The myth of the ‘full’ 3D model

I am working on a project at the moment where I was supplied with what I was told was the full 3D model, and all I had to do was make a few changes and finish it off.

I imported the file and started to go through it, quickly coming to the realization that there was still a lot of work to be done. While it looked like the model was correct, the design could never had been built. After a few days of manipulating the imported geometry to try to do what it needed to do, I took a step back and re-drew everything from scratch. Immediately the enjoyment I got from designing returned, and I no longer felt like I was wading through wet cement. Luckily the client is a practical and understanding person, and he was able to see that this was a necessary step. When I went through the initial model with him (over Skype screenshare, thanks to lockdown) he understood immediately that the model that I had been given was more of a concept than something that could be translated into fabrication drawings.

A few years ago I was not so lucky. The ‘full’ model that I had been given was at the concept stage, and the project that I was working on had no time or budget allocation for further design. The person who made this decision was on the admin side, not in production or design. In that situation I found it just about impossible to prove to him that I needed a design budget. I would spend hours re-designing a certain item and when I was done, my design looked almost like the concept design anyway! Of course the difference was that what I designed could actually be fabricated in the factory, whereas what I had initially been given could only exist on my screen. Unfortunately the bean counters could not understand that, and would not agree to the necessary further design work needed.

There is no doubt that the full model does and can exist, but in my experience on the two jobs above, as well as on a good few others, this has not been the case for me. I think having the correct software plays a crucial part in this, as well as enough practical knowledge to use the modeling process to create a digital prototype. In my opinion there are exceptions. Certain small details are easier and quicker to work out on the factory floor, as opposed to the hours that it would take me to work them out on my computer.

The concept of the digital twin in boat design is something that I have seen coming up more and more, especially as different companies are often involved in the design of one boat. One for structure, one for spooling and so forth. The need to share 3d data in the correct format is becoming unavoidable, and can be a problem if the software packages been used are not capable of doing that.

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