Lots of communication from engineering to the rest of the world has a “look but don’t touch” feel. You know the deal: You send colleagues a “safe” file of the mega project model, say a PDF or printout, or you slap it up on a screen and you solicit comments. Or your PLM (product lifecycle management) system may allow a coworker to look at a file and maybe do some measurements and add a comment with a juiced-up special-purpose application.
Still, how productive are these processes? And what about the hordes of collaborators you work with like manufacturing, purchasing, design teams responsible for parts of the entire design and, um, clients? They often have to cool their jets waiting their turn to get at and understand your data, when they could be working with it instead if you had timely and thorough communications.
Communication and collaboration doesn’t have to be cumbersome or slow. Today’s Pick of the Week looks at what sounds like an elegant communications and collaboration methodology. It’s easy to grasp in concept but seems beyond compute in potential.
Theorem Solutions has officially introduced Publish 3D for intelligent document and information exchange. They’ve dropped hints about this server-based, enterprise-wide solution the past couple of months with their introductions of their 3D PDF Publisher line of plug-ins for CATIA V5, NX, PTC Creo MCAD environments and JT-enabled systems. Publish 3D starts with 3D PDF Publisher, so that’s where we’ll start.
3D PDF Publisher lets you save a file as an interactive 3D PDF document from within your native CAD environment. You can expand the utility of your document with attachments like spreadsheets, Word documents and bills of materials (BOMs). You can also have media like movies, live links to external data and annotations galore. Essentially, it makes a dynamic document out of a design file that communicates design intent and key associated data.
People receiving your 3D PDF use Adobe Acrobat Reader to check it out. They can pan models, step through assemblies, turn components on and off, add notes and cross section components. 3D PDF Publisher does more, but you get the idea. It’s a giant leap from a static PDF or print out. 3D PDF Publisher also scales from one user to everybody in your design team if you want, and that is where Publish 3D comes into the story.
Publish 3D is big-time scaling, although a solo designer can use it. It brings two things to your organization. First, it takes the features of 3D PDF Publisher and makes them available for high-volume operations. Two, it provides a high-degree of automation so that you can batch process loads of dynamic 3D PDF documents and distribute them to stakeholders inside or outside your organization using your preferred method — email, ftp or a cloud-based collaboration system.
OK, a third thing: What’s really neat is that Publish 3D can leverage your resources. That means it enables you to create custom 3D PDF documents for multiple recipients. You can, say, set up a process that takes your model from engineering then sends an interactive rendering of it to marketing or to the client. Customer service can get an exploded view, or you can have hidden lines removed for the technical documents crowd.
Publish 3D also is reported to fully integrate with your engineering and business processes such as PLM, PDM (product data management), and MRP (manufacturing resource planning). That means that it can pull in data files from those systems to create an interactive 3D PDF that reflects the full dossier of a project. And, yes, Publish 3D has technology to validate data and protect your intellectual property.
In the end, Publish 3D means that you can set up repeatable and consistent processes to communicate engineering data to the enterprise and from the enterprise to engineering in a timely fashion. Ultimately that could do more than just streamline your interdepartmental and supply chain communications. It could reduce errors, accelerate decision-making processes and speed up your organization’s overall productivity. Hit the link and take a look at Publish 3D. You can download an example of the kind of files it creates while there.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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