Lenovo is the largest PC company in the world. It’s no surprise. Their designs have won Red Dot “Best of the Best” awards, Good Design awards, CES Innovation awards, and more. The same thought goes into their visuals, using KeyShot to communicate the aesthetics and subtleties in the design of laptop and workstation product lines. We find out more about the design environment and what role KeyShot plays throughout the design process.

Modeling software used: SOLIDWORKS
Website: lenovo.com

Challenges:

  • Meet needs of fast-paced design environment.
  • Communicate with design and manufacturing around the world.
  • Improve on the design process to catch issues early.

Solution:

  • Create quick KeyShot renders to convey form and finish.
  • Use KeyShot to illustrate color, finish and material for manufacturing.
  • Use materials in KeyShot to check surfacing and finish.

Results

  • Visuals shown sooner and decisions made faster.
  • Efficiency gained by communicating material more effectively.
  • Catch issues early to eliminate rework downstream.

Lenovo drives innovation, and as a leading tech company, delivering dependable, consistent and beautiful products, there’s a constant need for product visualization to capture design intent early on. “Our process moves really fast, which means decisions often need to be made quickly. We need to use every avenue possible to visualize the product before it’s finalized. That means using quick foam mockups, starch models, 3D prints, CAD and renderings.”

As a global company, there’s a great sense of pride in their customers around the world who are innovating in their own fields and how worldwide design and manufacturing comes together to meet their needs — it’s an important aspect of what differentiates their design process.

With the fast pace of our design process, we travel a lot and use local workshops but sometimes, when meetings are taking place or decisions need to be made, we don’t have time to send physical models across the world so our KeyShot renderings are absolutely critical to making decisions.”

“What we don’t mention is the challenge it adds to the design process. “We have design teams all over the world–North Carolina, Beijing, Yokohama and Hong Kong. With the fast pace of our product development, we travel a lot and use local workshops but sometimes, when meetings are taking place or decisions need to be made, we don’t have time to send physical models across the world so our KeyShot renderings are absolutely critical to making decisions. We can send quick product renders to each other with an immediate feel for form, finish, color, and material–It puts us all on the same page, moving forward faster.”

With products to be deployed and trusted by their customers around the world, this becomes even more important. “Customers depend on them for products built to last and get the job done. Communicating this in product visuals becomes very important.” This applies to everything from their desktop lines, such as the ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One and laptop products, such as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon to their Workstation and even accessories, like the ThinkPad X1 travel mouse.

Reducing travel and speeding decisions is important, but the team says KeyShot goes on to save time and money other ways. “A simple example is when we make physical models–we spend a lot of money per year on physical models. They are critical in our decision-making process but take 2-3 weeks to build and ship. If we don’t have a way to visualize what that model looks like in a particular color or finish prior to making the model, we could easily make some unfavorable decisions.”

KeyShot helps us portray exactly what we want to see and it makes our process much more efficient.”

“More importantly, we utilize KeyShot to show the model shop what we want to the model to look like. Without sending numerous color, material and finish samples we often don’t have, there is no way to communicate, for instance, a ‘platinum anodized aluminum with a high polish finish and subtle hairlines’ material. KeyShot helps us portray exactly what we want to see and it makes our process much more efficient.”

Lenovo uses KeyShot throughout the design process, and for final marketing and sales imagery, but you may be surprised at the more unconventional use of KeyShot. They use it for, “Surfacing. It might sound silly but we use KeyShot to check our surfacing. A lot of us moved from the Lenovo desktop team to the laptop team early last year. We thought it would be an easy transition but there is one main difference between modeling a desktop and modeling a laptop–surfacing. Very few surfaces on a laptop are flat, so many of us went through extensive training to master this modeling skill but, sometimes, even with tools the 3D software provides, it can still be difficult to see how your surface actually looks. So it has become a habit to bring our models into KeyShot and apply the chrome material to check our surfaces. Every time it helps us catch surface incongruities we would never have seen otherwise.”

When it comes to advice for other individuals and companies, their recommendation is simple. “Take the KeyShot training! It was the best decision we could have made. Some of our people knew very little about KeyShot and others were really good. After the training, however, our product renders went from badly lit rectangles to completely real product shots. There are so many tips and tricks to be learned, even if you’ve been using KeyShot for a long time, take the time for training, especially if your company depends on renderings to sell the products, you really want them to look their best. We look forward to the next training, to continue learning, finding ways to increase our efficiency and make our future products look amazing.”