Today, analogue design tools are a nostalgic rarity. Almost everything made these days was created using digital design software.
And yet realistic texturing and digital visualisation have long been a weak link in the process. Visualising design concepts in a photorealistic way is, even today, a challenging and time-consuming task for industrial designers.
Why use 3D software for product design
Notably, accurate visualisation improves the fidelity of any design features when reproduced at later stages in the production process. All too often, design elements created high up the chain fail to cascade down to digital designers and 3D artists, who frequently have to re-create these elements from scratch. Overall quality, then and adherence to the initial vision of the product design benefit greatly from accurate digital visualisation.
In addition, a 3D-centred workflow can drastically reduce the costs associated with design iteration and prototyping, while allowing these steps to be done more quickly. Using rich materials and high-end 3D rendering, designers can accurately visualise how products will look and see them in context, much earlier in the process — and iterate more freely.
When all stakeholders can review a design project in 3D, it’s possible to avoid many of the costs and delays conventionally associated with creating a succession of prototypes and delivering those prototypes to a range of territories. And when physical prototyping is required, leveraging a combination of virtual photography and 3D printing can bring the virtual and physical worlds almost in sync. As a result, creative iteration loops become easy and fast.
Improved internal communication can act as a driving force during the design process. During critical phases of the process, the lack of simple and powerful tools to express a concept can put the entire project at risk. The more accurately and realistically a design concept can be illustrated, the more easily partners on the project will appropriate the product, whether they are in engineering or marketing or sales.
The speed and cost effectiveness of a 3D-focused workflow extends beyond the design phase. Such a process is ideal for creating ultrarealistic marketing visuals, immediately after the final product design is approved and in parallel with the launch of production tools. It’s no longer necessary to wait for physical prototypes, potentially letting you advance your product’s time to market by weeks or months.
The applications of 3D models are not limited to creating marketing images. Ecommerce platforms increasingly require a large number of visuals — sometimes before a product has even entered the manufacturing stage. Fortunately, a 3D-centred workflow typically results in multiuse assets. The same models used to iterate on product design, for instance, can be used to generate 360-degree views or interactive augmented reality experiences.
The Adobe Substance 3D toolset allows product designers across all disciplines and industries to streamline design workflows and to raise product visualisation to new levels of realism and detail.