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Open Access 2024 | OriginalPaper | Buchkapitel

3. Visualization of Engineering Products

verfasst von : Vitalii Ivanov, Ivan Pavlenko, Artem Evtuhov, Justyna Trojanowska

Erschienen in: Augmented Reality for Engineering Graphics

Verlag: Springer Nature Switzerland

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Abstract

Visualization of engineering products plays a crucial role in the design and development process. It allows engineers and designers to effectively communicate ideas, evaluate designs, identify potential issues, and make informed decisions before the physical production phase begins.

3.1 Role of Visualization of Engineering Products

Visualization of engineering products plays a crucial role in the design and development process. It allows engineers and designers to effectively communicate ideas, evaluate designs, identify potential issues, and make informed decisions before the physical production phase begins.
In recent years, technological advancements have brought about new and exciting ways to visualize engineering products through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) applications. As mentioned in previous chapters, it is crucial that in the course of engineering education, future engineers become familiar with these technologies and the possibility of their integration into professional work. However, in engineering education, the student should also become familiar with more traditional visualization methods, which are still an essential part of the product design and production process. This chapter will describe different visualization methods, starting from traditional methods through simulation methods to AR/VR/MR.

3.2 Traditional Methods of Visualization of Engineering Products

Despite the advancements in virtual reality, augmented reality, and simulation tools, sketching, 2D drawings, and CAD remain prevalent and vital in engineering product development. They provide the groundwork for effective communication, collaboration, and documentation throughout the product lifecycle.
Sketching is a fundamental visualization technique engineers and designers use to convey their ideas on paper or digital tools quickly. It allows for rapid exploration of concepts, roughing out designs, and visualizing basic shapes and forms.
Detailed 2D drawings provide precise geometric information about the product. These drawings typically include orthographic projections, isometric views, and sections that showcase dimensions, tolerances, and annotations. They are commonly used for manufacturing, assembly, and documentation purposes.
CAD software enables engineers to create digital models of their designs in three dimensions. CAD models are highly accurate and can be easily manipulated, modified, and analyzed. They allow for comprehensive product visualization from different angles, including exploded views, cross-sections, and animations.

3.3 Simulations in the Visualization of Engineering Products

By employing computational models, engineers and designers can simulate the performance of engineering products under various operating conditions. Simulation of designed products and complex systems provides additional information to engineers, enabling adjustments to be made at the design stage. Simulation methods are a broad topic, which includes, among others, the following ones.
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a numerical simulation technique used to analyze the structural behavior of products under various loading conditions. It visualizes stress, strain, deformation, and other critical factors by representing them as color-coded maps or contour plots. FEA allows engineers to optimize designs, identify weak points, and ensure the product’s reliability [1].
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations are employed to analyze fluid flow and heat transfer in engineering products. Visualization techniques, such as streamlines, velocity vectors, and temperature contours, help engineers understand the behavior of fluids within the product, optimize thermal management, and improve performance [2].
Motion Simulation software enables engineers to analyze the kinematics and dynamics of moving parts within a product. By visualizing the motion of mechanisms, engineers can identify interference, collision, or any undesired behavior. Animations and graphs help assess factors like velocities, accelerations, forces, and torques [3].

3.4 Augmented Reality

AR allows engineers to project virtual models, schematics, and data onto physical objects, providing real-time visual feedback and aiding in design, assembly, and maintenance processes. AR solutions can be based on smartphones, tablets [4], or smart glasses so that users can see real worlds enhanced (augmented) by virtual content. It allows users to perform activities (interactions) in the real world and to manage virtual content [5]:
  • Design Review and Evaluation [6]: AR allows engineers to visualize and assess product designs in real-world contexts. By superimposing digital 3D models onto physical objects or environments, engineers can evaluate the product’s form, fit, and function early.
  • Assembly and Maintenance Guidance [7]: AR can provide step-by-step instructions and guidance during assembly, maintenance, or repair processes. By overlaying visual cues, animations, and text onto physical objects, AR enables workers to follow precise instructions and locate components accurately. It reduces errors, improves efficiency, and enhances training processes by providing real-time visual aids.
  • Contextual Visualization [8]: AR provides a unique advantage by allowing engineers to visualize products in their intended environments [6] or specific working conditions. Mechanical engineers can simulate the behavior of a machine in an industrial setting, considering factors like space constraints or safety considerations.
  • Marketing and Sales Presentations. AR enables immersive and interactive marketing and sales experiences for engineering products. Companies can use AR applications to showcase products to potential customers, allowing them to visualize the product in their environment.
  • Visualization of Hidden Components [9]: AR can reveal internal components or structures not directly visible in physical prototypes. Engineers can inspect internal features, such as wiring, piping, or complex assemblies, by overlaying virtual cross-sections or cutaways onto physical objects. This visualization aids in detecting design flaws, optimizing internal layouts, and facilitating maintenance or troubleshooting activities.
  • Training and Simulation: AR can be used for training operators or simulating complex scenarios. By overlaying virtual information onto physical training objects, such as control panels or machinery, AR provides a hands-on learning experience. Operators can practice their skills, learn procedures, and gain confidence in operating equipment without the risks associated with real-world operations. AR simulations can mimic realistic conditions, such as emergencies or abnormal operating conditions, improving operator preparedness and safety.

3.5 Virtual Reality

VR enables users to interact with 3D models of products, exploring their functionality, ergonomics, and aesthetics. In recent years, engineering applications of VR have been widely described in the literature. The most frequently mentioned VR applications in this context are:
  • Immersive Design Reviews [10]: VR enables engineers to immerse themselves in a virtual representation of the product. They can explore and interact with the digital model at a scale that provides a realistic sense of size and proportion. The immersive experience enables details examination, and moving around the virtual prototype improves the evaluation of design aesthetics, ergonomics, and spatial relationships.
  • Interactive Assembly and Disassembly [11]: VR can assist in assembly and disassembly processes by providing step-by-step guidance and visual aids. Engineers can visualize and practice assembling complex components using virtual representations, ensuring proper fit and alignment.
  • Training and Simulation [12]: VR offers a safe and controlled environment for training operators and simulating complex scenarios. Engineers can create virtual simulations to train operators on equipment operation, maintenance procedures, or emergencies. Users can practice their skills, interact with virtual equipment, and gain confidence in a realistic but risk-free environment.
  • Ergonomics and Human Factors Analysis [13]: VR is valuable for evaluating engineering products’ ergonomics and human factors. Engineers can simulate human interactions with virtual prototypes to assess reachability, visibility, and accessibility. By virtually placing users in different scenarios, VR can help identify potential issues and optimize the design for enhanced usability and user experience.
  • Marketing and Sales Presentations [14]: VR provides a compelling medium for marketing and sales presentations of engineering products. Companies can create virtual showrooms or experiences that allow potential customers to explore and interact with virtual prototypes.

3.6 Mixed Reality

MR is particularly useful for tasks that require spatial understanding and manipulation of complex engineering products. MR headsets equipped with spatial mapping and hand-tracking capabilities can allow engineers to place, manipulate, and simulate the behavior of virtual components within a real-world context. Applications of MR in engineering visualization include:
  • Real-Time Data Overlay [15]: MR allows engineers to overlay real-time data onto digital models, providing valuable insights during design and analysis. For example, sensors or monitoring systems can capture live data such as temperature, pressure, or stress, which can then be visualized and superimposed onto the corresponding areas of the virtual model. This real-time data overlay enhances the understanding of product performance, facilitates data-driven decision-making, and supports predictive maintenance and optimization efforts.
  • Interactive Design Reviews [15]: MR facilitates collaborative design reviews by enabling multiple stakeholders to visualize and interact with digital models simultaneously. Engineers, clients, and other stakeholders can wear MR headsets and view the exact virtual representation, allowing for real-time discussions, annotations, and design modifications. This interactive design review process fosters better communication, consensus building, and accelerated decision-making, ultimately leading to improved design outcomes.
  • Dynamic Prototyping and Simulation [16]: MR enables engineers to prototype and simulate the behavior of engineering products in real time. By integrating virtual models with physical objects, engineers can physically interact with the virtual components and observe their dynamic responses. This capability is particularly valuable for evaluating mechanisms, kinematics, and dynamic simulations. Engineers can assess the movements, forces, and constraints of virtual prototypes, leading to enhanced understanding, optimization, and refinement of designs.
  • Remote Collaboration and Assistance [17]: MR facilitates remote collaboration among geographically dispersed teams. Engineers can share their MR experiences with colleagues and stakeholders, allowing them to view and interact with virtual models remotely. This capability enables real-time collaboration, design reviews, and troubleshooting sessions regardless of physical location. Additionally, MR can provide remote assistance by overlaying virtual instructions or annotations onto physical objects, guiding technicians or operators through complex procedures.
  • Training and Skill Development [18, 19]: MR offers immersive and interactive engineering product operations and maintenance training environments. Users can visualize virtual equipment, interact with virtual controls, and practice simulated procedures in a realistic context. MR enables users to gain hands-on experience, learn correct techniques, and develop critical skills without physical equipment or risking safety hazards. This immersive training approach enhances knowledge retention, improves operational efficiency, and reduces training costs.
  • Contextualized Documentation and Maintenance [20]: MR can provide contextualized documentation and maintenance support for engineering products. By overlaying digital information onto physical objects, technicians can access relevant documentation, step-by-step instructions, or annotations directly within their field of view. This capability simplifies complex procedures, reduces errors, and improves maintenance efficiency.

3.7 Benefits of Visualization Technologies in Engineering

Visualizing engineering products through augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality technologies holds immense potential for transforming how complex systems are designed, developed, and interacted with. These technologies offer many benefits, which have been described in previous sections, but to sum up, they are:
  • Enhanced Design Iteration: Visualization technologies empower engineers to iterate and refine designs more efficiently. By providing a realistic representation of the product, engineers can identify potential issues, explore alternative design options, and optimize performance before physical prototyping. It reduces costs, accelerates development cycles, and fosters innovation.
  • Improved Collaboration: AR, VR, and MR facilitate collaboration among multidisciplinary teams by enabling shared virtual spaces, remote meetings, and real-time annotations. Engineers, designers, and stakeholders can review designs, provide feedback, and make informed decisions together, irrespective of their physical location. It promotes effective communication, reduces misunderstandings, and streamlines the decision-making process.
  • Enhanced Training and Maintenance: Visualization technologies offer immersive training environments for engineers and technicians. Through VR simulations, they can practice assembling, disassembling, and maintaining complex machinery without risking damage to actual equipment. AR overlays can provide real-time instructions, diagnostics, and safety information, aiding technicians in troubleshooting and reducing downtime.
  • Customer Engagement and Marketing: Visualizing engineering products using AR and VR opens new customer engagement and marketing avenues. Potential customers can experience products virtually, interact with different configurations, and visualize their integration into real-world settings. It enhances the buying experience, enables personalized customization, and reduces the need for physical prototypes.

3.8 The Future of Visualization Technologies in Engineering

As AR, VR, and MR technologies evolve, their integration into engineering processes is expected to become more seamless and pervasive. Advancements in hardware, such as lightweight and high-resolution displays, will enhance the realism and comfort of these visualization experiences. Additionally, integrating artificial intelligence into these technologies will enable intelligent object recognition, automated design optimizations, and real-time data analysis, further enhancing the visualization capabilities in engineering.
In the future, the following advancements and impacts could be anticipated:
  • Real-Time Collaboration: The future of visualization technologies in engineering will involve real-time collaboration on a global scale. Engineers from different disciplines and geographical locations can collaborate seamlessly in shared virtual spaces, enhancing productivity and fostering creativity. It will result in faster decision-making, reduced time to market, and increased innovation.
  • Digital Twin Integration [21]: Digital twin technology, which involves creating a virtual replica of a physical product or system, will be seamlessly integrated with visualization technologies. Engineers can visualize real-time data from sensors embedded in physical products, allowing for predictive maintenance, performance optimization, and real-time simulations. This integration will revolutionize how engineering products are monitored, maintained, and improved throughout their lifecycle.
  • Enhanced Human–Machine Interaction: With the advancement of visualization technologies, the interaction between humans and machines will become more natural and intuitive. Gesture recognition, voice commands, and haptic feedback will enable engineers to manipulate and interact with virtual objects more effectively. It will improve the design process and enhance the final products’ usability and ergonomics.
Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.
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Metadaten
Titel
Visualization of Engineering Products
verfasst von
Vitalii Ivanov
Ivan Pavlenko
Artem Evtuhov
Justyna Trojanowska
Copyright-Jahr
2024
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-44641-2_3

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