Yenra : Home : Michael Graves Products : Design Group standardizes on think3 technology to speed, improve design-to-shelf product development


Since founding his practice in 1964 in Princeton, New Jersey, Michael Graves has been a leader in architectural design. His body of work in the U.S. alone includes the Humana Building, projects for Disney, the Denver Central Library, and the NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions. These buildings, along with many other significant projects all over the world such as the Headquarters for the Ministry of Health and Sport in The Hague, The Netherlands, have directly influenced the transformation of urban architecture from abstract modernism toward more contextual and traditional themes. Graves is also well known for his design of furniture, furnishings, and artifacts.

Michael Graves Design Group has made think3 its standardized technology partner to support its 35-person product design division. Graves' product design group has created more than 1,500 products over the past two decades for companies such as Target, Alessi, Dansk and Delta Faucet.

"Over the past five years, we have seen the product design cycle from sketch to shelf shrink from approximately 18 months to an average of nine, as our retail partners respond to increased consumer demand for well-designed products," said Kyle Ryan, product manager at MGDG. "Being able to find ways to speed the design-to-production schedule while maintaining design intent and high quality is critical which is why we have partnered with think3," said Ryan.

One of the biggest frustrations during modification for most design firms is moving designs back and forth from 3D to 2D using different tools. "We were literally rebuilding the 3D model from scratch each time a change was made in 2D. Any time you do that, you impact design intent, accuracy and speed." Ryan said it was these types of challenges with their existing tools that drove the need for change.

MGDG now uses thinkdesign as well as many of think3's services and technologies to design products from 2D sketches to finished parts, commonly referred to in industrial design as "art to part." With think3, the key ability is to work in one integrated environment from the initial design through manufacturing," said Ryan. "This allows our designers to make unlimited design modifications in 3D, and simultaneously capture and update the 2D data so that everyone is working from the same page." This equates to a significant savings in time and productivity. Plus, think3 has the ability to track historical changes, making it easier for designers to make changes anytime during the design process.

"We now have the ability to make our designs both flexible and fixed at the same time," said Ryan. "Flexible in that think3's GSM Zone-Modeling technology and history tree allow us to make endless design iterations fast and with real-time updates; and fixed, in that specifications needed for engineering and manufacturing are captured early in the process."

think3's "Zone Modeling" allows designers to make creative, precise and detailed modifications as a solid feature to any shape, native or imported. Designers can create localized "freeform" modifications while inside a history-based, solid model. In addition, users can create parametric "styled" fillets with full control over the resulting shape for highly aesthetic and precise transitions. Smart Objects, a library of adaptable parts, allow users to capture, reuse and share all or part of a design and can be extended into company-customized libraries.

In addition, think3's foremost technology advantage, Global Shape Modeling (GSM) provides industrial designers with proven design freedom and dynamic, real-time control. GSM's unique approach to modifications significantly increases designer creativity and productivity, saving companies as much as 75% in overall development costs.

Anytime designers switch technology, the importance of training and ramp-time becomes top-of-mind. There is a constant trade-off between design time and training time. think3's ease-of-use, training and customer care capabilities, including MyTraining and e-seminars, are key reasons why MGDG's entire product design division now uses think3.

"The interactive e-seminars that think3 customized for us was like having an actual instructor in the room with us," said Ryan. He went on to say that the customer care has been exceptional. "We're on a first-name basis with these folks and they are 100 percent reliable, which is so critical when you're in the middle of a project and you need technical assistance now." think3 offers 24/7 customer care and unlimited online training as a standard part of its offering.

According to Ryan, the bottom line for MGDG in selecting think3 is that the company offers services and technology geared toward helping designers do their best work. "think3 gets it. Designers want to create beautiful products and the technology should enable us to do that better, faster, and easier. So many tools available today force the designer to conform to established rules and not the other way around. think3 listens to our suggestions and is constantly developing new technology that better fits the juggling act that characterizes product design."

MGDG has designed more than 1,500 consumer products including architectural products such as lighting, hardware, and bath fixtures, and a wide variety of consumer products.