New software to improve design tools

Jan 13, 2009

A team of Carnegie Mellon University engineers led by Levent Burak Kara and Kenji Shimada have developed software that will let engineers design new products by simply sketching their ideas on a tablet computer.

"The idea is to empower engineers and designers with tools that are already familiar to them and are the most natural for the task," said Kara, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

The software, dubbed SketchCAD, is a digital pen-based computer system that can be used to design 3D products for a variety of industry sectors.

Because thinking about a new product shape by sketching is more expressive and more intuitive for engineers than the traditional mouse-and-menu-based design interfaces, the new system gives users more freedom to be creative and a shorter learning curve for use.

By providing greater freedom in conceptual design phases and alleviating costly redesign issues, the new technology will have an immediate impact on a multitude of industries, Carnegie Mellon researchers said.

"Right now, our technology is being adopted by Honda designers for designing new cars in fast and cost-effective ways," said Shimada, the Theodore Ahrens Professor of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

In the future, Carnegie Mellon researchers said the new software system could be used by physicians for planning surgeries or by university professors to teach basic engineering design methods.

Within the same context, the team is also developing another software named SimuSketch that can recognize and simulate engineers' hand-drawn diagrams and mechanical systems. The system enables engineers to quickly implement their ideas in the form of diagrammatic sketches and test their feasibility with real-time simulations.

"These software have the potential to greatly enhance engineering practice by allowing users to design and analyze complex engineered systems by simply sketching their ideas," according to Kara and Shimada.

Industry experts point out that the Carnegie Mellon researchers' new system harkens back to the early 1960s with the birth of computer-aided-design tools that first sported a pen-like device. But their new tool addresses much more challenging issues in engineering design and creativity.

"It is the 21st century equivalent of an enhanced feather quill pen which also experienced many changes, too," Kara said.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

Explore further: Firm combines 3-D printing with ancient foundry method

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scuttling satellites to save space

21 hours ago

It takes a lot of ingenuity – not to mention a massive quantity of sheer force – to get satellites into orbit. Now space engineers are applying comparable ingenuity to the challenge of getting their missions ...

Designer's toolkit for dynamic DNA nanomachines

Mar 26, 2015

The latest DNA nanodevices created at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM)—including a robot with movable arms, a book that opens and closes, a switchable gear, and an actuator—may be intriguing ...

Does your password pass muster?

Mar 25, 2015

"Create a password" is a prompt familiar to anyone who's tried to buy a book from Amazon or register for a Google account. Equally familiar is that red / yellow / green bar that rates the new password's strength. ...

Android Wear with ADM will ring out phone location

Mar 20, 2015

A message for you on Thursday from Andrew Flynn, software engineer, on the official Android blog: Android Device Manager, which was launched in 2013 to help find your Android phone, has a new twist. The Android ...

Recommended for you

Firm combines 3-D printing with ancient foundry method

15 hours ago

A century-old firm that's done custom metal work for some of the nation's most prestigious buildings has combined 3-D printing and an ancient foundry process for a project at the National Archives Building in Washington, ...

Wearable device helps vision-impaired avoid collision

Mar 26, 2015

People who have lost some of their peripheral vision, such as those with retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, or brain injury that causes half visual field loss, often face mobility challenges and increased likelihood ...

Applications of optical fibre for sensors

Mar 26, 2015

Mikel Bravo-Acha's PhD thesis has focused on the applications of optical fibre as a sensor. In the course of his research, conducted at the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre, he monitored a sensor fitted to optical fibre ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.