Product Design

See $2 Million Worth of Polygons Free

15 Mar, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Right Hemisphere enables DiMora to pitch its unfinished luxury sedan to window shoppers.


Alfred DiMora, founder and chief executive officer of DiMora Motorcar, wants automobile lovers to salivate over the Natalia SLS 2, described as the world's first $2 million luxury sport sedan. The prototype is unfinished, and the first unit -- Production Sequence Number 001 -- is not scheduled to roll out of the assembly line until 2008. Still, DiMora wants potential buyers to visualize the vehicle with a variety of atmospheric lights bouncing off its roof, examine its bumpers and exhaust pipes at close range and imagine it in an assortment of colors: chrome black, cherry maroon, metallic silver and so on. To bring the car to life, he's directing window shoppers toward an Acrobat window.

DiMora to Industrial Espions: Download Acrobat Reader

Luxury automobile makers don’t usually like to publicize their upcoming designs -- for good reason. “There are spies out there chasing after early prototypes. Some people make a living at it,” DiMora said with a chuckle. “But I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to show everything about the car.” One of his goals, he announced, is to “reveal the design, build and test of vehicles via the Internet so the world can learn from and can interact with DiMora Motorcar.”

To make his design concept for the Natalia accessible to everyone, DiMora Motorcar partnered with Right Hemisphere, which develops and markets enterprise software packages for publishing and distributing CAD data as 3D-enabled PDF documents. For the Natalia project, Right Hemisphere uses its PDF Publishing Module 2.0 (currently in beta), Deep Exploration CAD Edition 4.1 and PDF Template Designer 2.0, in conjunction with Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Acrobat 3D.

From CATIA to PDF

“Deep Exploration is a client-level program that can convert the solid geometry in most CAD systems -- Unigraphics, CATIA, so on -- into polygons,” said Lars Olson, director of technical marketing at Right Hemisphere. According to Olson, Deep Exploration shrank the Natalia’s 30MB Unigraphics NX2 source file into a lightweight 3D polygon object, and further reduced the polygon count to half without sacrificing visual fidelity.

Olson explained that the template for the tabulated layout was created in Adobe Illustrator CS, which lets users export the resulting template as PDF layers. Afterward, Adobe Acrobat 3D was used to add navigation buttons for switching from one designated 3D view to the next. The 3D controls were added using Right Hemisphere’s PDF Template Designer plug-in for Adobe Acrobat 3D, enabling the creation of a PDF template without having to learn or program JavaScript.  The optimized Natalia CAD content was then published to the PDF template. The result is an interactive 3D-enabled PDF file that can be viewed by anyone -- including industrial spies -- using the free Acrobat Reader (7.07 or higher).


Anyone can view DiMora’s Natalia SLS 2 on the Internet using Acrobat Reader.

Deep Exploration allows additional refinement of the 3D object, such as adding reflection maps to create authenticity. For instance, if users want to set the 3D scene within Central Park, New York, they can use an image of the place to ensure that the environment is reflected on the 3D object’s surfaces.

Proliferation of 3D Through PDF

Right Hemisphere’s Olson, who admittedly has spent the past seven years exploring real-time 3D playback on the Web, said, “There are two major stumbling blocks to creating interactive 3D content that Right Hemisphere has solved. One, the content is expensive to create in 3ds Max, Maya or another 3D program. Two, programming interactive 3D content is time-consuming and difficult, because it involves the knowledge of JavaScript, LISP or some other programming language.”

With a tool like Deep Exploration, Olson pointed out, a user can extract the 3D object from the existing CAD data with no additional investment and design the interactive navigation elements -- buttons, tabs, layout windows and so on -- using industry-standard graphics applications such as Illustrator and Acrobat 3D, removing the programming barrier.

DiMora remarked, “A major part of our program is educating people around the world about automotive design and construction. Since the only tool the user needs is the Adobe Reader that Adobe makes available for free, this gives us a tremendous tool that our students and even casual Web site visitors can use as well. . . . We plan to distribute more PDF files made with Right Hemisphere as the program moves along.”

According to DiMora, the PDF 3D document generated a number of comments from visitors, prompting him to reconsider some of his original design components. “I had lights that were in front of the car that were reminiscent of the 1930s-era cars,” he recalled. “A lot of people wrote to us and said they didn’t like that.” The Natalia now houses a pair of twenty-first century headlights. DiMora likes the notion that he is conducting virtual design reviews with anonymous car lovers everywhere. “The people, they know the market best,” he said.


Users can change the color of the Natalia.

The Natalia will feature a 1,200 horsepower DiMora Volcano V16 engine, a chassis constructed of advanced aerospace materials and more than 60 onboard computer systems with an optional feature that allows the automobile to shift color depending on outdoor climate. DiMora’s founder and the Clenet, one of his previous creations, were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Michigan in 1986.

To view the Natalia in 3D-enabled PDF, click here.
For more on Right Hemisphere’s technology, read “First Look: Deep Exploration 4.0.”


About the Author: Kenneth Wong


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