Product Design Shorts: Roller Coasters, Caterpillars, and More

Written By: Cat McClintock
  • 7/27/2016
citadel screen capture-trimmed

What’s up in the world of product design? Here are stories from the past month we think you’ll like:

Building Blocks for Engineers

LEGO builds toys that are “primarily about architecture and design,” wrote Nerdist recently. K’nex, on the other hand, “is about engineering.” K’nex started as a system of rods and connectors, but soon grew to add pulley’s and gears so kids could build vehicles, aircraft, and roller coasters.

Perhaps nobody has embraced that thinking more than YouTuber Shadowman. Not long ago, he posted a video of his Citadel—a massive structure that direct balls along different pathways—all made with K’nex pieces. He’s been working on it for 3 years.

So how massive is it? Shadowman writes: This machine features more than 45 new elements, 5 different lifts, and 2 new path separators that separate into 17 paths…There are 3 total motors, one of which powers all 3 floors. You’ll want to watch this:

Augmented reality goes big (even though we’ve known about it forever)

 Now that Pokemon GO has swept the nation, you can finally stop trying to describe what augmented reality (AR) is to your parents. But a recent article from asks the question: Is AR a breakthrough for field service teams? The website’s reporter interviewed PTC’s Mike Campbell who provided an overview of the technology and how PTC’s Vuforia solution was used to make an AR demonstration of the Caterpillar generator. Here’s an excerpt:

Campbell started with pre-existing CAD models and then imported that data into Creo Illustrator to animate it. He then launched the Vuforia Studio application, which looks like a traditional 3D model space.

Vuforia matches the 3D animation to the AR model. A user interface which comes with the AR [software] allows the user to control what he or she sees. To let the AR experience take advantage e of IoT information, Campbell demonstrated how Vuforia Studio can place virtual gauges to display data from the real sensors on the generator. These virtual gauges represent a view into ThingWorx, the software that processes and manages the sensor data and pushes the data out to the AR application.

Caterpillar machinery with augmented reality enabled 

A technician aims his iPad camera at a Caterpillar product. The AR app recognizes the object and adds relevant information to his view. Watch a full demo here..

So, is there potential for AR in service? I think you know the answer!

Recognizing bad design

Are you a good product designer or bad designer? Let’s hope you’re one of the good ones. The People's Design Lab in Europe is calling out bad design – especially when it comes to wasteful packaging.

They’re bringing together a team of professional designers, manufacturers, students, and 'fixperts’ to choose the worst design out there. The organization will also engage with manufacturers wherever possible in constructive redesign discussions and will lobby for policy change to make better designs a reality.

Their ultimate goal is to “create positive change that helps us move toward zero waste and the circular economy faster, for the better use of resources.

K-cups example of bad design, according to judges.

Single-use coffee capsules? An good example of bad design, says People’s. [Image K cups, Frenkleleon via Flickr.]

Recognizing excellent design

Meanwhile, PTC has been recognizing excellence with our Product Design Contest. We’ve devoted several articles to our top entries. But you can see all the winners and honorable mentions on our website here. And look for an eBook featuring the best designs soon.

Machinery design from Creo design contest

Finalist Kun-Lin Chiang was recognized for this Multifunction Reclamation Circulation Power Machine

Gold jewelry rendered in Creo CAD software

Ting Chun made the finals with this sunflower jewelry

Get designing

If you’re looking to design inspirational products, make sure you’re using the product design software that’s best for your needs. Find out what you need to know by taking our 3-day email course. As you begin your research, use this information to walk you through each step of the CAD software buying process.

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About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.