Tue, Nov

Give us a twirl

Give us a twirl

Should you be turning to 3D modelling? The ability to turn flat design graphics into moveable 3D representations of finished jobs will give you the edge. So is it a fasion set to take off?

Cut design time and costs and put another value-add offering onto your services list with 3D modelling. It's not as difficult as you might think. Due to recent developments you can now take advantage of software design solutions that until a short time ago where only really relevant to other parts of the print sector. Take CAD software. What was mostly used for packaging applications is now becoming relevant to wide-format printers looking to develop a structural design and 3D prototyping part of the business.


Given the explosive growth in point-of-purchase (POP) advertising, add in 3D structured print and you're on to a winner. Those of you with in-house designers can easily get up to speed with 3D modelling design software and ultimately work more effectively to bring in new business.Plus, getting more involved in the creative process means you strengthen your position in the marketing supply chain.

To give you a taste of how developments are impacting on 3D imaging within wide-format print lets look at EskoArtwork (www.esko.com) who's ArtiosCad software, traditionally used in packaging, can easily be used for structural design purposes within your operation. "ArtiosCad is the ideal tool for POP displays," says Kris Van Bael, product manager 3D and visualisation at EskoArtwork. "Complete 3D integration allows for quick prototyping of designs and presentations, eliminating communication errors and reducing design review cycles. Most importantly it is a way for wide-format printers to expand their business in other directions. It allows them to become a highly valued partner by offering a premium service that traditionally would have required highly specialised knowledge. "The latest version of this popular structural design software focuses on much easier administration of projects, along with new design features for curved creases and 'mating' - folding parts and multi-component designs," he explains. "These features bring productivity increases throughout the entire supply chain, a significant reason why nearly 70% of all structural packaging worldwide is designed with ArtiosCad."

A number of significant features have been added to enhance the 3D design and viewing experience within ArtiosCad. For example, Curved Creases, a patent pending technology, makes it easy for designers within wide-format print businesses to work with curved folds by allowing them to visualise designs with curved creases on screen as part of its 3D module.

A new Mate tool, also available in ArtiosCad as part of the 3D module, allows for the simple assembly and visualisation of connected folds and parts. Users can identify glue areas and corresponding targets to quickly connect designs or perform simple assembly of displays. It also creates easily 3D animated AVI or QuickTime movies, file formats compatible with most computer systems. The software also includes a bend tool for visualising bends in 3D. Bend lines can be specified in 2D, and then visualised in 3D using various angles and radii. By supporting all these new visualisation features in 3D, ArtiosCad users can use the actual 2D design files to make 3D presentations to clients - a valuable customer relationship tool.

The ability for end customers to see conceptual designs at an early stage can also save hours of design time within other 3D applications, re-creating additional 3D models or mock-ups just for presentation purposes. The newest feature of ArtiosCad adds to the ease of use by including resizeable display samples. These can provide a jump-start in display structural designs or function as a source of inspiration. The new designs include headers, bases, trays, easels and fillers all with the ability to be resized.

"ArtiosCad is easy to use and allows wide-format printers a high level of integration with artwork design while raising productivity. In addition, ArtiosCad makes best use of the capability of the Kongsberg cutting tables, includes a good set of standards for displays and offers best-in-class contour nesting ensuring a minimum of material waste," says Van Bael. Design can be taken care of within ArtiosCad if you so wish; the structure is then brought into Adobe Illustrator where the artwork is prepared, using the EskoArtwork Studio software. Studio, a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator, offers a 3D viewing environment while working on the artwork. Clever tools help you to make artwork run seamless over glued edges or to rotate your artwork canvas if you need to work on a panel with an odd orientation. With Studio it is really easy to adapt the branding to the available structure.

Thanks to a strong integration between ArtiosCad, Studio and Adobe Illustrator, it's very easy to customise the structure from within the artwork application - perfect for creating cutout windows or contoured cuts that have to follow artwork features. "To create 3D visuals, EskoArtwork has different solutions, depending on your own comfort zone," says Van Bael. "If you are more comfortable with CAD, ArtiosCad has rich 3D capabilities to assemble and animate the display. The artwork is shown sharper than ever, thanks to an improved PDF importer. Results can also be shared with your customer as 3D PDF file using Visualizer. Or alternatively, you can also create 3D PDFs right from Adobe Illustrator with Studio."

The Visualizer application allows users to combine graphics, print information and structure to generate highly realistic, moving visuals of a design. It can be used on Mac or PC to quickly create convincing, on-screen mock-ups which can be viewed as a flat sheet, a die-cut sheet, or folded, in a range of real-world lighting environments. Visualizer works by combining artwork from a PDF (or a variety of other formats) with structural design information from ArtiosCad or one of the Studio Toolkits, providing an easy way to evaluate and communicate the impact of substrates, inks and special finishes a lot cheaper and faster than with a physical mock-up. "Visualizer is all about communication. You can send a Visualizer file to your client. He can download Visualizer and use it as a free viewer and look at it in exactly the same way as you do. Or you can make a snap-shot image, or - even better - a QuickTime movie," concludes Van Bael. "It means designers can easily explore various creative options without the need for time-consuming mock-ups while at the same time reducing errors, misunderstandings and wastage and shortening time-to-market."

The latest software developments by ArtiosCad include a whole set of options especially relevant to the wide-format sector. Studio for example has currently many improvements on the pipeline suited for wide-format applications such as multi-part support and double-sided graphics. Visualizer has been improved to realistically preview opaque white and varnish effects. For transparent materials and window stickers it can even show how the sign will look from the back. Worth diversifying into 3D prototyping?

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