Virtual Products

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In the last few years, virtual products and virtual prototypes have been gaining momentum as valid alternatives to physical prototypes. During the intricate stages of new product development and design, virtual prototypes can offer advantages to designers and clients than physical models cannot. Moreover, as computer technology increases by leaps and bounds, the wall between the look and feel of real prototypes and virtual products decreases incrementally.

In general, almost all new product development and architectural design is done on computers via CAD software or some kind of 3D modeling software. This makes turning in-progress designs into finished virtual products simply a matter of rendering the model. In most cases, rendering a model and producing a finished, photo-realistic computerized image can take as little as a few minutes.

Virtual product designs can also be rendered as movies or interactive virtual environments. By rendering products in this way, designers can give clients a look at the object in motion in a specific setting, or give them an idea of how the moving parts will look during operation. The virtual model can also be animated to show how the object might change during use.

Physical Product Models Vs. Virtual Products

An alternative to creating a virtual product model is rapid prototyping. RP is a method of using a computer-controlled machine to quickly build a three-dimensional model of an object. Rapid prototyping is generally more expensive than virtual models, and computer models submitted as RP designs may take as long as a day of turnaround time before they are available for designers or clients to review.

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