Case Study

Solid modeling – from concept to prototype – wins business

Elephant Design

Solid Edge helps a leading design firm increase its customer base

Different ways of thinking about design

Elephant Design was established in 1989 when four recent graduates of the National Institute of Design in Ahemdabad decided to start their own firm. Each of the four principals perceives design differently, and this is the secret of the firm’s success. It’s also the reason they decided to name the business Elephant Design, being inspired by the story of the four blind men who each perceived the elephant differently.

Elephant is a multidisciplinary design firm that converts ideas into brands. It has grown to become one of the larger design firms in India. The team includes specialists from numerous fields. Brand strategy efforts include services in product design, communication design and environment design. Elephant believes product design is the single most important manifestation of a brand and designs products to elevate its clients’ images. Elephant’s product design process is as follows: user research, ideation, sketching/rendering, digital modeling, engineering detailing, prototyping, user testing and engineering optimization.

3D improves understanding

Originally Elephant used 2D drawing tools for product design, but this process was iterative and time-consuming. The firm did create some 3D digital models for concept presentations, but these could not be used later on for engineering. In an effort to streamline the design process and create geometry that could be used in multiple downstream activities, the firm installed the Solid Edge® CAD system from Siemens PLM Software, purchasing it from the local Siemens reseller, Gnosis Infotech Pvt. Ltd. Mr. Anand said, "Gnosis has helped and supported us in implementing and utilizing the software for our type of requirements.

Solid Edge comes into play early in the product development process, when insights gleaned from research are ready to be turned into design concepts. Concepts are modeled in 3D in Solid Edge and then either imported into 3D Max where rendered images are created, or the Solid Edge models are used directly for the presentations. Either way, the clients gain a clear understanding of the design concepts.

Winning presentations

Elephant uses Solid Edge to generate internal components, then wraps surfaces around them to create parts. “Over the years the quality of solid surfaces generated by Solid Edge has evolved for the better, helping us create better body forms,” says Anand Palsodkar, at Elephant Design. As a design moves into detailing and prototype production, the Solid Edge models allow the design team to foresee any problems. Finding and fixing problems early saves the designers at Elephant Design a lot of quality time, says Anand. Rapid prototypes also save time by accelerating decision making.

Elephant appreciates the ability able to work with a variety of materials in Solid Edge, from plastics to composites to sheet metal. “Solid Edge offers accurate methods and techniques to enable the designer,” says Anand. “We finalize designs faster and in a more accurate manner.”

One of the most important results of using Solid Edge has been the ability to win more business. “We are able to get more customers with these visualization tools as we can showcase more options,” says Anand. “And now we can deliver 3D data to our clients as a final design output.” Elephant has recently purchased NX Shape Studio for high-end applications and intricate shapes. This, too, will allow the firm to provide more options and better service to its customers.

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