We’ve just begun an exciting partnership with Autodesk, the world leader in 3D design software, to help take their latest CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) software called Autodesk Fusion 360 to a new level. Simultaneously, they’re working with us on a new project that I can’t wait to share in the next coming months.
First I need to mention that most shoe companies don’t use 3D design software. Shoe designers typically design a shoe pattern in two dimensional drawings and leave the more sophisticated 3D modeling, engineering, and manufacturing to folks overseas. Can you imagine?!
When I was a department chair at the university, I must have been the only physician with 3D design software installed on my computer. First I learned a CAD program called Solid Works, which is what my engineering colleagues were using. That was good for designing a lot of engineery things we used in the laboratory but I soon realized I needed something more to model the complex organic footwear components I envisioned. Eventually, I mastered a CAD program called “Rhino 3D,” which is what my university architect friends swear is the best thing since sliced bread. It really does allow one to design beautiful organic yet scientifically based creations like, um, our basic OESH shoe form, illustrated above.
For the last few years we’ve been using a number of CAD/CAM programs including Rhino 3D, each helping us with a specific design or manufacturing task. For example, one program allows for designing REALLY organic shapes while another program allows us to write our own code. On the CAM side of things, we’ve been using a software package called “Visual Mill” to operate our CNC (computer numerical code) milling machine and another CAM program that is specific to cutting with our waterjet saw.
And now we’ve brought in our new CAD/CAM friend, Fusion 360, along with its brilliant development team, who look to be as visionary about 3D design and manufacturing as we are about shoes.