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Features that ThinkDesign had

kevin_quigleykevin_quigley Member Posts: 306 ✭✭✭
14 years ago (yikes) I started using Think Design. To those who are too young or don't know, Think Design was a rebranded version of an Italian CAD system that was already widely used in Italy and France in the toolmaking and moulded product sector. Alessi (the famous Italian designer homeware company used it). Anyway, Think3 rebranded and launched ThinkDesign with great fanfare led by a guy called Joe Costello.

They moved the marketing to the USA from Italy, and set up as the new design platform based on the fact that they had their own modelling kernel and a lot (a lot!) of expertise in advanced surfacing. They also changed the whole sales and support paradigm as the software was rental only (well you could buy it but it was pointless to) and all support was done via WebEx with one to one training all included in the annual subscription price (which from memory was around £1800 a year).

The sales killer feature in Think Design was a thing called Global Shape Modelling. GSM was one of those features that looked great in demos but in reality was hard to get to work. But it did have some party tricks, like forcing an existing part to be redrafted to a new parting line (which did work well) so you could freely design your organic form, then draw a sketch onto the surface as nice simple lines arcs or simple curves and say "that is the split line, no draft it 2 degrees" BAM it would do it (and you could actually tell it to do that as ThinkDesign had voice activated modelling- really).

I've yet to see anything mainstream that does this. I'm sure CATIA or NX probably have a module you can buy for $20k a year that does this but I've seen nothing like it from the mid range boys.

But Think Design had other lesser known goodies that again, I have not seen since. Such as:

1. Localised shelling - say you modelled a protrusion from a part and you want to shell out just that bit. Easy - just select the feature and/or faces in the area and apply a shell. (At this point someone tell me you can do this with SolidWorks and make me look stupid - please).

2. Surface trimming - in SolidWorks to trim or extrude up to a surface you need to create the surface then knit it into one. In Think Design you just selected the faces to use.

3. Capping surface - this was like a souped up version of fill surface in SolidWorks. In SolidWorks you have very little control over the shape of the fill. In ThinkDesign you could create surface points or curves to manipulate. you could pull off weighting from the edges etc. You do get similar controls in Rhino and Boundary surface in SW but not for filling a 3 or 5 sided patch.

4. Fillet control - that classic fillet case of the blend fading out where you either got the "smile" or the ""frown" fillet (I'm sure Mark knows what I mean). In Think Design you could choose multiple options for the fillet as a preview. I've seen something similar to this in Powershape and SolidThinking (also Italian).

That is a few I can remember. I used Think Design for 3 years at £1800 a year, then after it restructured again I was called by the sales director in France to tell me the new price was 5500 Euros a year. Bye Bye Think Design. I think they are still around, in one form or another. They had a lot of potential but just didn't get the QA right and the pace of development was dire - I think in 3 years we had 1 upgrade, and that was only to a  beta version because I moaned about it. Still..14 years on and I thought by now I would be thinking what shape I wanted and there would be a commend that just did it (the "indent there with a sharp edge on one side and fade out to G2 continuity on the other" command). Not to be.

lessons for Onshape? Get the geometry right and give us features that no-one else has that have genuine practical uses for many....not those daft features that demo jockeys love to show but never get used.


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    steve_van_beirssteve_van_beirs Member Posts: 1
    Hi Kevin, I share your thoughts on your post. I used ThinkDesign as well and regret this product did not evolve. 
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    pete_yodispete_yodis OS Professional, Mentor Posts: 666 ✭✭✭
    @kevin_quigleyAmen on the parting line tools.  I'm not able to do casting design or plastic part design at the moment until a parting tool is available AND more advanced draft tools.  I have requests in for them.  I know they are working on them.  GSM sounded pretty powerful for that.
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    andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭✭
    A very thought-provoking and informative post. Thanks a lot, @kevin_quigley

    Even the basic processes of creating watertight bodies from NURBS based surfaces are very laborious and fussy in the likes of Solidworks, and huge gains in productivity are there for the reaping, by whoever first rethinks the workflows from the ground up and institutes some seriously clever routines for mutual trim, healing edge mismatches in robust ways, simplification of problematic topologies, meaningful flagging of problematic regions, and seamless knitting of the results.

     (not, I hasten to clarify, "smart" this and "smart" that, which, as you aptly point out, tend to play to demo jockeys and the non-technical cheque-signing execs who are impressed by them)
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