Producers of everything from cars to shoes have something important in common. A designer’s 2D sketch must be transformed into a 3D virtualisation, with computer-assisted design (CAD) specialists as the gatekeepers to the eventual realisation of a prototype. This step increases time and cost, as well as the potential for miscommunication. In the end, the original concept can transform into something quite different in the CAD output, not to mention the real 3D model. The EU-funded Gravity Sketch project is revolutionising the design process to maintain integrity and bring concepts to life faster. Its innovative design tool enables the designers to create 3D virtualisations themselves with minimal training. Like artists painting a 3D canvas Through consultation with numerous designers in various fields, the Gravity Sketch team was surprised to discover that product design remains quite manual even in today’s digital world. “In the automotive industry, for example,” explains project coordinator and co-founder of Gravity Sketch Limited Daniela Paredes, “multiple models of cars are made in 1:1 scale out of clay. In the apparel industry, shoe designs are mocked up directly on physical shoe lasts and rough designs are physically cut and stitched onto it. Airplane interiors designed by agencies are made up at 1:1 scale in cardboard.” Gravity Sketch is turning that paradigm on its head. The tool utilises VR and common platforms including tablets and smartphones. Relying on sophisticated mathematics for generating curves and surfaces, the software creates 3D and even life-size renditions of an artist’s design concept as s/he moves her hands in space. As Paredes explains, “Gravity Sketch is the only immersive 3D sketching tool built on a non-uniform rational basis spline (NURBS)-based geometry engine, which allows export into industry standard CAD software. This allows 3D modellers to simply tweak sketches imported from Gravity Sketch, rather than build from scratch from a 2D Adobe Photoshop sketch.” In a particularly close collaboration with Ford, designers have reported creating a 3D rendering in about a week compared to several months using the conventional design cycle. Overall, the Gravity Sketch tool can reduce the time of the design process by up to 60 %, facilitating fast presentation of a 3D product to stakeholders. Designing the future More than 10 000 designers have taken advantage of Gravity Sketch and the tool has also received international recognition and awards. However, the main goal of the Gravity Sketch project was to determine the feasibility of positioning Gravity Sketch for success in the global market. An extensive market study returned a resounding affirmative response. It identified key sectors ripe for commercial penetration, including entertainment and media as well as industrial design in addition to the well-known automotive industry. The total serviceable market could reach EUR 7 billion by 2025. The team has developed a business plan and it is going full steam ahead. In the meantime, Gravity Sketch is helping prepare the next generation of designers. Through Gravity Sketch’s Excellence Centres’ programme, students are using the cutting-edge software in their studies, spurring excitement, enthusiasm, and creativity for a future without rigid boundaries.
Gravity Sketch, design, designer, tool, industry, virtual reality (VR), software, computer-assisted design (CAD), automotive industry, design cycle