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: LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nail stem cells prove more versatile than press ons

29 minutes ago

There are plenty of body parts that don't grow back when you lose them. Nails are an exception, and a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals some of the r ...

Swift gamma-ray burst mission marks ten years of discovery

40 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Swift spacecraft lifted off aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., beginning its mission to study gamma-ray bursts and identify their origins. Gamma-ray ...

Cameras detect 'extinct' wallabies near Broome

8 minutes ago

Yawuru Country Managers have found a spectacled hare wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) population, a species which for the last decade was feared to be locally extinct at Roebuck Plains, adjacent to Broome.

Recommended for you

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

Nov 21, 2014

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Novel robotic walker helps patients regain natural gait

Nov 21, 2014

Survivors of stroke or other neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson's disease often struggle with mobility. To regain their motor functions, these patients ...

Tomorrow's degradable electronics

Nov 20, 2014

When the FM frequencies are removed in Norway in 2017, all old-fashioned radios will become obsolete, leaving the biggest collection of redundant electronics ever seen – a mountain of waste weighing something ...

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.