This is the sixth year that I’ve attended Develop 3DLive. Based out of Warwick University, the ever-changing landscape of the campus seems to echo that of the rich content found at D3DLive and to the wider design and manufacturing industry as a whole. Every year brings more people and every year we see great talks, fresh speakers and a constant volley of technologies designed to improve, challenge and excite traditional workflows and practices for the design and manufacturing industry.

This year and throughout the show exciting technologies like virtual reality, visualization and 3D printing seemed to underpin the tone and direction of the topics that was discussed. There was a wide range of exhibitors adopting these technologies and showed interesting use cases with their own unique value.

I remember three years ago when AMD showed some very basic VR experiences using an old Oculus Rift SDK2 headset powered by a lot of GPUS. Although the tech was crude and made most people who tried it feel ill, it still excited and provided a glimpse into the power of virtual reality. Things have certainly come a long way since then with many companies using virtual reality in a variety of ways, although for many VR adopters in D&M it boils down to three main areas; 1) design review 2) team collaboration 3) client review.

Spending the majority of my time in the VR Zone I spoke with many designers and engineers interested in how they can adopt VR. In fact, this was an occurring and very popular question asked at me. Many exhibitors spoke about the worrying complexity of integrating VR into their workflow and what was needed to do it. My main advice too many of the exhibitors I spoke to was “good research” and “understand how you want to use VR” as there as plenty of software applications designed for VR work. Then you have the software engines that power VR content and finally the hardware. All three components are making virtual reality more accessible.

Radeon ProRender Game Engine Importer

For many of the exhibitors who were SOLIDWORKS users, I also shared some new updates around our Radeon ProRender add-in which should help them integrate VR into their workflows more easily and quickly. The demo we had onsite (and got a lot of attention) was a demo that showed a SOLIDWORKS model (in SOLIDWORKS) that was exported into Radeon ProRender (which applied the necessary textures and materials) before importing into Unreal Engine (for VR visualization). This was all achieved with a couple of clicks of a button.

Soon SOLIDWORKS users will be able to view models and designs in virtual reality thanks to the Radeon ProRender add-in (currently in beta) and the Radeon ProRender Game Engine Importer (currently pre-alpha). You can learn more and apply for to our Radeon ProRender SOLIDWORKS add-in beta by reading our blog.

Develop3Dlive partners

Partnering not only with HP we welcomed Epic Games this year at D3Dlive and showed some fantastic VR experiences powered by Unreal Engine 4. Not only this Epic Games showed just how versatile their Unreal Engine is by demonstrating it as a powerful, real-time visualization tool. I can confirm, with its impressive rendering capabilities the models shown simply jumped off the screen and caught the eye of many exhibitors.

Another partner who joined Radeon Pro and HP was the Foundry who showcased their powerful and flexible 3D modeling tool, Modo. Used with the HP Z840 Workstation featuring Radeon Pro WX7100 GPUs and the impressive HP Z34c wide screen monitor the Foundry Artist had more than enough performance and desktop space to show some amazing Modo features which captured the imagine and interest of many exhibitors.

There was so much packed into the single day event I think it’s safe to say that no one person can see it all. However, the one thing I can surmise from my experience at D3DLive is the impressive rate of adoption from companies and designers alike. Software and hardware manufacturers are continually developing better products for professionals in Design & Manufacturing. In turn, professionals are just as keen to learn and adopt these technologies to improve their current workflows and experiences. The technologies might be ever changing and improving but the relationship between the manufacturers and professionals remain the same.

Want to learn more about VR ready workstations and what areas you need to consider to set up your own VR workflow, then download the HP & Radeon Pro workstation supplement here.

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George Watkins is a Radeon Pro Regional Marketing Manager, EMEA, at AMD’s Radeon Technology Group.

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