No matter how hard you try to get the design right on the first try in your CAD software, isn't there always something that you only notice as soon as the object jumps from your 2D screen to your 3D space?
This used to happen to me all the time. I thought I had thought of everything...only to have to head right back to the drawing board after seeing the prototype.
This still happens to me all the time, only now I can catch these mistakes in a few seconds and fix them without wasting any time or money on making a physical prototype. With augmented reality (AR), I've been able to find completely new meaning in the phrase "rapid prototyping".
Many people use 3D-printing to create these "looks like" prototypes. There is certainly something to be said for holding it in your hands. Then what? The trash? At least there are a few cool companies like re:3D who can chop up your FDM prototypes and re-extrude the plastic.
But what if you didn't need to make anything at all? Today there are about 4 billion mobile devices on the planet that natively support augmented reality. If you are reading this and you have bought a smartphone or tablet in the last decade - that means you!
Enter the massless prototype. While AR can't solve all of your prototyping needs, it is a crucial tool for every designer & engineer to have access to. Here are just a few of the ways that you can use AR to accelerate your design workflow, lower your costs, and reduce your carbon footprint - all at the same time.
Iterate at lightspeed.
3D printing is a whole lot faster than carving wax models by hand. But AR is instantaneous. In a matter of seconds, you can load your 3D model straight onto your desk. You can see how it holds space, how it relates to other physical objects, how it will look when you do decide to make it real.
Prototype on the go.
Most of my really good ideas happen as soon as I walk away from work. It's important to give your brain a break, but I'm not very good at it. Maybe I'm a workaholic, but it is pretty handy to be able to iterate and ideate while I am on the road. You never know when or where the creative spark might strike.
Get rapid feedback from your collaborators.
In person or fully remote, AR gives your team the opportunity to instantly get feedback on your massless prototype. No lost packages. No more wasted effort to make something that your manager immediately rejects. Maybe you could do your design reviews outside, at the beach, with margaritas? Because AR is ubiquitous on all modern smartphones and works inside the native browsers - even the oldsters will be able to figure it out.
No need to learn computer graphics.
CAD for engineering is a very different skillset than 3D modeling for animation and rendering. You don't need to learn anything new, and you don't need to buy anything new. Instead of uploading your .STL file to your 3D printer, why not upload it to polySpectra AR for a free massless prototype in just a matter of seconds? You can change the color, roughness, and metallic quality of the material to quickly get a sense of what it will look like in real life. (Click the palette icon below to instantly change the color of the Wevolver logo.)
Ready to try out your first massless prototype?
- It is free and you don't need to download anything or sign up
- On desktops and laptops, a QR code will appear to help you instantly "hand off" your 3D preview to your phone or tablet. Open this link in your device's native browser for best results (Safari or Chrome).
- If your smartphone or tablet is AR compatible, you will see a "View in Your Space" button. Click that to load the model in augmented reality. You'll first need to anchor the device onto a flat surface to place it in your environment.
- Try clicking the palette icon to change the color and optical properties of the material.
- Use the rotate button to change the orientation of the part. The AR experience is anchored to first finding a horizontal or vertical flat surface.
- When you get tired of playing with the Wevolver logo, you can upload your own .STL file, either from your PC or your mobile device.
- Use the paper airplane icon in the top right to share the current design with your friends and colleagues.
- Use the ? button to give us feedback via GitHub.
- Extra credit - when (and only when) you are truly ready to manufacture the most rugged possible version of your part with advanced additive manufacturing, click the "Get a 3D Print Quote" button for an instant quote of your parts in COR Alpha or COR Black.