THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE ENABLING PLANNING AND DESIGN WITH SKETCH NOTEBOOKS

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1 THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE ENABLING PLANNING AND DESIGN WITH SKETCH NOTEBOOKS

2 MAKERS HAVE ARRIVED, TOOLS TO DESIGN HAVE NOT Makers have arrived. More than just a trendy extension of the Do- It-Yourself (DIY) movement, Makers are now becoming an engrained part of our culture. They are producing innovative products out of their garages, building ingenious technologies in maker-spaces and transforming into startups and successful companies. Anyone can join in. Anyone can make things. Along the way, Makers have shown incredible fortitude to overcome obstacles. To make these new products and things, they have had to cobble together their own tools to manufacture and assemble products. More recently, impressive technologies have reached reasonable price points. These tools, mostly based in the physical world like 3D printers, have paved the way for a real revolution within the maker movement. This fact is yet another proof point that the Maker movement has finally arrived. Advancements in these tools, however, have not been made in every phase of making products. While most steps have been made in the manufacture of physical things, little progress has been made with the technologies used to digitally plan and design products. To date, Makers have been faced with an unpalatable compromise: use toy-like tools that lack functionality, or use professional tools that are overly complicated and costly. Within the last year, though, new options have emerged to aid Makers and break this unpalatable compromise. This ebook focuses on the digital tools that Makers use to digitally plan and design products. Initially, it focuses on the two types of tools that, to date, have inadequately addressed Makers' needs. Then, it details specific capabilities of a new class of tools that meet the specific needs of makers. THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 2 The good news is that new technologies are emerging that hit the sweet spot for makers. Soon, Makers will be able to plan and design their ideas just as easily as they can manufacture them.

3 THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 3 THE MAKER S UNPALATABLE DESIGN TECH COMPROMISE At some point in any Maker project, there is a need to capture the form, fit and function of the product concept or idea. This is important for documentation purposes, but it is also critical for a variety of other reasons. It allows the Maker to verify the feasibility of the product. It also enables them to digitally iterate on the design, empowering the exploration of alternatives. Furthermore, it provides a medium through which the Maker can share with others and enable collaboration. In short, they need some kind of digital representation of the product for a variety of reasons. There are digital tools that provide such capabilities. Though, they fall into one of two extremes, there are toy-like technologies that offer affordable, yet inadequate capabilities. Then, there are expensive professional Computer Aided Design (CAD) applications with powerful and complex capabilities. We'll take a closer look at each. TOY-LIKE TECHNOLOGIES On one extreme are the simplistic tools that are almost digital toys. Such tools provide a number of advantageous capabilities, but carry a number of critical shortcomings. First and foremost, these technologies often allow the Maker to sketch out their idea quickly and easily with a simple set of comments. Furthermore, these tools are frequently readily available on smartphones, tablets, as well as more traditional computer platforms. Lastly, these tools tend to be offered at a low price point, making them accessible from a financial perspective. Such technologies, however, have serious detriments. A critical concern is that the digital representation of the product concept is low fidelity. This means that the design can't be accurately defined to extreme dimensional values. These tools also lack fine controls for change; meaning very specific values can't be assigned to dimensions. This also undermines the ability to use such tools to explore varying design alternatives. Ultimately, these tools can give life to a Maker's idea by quickly and easily roughing it out with crude dimensions and detailing potential methods to construct it. But as we all know, Makers need the ability to evolve their designs and their planned dimensions with high precision. Simple sketching technologies can't keep up with the on-the-fly design changes. Make no mistake, these toy-like software tools are easy and fun to learn. However, they don t support complex designs or don t allow for design integration. Overall, these tools fall short of Makers actual needs.

4 THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 4 THE MAKER S UNPALATABLE DESIGN TECH COMPROMISE PROFESSIONAL CAD TOOLS On the other extreme are the Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools traditionally used by professional engineers. There is little doubt that these tools can do the job. These technologies calculate geometry with extremely high precision. They often provide fine control over the design through numerical values as well as drag and drop interactions. Furthermore, they have powerful capabilities to simulate a product's performance and even generate code to drive Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machining machines. Despite this array of capabilities, professional CAD tools pose numerous problems for Makers. A critical problem is that professional CAD tools offer far more functionality than what the Maker usually needs for his or her projects. This means that Makers must either invest days or weeks to learn the software or laboriously hunt and peck for functionality when they need it. Either path represents an extreme time investment to create a relatively simple design. Another issue is the pricing of such technologies. Even the most basic CAD applications are expensive, easily falling into the category that only companies can afford when more modules are added. Also, CAD tools almost always include annual licensing fees, which further increases the cost. Yet another challenge lies in the computer hardware required for CAD software. They often require desktop workstations with large amounts of RAM and powerful processors. This not only represents an additional investment, but also limits the accessibility of such tools to formal office spaces. There is little doubt: professional CAD applications are powerful tools. Yet, they are overly complicated, too expensive and require hardware too specialized for Makers. Overall, these tools also aren't the right fit for Makers actual needs. TAKEAWAYS Makers, just like any professional engineer, need to plan and design their products. Unfortunately, Makers are left to make an unpalatable choice between tools that fall to one of two extremes: overly simple, low-cost toy-like tools, or overly complicated, high cost professional CAD applications. Neither is a good fit for Makers. This is a dichotomy that, until now, has not been broken.

5 THE NEXT GENERATION OF DESIGN TECH FOR MAKERS For years, Makers have had to make an unpalatable compromise. Fortunately, that is no longer necessary. A new category of tool, called Sketch Notebooks, is neither toy-like nor professional CAD application. They very closely fit the needs of today s Maker, both in terms of functionality as well as costs. These tools in particular share a set of six capabilities that set them apart. INTELLIGENT INTERPRETATION It always starts with a sketch. At first, Makers need to quickly capture a design. However, they don t want to throw that work away when they need fine tuned control or a high fidelity representation. They want a smooth progression from one to the other. That s where this capability plays an important role. Sketch Notebooks allows the Maker to rough out the concept or idea for the product or project, which the tool transforms into a more standardized, conforming design. In these tools, the roughly sketched design is automatically re-interpreted into a design capable of being produced. Close-to-vertical drawn lines are made truly vertical. Rough semi-circles are transformed into arcs. The tool intelligently interprets the Maker s inputs. Let s make something clear, though. The control isn t taken out of the Makers hands -- they can always override these interpretations. Lines that were made vertical can be reverted to the original intent. The arc that transformed into a semi-circle can be morphed back into 268. Makers can turn such intelligent interpretations on and off like a switch. HIGH FIDELITY DESIGN DEFINITIONS THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 5 At some point in practically every project, Makers need to have very fine control of designs that are highly accurate. This is important when developing products with multiple parts that must fit tightly together. Sketch Notebooks allows Makers to digitally define designs with incredibly precise geometry, resulting in a more accurate representation. This also means that when the geometry is interrogated, the measurements are highly accurate. Regardless of how the plan or design is examined, it is true to the Maker s intent. This becomes critically important when taking a design to a 3D printer or CNC machine, as the resulting components will exactly match what the Maker defined in the tool.

6 THE NEXT GENERATION OF DESIGN TECH FOR MAKERS ITERATION, EXPLORATION AND REUSE Iteration and exploration are a natural part of any design process. If it is easy for the Maker to change the design, then they can explore more options. If it is hard, they are limited and constrained in terms of how many options they can explore. But reuse of design and concepts is also the key, allowing Makers to develop the next generation ideas. With this challenge in mind, Sketch Notebooks provides a variety of ways to make changes, large and small, to design geometry. There are parametric numerical controls over any dimension such as length, depth, radii, arc length and much more. There are also direct controls, allowing Makers to drag points, lines, arcs and more to desired locations, lengths and more. This combination of control over geometry allows the Maker mold their design to match their intent, as well as discover new design possibilities. Additionally, as one creates a design using parametric control, they can embed intelligence. They can make the value of one dimension dependent on the value of another. As the first changes, the second one does as well. This is a way to capture design intent and have the geometry react intelligently to change. Furthermore, Sketch Notebooks provides the ability to bring existing designs into a new one. This reuse of past concepts and ideas lets Makers avoid the recreation of some aspect of a design. That, in turn, lets them focus on the net new design. THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 6 AVAILABILITY ON MOBILE PLATFORMS Inspiration doesn t know about office hours. The latest and greatest idea can hit you anywhere and anytime, especially for Makers that are infrequently deskbound. As such, they need the ability to capture their ideas on the go. To support this Maker reality, Sketch Notebooks have been architected for mobile platforms, so they run on tablets and smartphones. They support multi-touch and stylus interactions for fine-tuned control. They are ready for today s mobile reality.

7 THE NEXT GENERATION OF DESIGN TECH FOR MAKERS MINIMALIST FUNCTIONALITY, MINIMALIST TRAINING Makers need the ability to start their project quickly. They barely have the time to sign up for a class, much less actually attend it. They need to be productive instantly. Fortunately, Sketch Notebooks requires an amount of training that Makers can afford: none. Quite literally, these tools require no training, mainly due to their streamlined set of intuitive capabilities. These tools, with multi-touch interactions on mobile devices, enable Makers to be up and productive in minutes, not weeks. Yet, the minimalist set of functionality provides all the capability Makers need to create their projects. SHARING AND COLLABORATING WITH OTHERS No one works in a vacuum, of course. Getting feedback on ideas and concepts is a crucial way to verify that you re making something that is valuable. To do that, you have to be able to output designs in formats that can be opened readily by others. You also have to share those deliverables in ways they can be readily accessed. This new generation of tools, Sketch Notebooks, allows Makers to output their designs in a variety of formats including PDF, DXF, SVG and more. That means they can be easily opened. Furthermore, Sketch Notebooks can upload such deliverables to common cloud file sharing services like Dropbox, OneDrive and others. This allows others to easily download the deliverable. In all, it means Makers can share and collaborate far more easily with others. LOW PRICING THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 7 It s no surprise that most Maker projects are run on a shoestring budget. Even if they wanted to purchase expensive software, it is often simply not feasible. The good news is that the cost for Sketch Notebooks is very low, making them financially accessible to practically every maker.

8 THE MAKER S DESIGN COMPROMISE 8 RECAP AND CONCLUSION The Maker movement has arrived. It is a full-fledged mainstream trend. While it has brought numerous innovations to how things are made, the tools Makers are forced to use to design are a terribly poor fit. THE MAKER S UNPALATABLE COMPROMISE When it comes to planning and designing products, Makers have a choice between two unpalatable options. On one hand, there are affordable yet overly simplistic toy-like tools that lack design fidelity, and on the other hand, there are expensive professional CAD applications with overly complicated capabilities. Neither is a good fit for Makers. NEXT GEN DESIGN TECH FOR MAKERS A new category of tool, Sketch Notebooks, is neither toy-like nor professional CAD application. These tools provide capabilities that very closely fit the needs of today s Maker, including: Intelligent Interpretation: Translates roughed-in geometry into incredibly precise geometry. These translations, however, can be overridden. High Fidelity Design Definitions: Calculates design geometry to a high degree of accuracy, enabling precise control and representation of the design. Iteration and Exploration: Enables geometry modification to seek out new design alternatives and options. Availability on Mobile Platforms: Runs on smartphones and tablets. Enabled with multi-touch and stylus. Minimalist Functionality, Minimalist Training: Offers a highly focused set of capabilities resulting in the minimal need for training. Sharing and Collaborating with Others: Delivers a means to share and collaborate on designs with others. Low Pricing: Cost for the tool is very low, making it financially accessible to practically every Maker. FINAL TAKEAWAYS Makers, so far, have been incredibly enabled by the recent technology advancements. The tools that help them plan and design new things, however, have lagged considerably. Fortunately, new technologies like Sketch Notebooks have emerged, hitting the Maker s sweet spot. These tools offer just the right amount of functionality at a price point that Makers can afford. Soon, Makers will be able to plan and design their ideas just as easily as they can manufacture them LC-Insights LLC Chad Jackson is an analyst, researcher and a blogger with Lifecycle Insights, providing insights on technologies that enable engineering, including CAD, CAE, PDM & PLM.

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