KeyShot is used to create 3D rendering all along the product design process. This can be from the beginning, at concept visualization, to the end, when images are needed for marketing or manufacturing. Formation Design is a product development firm out of Atlanta Georgia whose capabilities range from highly detailed product design to complete aircraft interiors. They cover the entire process of development with a focus on the individual and how they interact with and around the design. We caught up with Robert Henshaw, partner of the Formation Design Group, to get further insight into their design process and how they’re using KeyShot.

Formation Design Group

Modeling software used:
NX/SolidWorks

More and more images you see have a rich and fulfilling lifecycle drenched by the materials and lighting applied via KeyShot. Formation is showing how they’re able to do this with the models they create in NX and bring directly into KeyShot. They’re recipients of many design awards including the GOOD DESIGN award for the Crown ESR 5000 Series Reach Truck and the Medical Design Excellence Award for the Buzzy Needle Pain Relief System.

Formation’s latest aircraft seating design has been featured in Aircraft Interiors Magazine and has recently been granted a US Patent for the original seating concept that allows a greater number of lie-flat seats than any other seat configuration. The design makes us the vertical space with a direct consideration for the entire compartment and the comfort of the passenger. They continue to develop the seat, improving the concept for use on commercial and VIP aircraft.

“KeyShot has been remarkable at helping us stay focused on design as opposed to burning time setting up lights and all the other nuances and tweaking associated with rendering a CAD model.”

They do a lot more than aircraft interiors though. Formation has a wide selection of work, and they’ve grown to take on a lot of different products, “We started the company in 1999 wanting to apply our approach in design to many industries.  Our approach involves studying how and why people use products, Bob say, “From these observations we compose product solutions based on carefully crafting the functional potential, aesthetic character and the plan for producing the solution. Then, we validate and refine solutions with end users through prototyping. Over the years we have completed many successful projects, many of which have garnered design and industry awards with these leading to more and more opportunities for us.”

With a team of designers with a wide variety of interests, Formation has been able to take on a diverse set of programs and apply this approach to each project.

Many different customers can mean working with many different software packages, with NX being the primary solution for 3D modeling since they started the company. “We like the power of NX and its flexibility for free-form modeling and its robustness for handling large assemblies. We also use Solidworks. Before we started the company we knew we wanted to fully leverage the growing number of digital tools that would allow us to not only be efficient but most importantly, more creative. We were also early adopters of concept sketching using Wacom Cintiq tablets which allowed us to fluidly move to and from 3D CAD to sketching with little interruption.”

But it doesn’t end there, “Several years ago we also invested heavily in CAM and large format CNC technology which has allowed us to be able to build mock-ups and prototypes in our own shop under very compressed time frames. Embracing and pushing ourselves to use the power of evolving technologies has allowed us to be very prolific for a relatively small design firm.”

When looking for a 3D rendering package, they knew what problems they wanted to solve. Bob says that, “Finding KeyShot was like a dream realized. We were always frustrated with the amount of time that could be consumed trying to get well visualized images from our CAD data. Setting up lights and scenes to bring about a plausible amount of believability was laborious and we were always feeling they were failing short of being photorealistic.”

And that is where KeyShot came in. “KeyShot has been remarkable at helping us stay focused on design as opposed to burning time setting up lights and all the other nuances and tweaking associated with rendering a CAD model. The environment based lighting is a fantastic advancement which has really enhanced our work flow and quality of our concept visualizations. The addition of animation functionality that is based on the same intuitive interface has allowed us to visualize and tell the story of concepts we never were able to do before without huge budgets and bringing in specialist.”

With som many projects under their belt, we wanted to know what have been some of the more memorable project the group has worked on. “everyone here has a different favorite.” Bob says, “I really enjoy seeing behind the scenes, whether it’s a huge manufacturing site such as Airbus’s Hamburg plant or seeing how a nuclear camera can construct 3D models of your circulatory system all by counting specs of light being emitted by an exotic crystal. Most of our work involves making technology accessible and as friendly to use as possible. So, when we received a brief that involved designing a Paintball mask that was to be as frightening looking as possible we all had a great time with it. Variety keeps things interesting.”