enabling the complete transfer of design intent from designers to engineers through its ability to freely exchange 3D data with any CAD/CAM/CAE system. This also allows design and analysis engineers to maintain design intent without needing to confer with the original stylist for design changes.

Additionally, using its advanced analysis tools, the designer can verify that his model is suitable for manufacturing. Its powerful rendering tools can simulate real-world lighting effects to create photorealistic images that allow designers to visualise their product concepts in the real environments in which they will be used. As an example Flores cites Automotive Lighting, which uses solidThinking to render its rear lamps before production. “It’s easy to focus on the shape alone and see the final result on the computer. But when the materials are reflective or refractive, a big part of the design is the optical effect. So what happens is that if you have no system to predict the behaviour of the light within and emerging from the lamp, you will not be able to see the final result. Before they used our software, they would do the parametric design, but then discover in the prototypes that the light distribution created a bad art effect in terms of the visual result. Now they can predict this, and change the shape accordingly,” he says.

The product’s powerful rendering capabilities are of benefit not only at the first stage of product design, i.e. creative design, but also at the end, following the engineering design when the shape is completely defined, for the creation of marketing materials and Webpages. “SolidThinking allows you to work on your catalogue at the same time you work on your product,” Flores says.
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