Introducing Thangs Workspace: a 3D version control and collaboration platform
Finding reusable 3D models of machines and machine parts is perhaps one of the toughest tasks that manufacturers and design firms undertake. It’s a laborious process. At best, many teams search for hours to find relevant models, and at worst, they’re unable to find those models at all or they cannot rely on software to accurately find parts. This leads to wasted time; the average engineer spends 12 hours a week searching for models. Add to that the needless redesigning of substitute parts from scratch or buying new products, all because it’s too hard to find the exact part needed.
With a clean and organized 3D model catalog, engineers and designers can focus on innovation instead of recreation. Whether it’s designing something new, finding a replacement for a broken part, or identifying a substitute part, Physna's technology makes it easy to find the parts and models creators, designers, and engineers are looking for and others that may work as substitutes from existing inventory or designs.
Major manufacturers can use Physna to search and manage hundreds of thousands of 3D models, but Physna also has an amazing community of creators who use Thangs, its consumer product, every day to find, share, and collaborate on new 3D models.
What is Thangs?
Thangs is the largest 3D search platform on the planet, free for every user. There are over 12M user-generated models across 29 file formats, including a new category of 3D metaverse models — all in one platform. Users don’t need any specialized software to view models and there’s no limit to how many models they can upload or download.
For 3D printing aficionados, users can search for 3D models by “file type” or the “is it printable” filter — ensuring the object is 3D printable. Thangs searches across models that have been uploaded directly to the site as well as models from over fifty other sites. It can also instantly convert any model into Augmented Reality (AR), viewable in your browser on your phone, without the need to download an app. So if users want to see how a 3D printed model of The Rock as a superhero will look on a shelf, they can easily do so with Thangs’ AR capabilities.
Thangs is also the only 3D search platform that allows users to search by text or by uploading a model, thanks to its powerful deep learning technology.
Text search is simple: search for “piston head” and you will find models of pistons. However, you can also search for 3D models using 3D models — think of it like autocomplete for 3D models.
If you have a model for a piston head, you can upload that model into Thangs’ search engine and you will find not only geometrically similar pistons to the model you uploaded, but also immediately see 3D models of cylinders it fits within as well as full engines that fit that same piston and cylinder.
Autocomplete and collaboration for 3D models has applications beyond hobbyists. With our newest product, Thangs Workspace, you don’t have to be a major manufacturer or large enterprise to leverage enterprise-grade technology.
Mechanical and hardware engineers, independent creators, freelancers, and small businesses that may not need a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Product Data Management (PDM) tool can, for the first time, easily design and collaborate on 3D models.
And like Thangs, Thangs Workspace is also free.
Hello, Thangs Workspace!
Software engineers have material advantages over hardware and mechanical engineers when designing and creating in their field of work. They can easily search for code, and it’s easy for multiple software engineers to collaborate on one application at once in repositories like Github. The reality for too many mechanical engineers is that the creation process isn’t streamlined—sharing designs back and forth, labeled v1, v2, v3. The result is wasted time, miscommunication, and frustration.
With Thangs Workspace — the first 3D model collaboration tool — smaller teams and creators can mitigate those pain points with access to some of the tools that large manufacturers have through Physna Enterprise. In Thangs Workspace, a team of 3D designers can collaborate on the engine from the previous example, easily seeing differences between design versions, including before and after, a side by side comparison, a change map, and x-ray vision detailing internal, geometric revisions.
3D reuse, design, and collaboration in Thangs Workspace is as simple and fast as Github is for software engineers. It’s a meteoric leap for anyone and everyone who designs tangible products for the real world.
Collaboration with teams
With Thangs Workspace, it’s easy for teams to collaborate throughout the design process of a particular 3D model. Instead of jumping back and forth between Slack, texts, and email, teams can use the tasks feature In Thangs Workspace to keep track of what needs to be done and who needs to do it entirely in the platform.
3D version control
Thangs Workspace allows users to upload and track different versions of the same model to easily identify what changes were made, by whom, when, and observe the implications of those changes to the model.
Traceable provenance with 3D designs was previously not easy. Like Google Docs, Thangs Workspace makes it easy to revert back to a previous version of a design or understand who made what changes, keeping model history and version control transparent and well-organized.
Highly visual 3D model viewer
The visual 3D model viewer is one of the most important components of Thangs Workspace — it shows the collaboration in action. The four view features within Thangs Workspace allows users to dive into the specific differences and changes between versions of models or assemblies. Doing this saves time, energy, and money, ensuring teams can create the model they want.
First is the Overview feature, which allows users to compare new and old models of a version side-by-side.
This is the most basic way to compare models.
With the Overlay feature, you can easily see a detailed version of changes by using the slider at the bottom of the models.
Slide from “before” to “after” to see how the original 3D model has changed into the current version over time. Thangs Workspace also has a Change Map. This feature is a color-coded heat map that shows the degree of change that occurred between two different versions of a 3D model.
The Overview, Overlay, and Change Map features all primarily deal with the external view of a model. If you want to dive inside the model to see subcomponents beyond what’s viewable from the outside, Thangs Workspace has an X-Ray view feature to see inside the model. This is important for more complex mechanical designs that have a bevy of subcomponents.
The X-Ray vision has three options to see changes: Updated Parts, Added Parts, and Removed Parts. If a part subcomponent of a 3D model was changed, you’d see that through the Updated Parts overlay. And as the name suggests, easily see parts that have been added or removed using the Added Parts or Removed Parts filters.
Taken together, these features in Thangs Workspace means everyone can easily know who changed a model, what they changed, how they changed it, and when they changed it.
Gone are the days when 3D designers and mechanical engineers had to manually track version history or save multiple iterations of the same model. Thangs Workspace handles all of that, eliminating redundancy and frustration, ultimately saving time, money, and the mental sanity of people working on 3D models.
What’s next for Thangs Workspace?
Thangs Workspace is available in open beta for teams working on designs with up to 500,000 polygons. We’re continuing to expand and improve the product based on feedback from our community of creators. We’d love to hear from you as we continue to expand and improve the product for GA launch later this year. See what you can do with Thangs Workspace today!
Chris Long is no stranger to getting millions involved in social causes and now want to leverage technology to involve billions of people.
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