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Archive for November 21st, 2012

Gamification in CAD

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

When most people think of gamification in CAD, they think of slick new GUIs or maybe human interface devices beyond the mouse and keyboard.  Or, they think of using building blocks for design similar to how a Minecraft player may create the Starship Enterprise.  But, there are many aspects of gamification beyond playability of your work environment.  In this post, I will expand on the benefits of adding physics engines to MCAD assembly environments and explain how that enhancement can improve design especially when combined with Kinetic Modeling.

The Status Quo

The current workflow of gaming engines is to create geometry (either in CAD or DCC software like Autodesk Maya) and then transfer the geometry into a physics engine, like CryEngine.  I pose the question, why can’t the physics engine be incorporated directly into the geometry creation software?  Specifically, the assembly environment of MCAD tools?  With the known benefits of moving simulation further to the left in the design cycle, integrating more simulation tools into the design software without the complexity of FEA is a winning scenario for engineering & design companies.  As I mentioned in my previous post, there are many CAD users who don’t require FEA.  Rigid body mechanics is accurate enough for their decision-making process.  No geometry prep, no meshing, no time-consuming compute analysis, and no post processing.  And just as important, no special computer equipment to manage and no additional file management.

The Lingering Debate

This conversation is not new.  As I was browsing the archives of, because I knew he had a great video of a physics engine I wanted to use in this post, I came across a few other posts regarding using physics engines in the design process.

vimeo Direktw=400 h=300
After watching that video, don’t you just want to tear your eyelids?

If that video doesn’t help, check out what the Tokamak open source physics engine can do.

YouTube Direkt


Just from the video examples above, I can see a huge potential of time savings in my design workflow by gamifying CAD.  I don’t realistically expect to imitate a first-person shooter game and launch projectiles at my assembly design, but I do see how adding gravity and friction as resolved degrees of freedom in my assembly model will make it more realistic.  And maybe, just maybe, if I’m having a bad day at the office I can blow off a little steam by pummeling my model with simulated nukes.

What are your thoughts?  Is there a benefit to bringing this technology into the engineering and design environment?  Is the term “gamification” the part that prevents acceptance of these ideas into the workplace?

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