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Dan Stanwick, March 1, 2007
Icona (Manchester, UK) has developed aesthetica, a software system
which establishes a common frame of reference around which these two
parties can analyse the manufacturing variation and its effect on the
aesthetic quality of the product, both using their own skills-set, but
in a manner which is understandable and digestible to both.
How does aesthetica work?
It uses a photorealistic 3D model of the product, and then allows
both user groups to assign the manufacturing variance and evaluate the
effects of that on the aesthetics of the product. In an automotive
context, this is referred to as the Gap and Flush between the diverse
panels, sub-assemblies and such, on the exterior and interior of the
The starting point is a digital product model. Icona has done a lot
of work in the last few releases to improve the data translation tools,
so that in addition to the standard IGES and STEP formats, you can now
also import from CATIA V5 using Icon's plug-in for the CATIA V5
environment, and Unigraphics/I-deas/NX using the JT format.
The next step depends on where your responsibilities lie -- in
manufacturing or design.
Once both workflows are complete, the result is a single digital
model based on the nominal design data, which contains a photorealistic
representation of the product, alongside a wealth of information about
how that product and its constituent part will behave. The end result is
a digital representation of a product which—and this is unique—holds
information about how that product and its constituent parts will vary
during the manufacturing and assembly process and where the key points
for measurement and inspection are.