I had the chance on Saturday night to have a chat with a young architect (finished undergrad and working and teaching, but yet to do postgrad).
Architects have always thought in 3-dimensions, but the limitations of communicating in paper has been that designs are always rendered as two-dimensional "elevations" and plans. The earliest applications of computers to the task with CAD were about rendering these two-dimensional plans.
The next stage was the development of 3D modelling, but still with the "goal" of passing on a 2D image for the next stage.
These days that happens less. A builder or a fabricator might well just get the 3D image and that is then used to create the relevant component. The analogy was car manufacturing - the body shop just gets a 3D image file to fabricate the body parts.
The concept of direct connection between 3D design and fabrication is growing rapidly. The Economist recently had a feature on 3D printing. This has been around for about ten years for prototyping but is starting to be used for actual manufacture.
If you combine these techniques with the production processes of "just in time" the world of "mass customisation" has come another step closer.
This is the kind of thing that becomes important in Digital Economy discussions. It is not just about productivity improvements from doing the same things faster, but by doing things differently.
"The industrial revolution made the blacksmith redundant, the information revolution makes the draftsman redundant" Discuss.
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