What is the history of 3D Design? What stages has 3D design gone through? What advances and technologies have contributed to the birth and development of 3D design? Since when did people want to record 3D images?
3D design has evolved over time. It wasn’t like someone invented a 3D printer overnight. It is not an exaggeration to say that humans have always sought to transform two-dimensional images into three-dimensional ones. After all, the world we live in is a three-dimensional world. So, the 3D image is closer to reality than the 2D image.
In this content, I will introduce you to the history of 3D design and answer the questions that were raised. If you are a 3D designer or you are interested in learning 3D design, it is better to familiarize yourself with the history of 3D design. Because when you know the past, you can predict the future. As a result, you become a designer who knows well why and where 3D modeling came from and what changes it is going to create in the future.
Table of Contents
History of 3D design
To make things easier, the historical course of development and progress in 3D modeling and design is divided into two general categories: 3D design before the 21st century and 3D design in the 21st century. The first title begins with human efforts to find a way to depict three-dimensional objects and ends with the birth of design software. The second title follows the evolution of 3D design from the last decade of the 20th century until now.
You may not believe it, but 3D design has a long history. A history that is tied to progress in mathematics, especially geometry. Mathematical formulas made 3D visualization on paper and later in 3D design software like Blender possible.
3D design before the 21st century
Attempts to understand and depict three-dimensional space began in the sixth century BC, and perhaps even earlier. Geometry was an attempt to model the material world and its objects. It was in the third century BC that Euclid compiled the basic principles of geometry in his book, and for this reason, he was called the father of geometry or the founder of the science of geometry.
The science of geometry deals with the properties of space and points (which form lines and shapes). Objects have dimensions. So, the dimension is also one of the topics that is discussed in geometry. Studying and investigating the characteristics of zero dimensions (particles without dimensions), one dimensions (line), two dimensions (plane), three dimensions (objects) and four dimensions (the space obtained from the extension of the three-dimensional law) is one of the subjects of geometry science. .
But it’s not like everything in geometry was clear from the beginning. Geometry, like any science, was completed by the efforts of scientists and mathematicians in the following centuries. In Euclidean geometry, there was no such thing as a coordinate axis to draw three-dimensional shapes with length, width, and height.
17th century and the Cartesian coordinate system
They show three-dimensional objects on the coordinate axis with 3 points (length, width and height). René Descartes, the famous French philosopher and mathematician, added the coordinate system to geometry in the 17th century and paved the way for further developments. In fact, the Cartesian coordinate axis is the mathematical basis of three-dimensional modeling.
If you are familiar with 3D modeling in 3D design software, for example, Blender; you know that there the designer deals with the coordinate axis. 3D design software’s are designed and developed based on the coordinate axis. Because to make a 3D model of real (or even imaginary) objects in the virtual world and on the computer screen, their length, width and height and accurate calculations are needed.
I should also say that 3D modeling is the first stage of 3D design in which the designer draws the initial plan of what he wants to create in 3D space. Then it completes the surface of the object, adds the lighting angle and details, and finally renders it.
20th century and the birth of Computer-aided Design (CAD)
What is a computer? A very fast calculator that can perform difficult and complex calculations for humans in the shortest possible time. The computer was invented with this idea. No one used computers for design. Because the computer was supposed to do calculations and help engineers. The computer was not a tool for artistic creations. But you and I know very well that it became a powerful tool for creating works of art.
When a computer is used for complex calculations, why not design a car engine or a house or even draw a picture with it? In 1963, Ivan Edvard Sutherland created a software called Sketchpad, which turned the computer into a tool for graphic design. Sketchpad is like a sketchbook, albeit a 3D sketchbook. Therefore, the computer can be used to design and produce any type of image, i.e. computer graphics.
In 1964, General Motors and IBM announced that they had jointly developed an integrated computer program for car design. It was called Design Augmented by Computer. After that, many CAD (computer-aided design) softwares were created for designing in various fields and industries.
Automobile manufacturing, architecture, design and manufacturing of engines and complex and heavy industrial devices, urban planning, cinema and television industry, jewelry industry, computer games, etc. are among the industries and fields in which CAD software was used. Many of those softwares give the designer tools and the possibility of 2D and 3D design together.
Computational Geometry and Geometric Modeling
With a basic software like Sketchpad, you couldn’t make an airplane engine or animation or make maps of the depth of the oceans. Design software developed in parallel with the development of hardware (computers). Again, geometry and geometric modeling came to the aid of CAD software developers and developers, paving the way for the development of more powerful and feature-rich 3D design software. Because those software also perform complex calculations for 3D modeling.
How to solve geometry problems quickly and optimally with computers and computer programs? Computational or computer geometry is a branch of computer science and mathematics that tries to find an answer to that question. Computational geometry has two main subfields: algorithmic geometry and numerical computational geometry or geometric design or geometric modeling. The job of geometric modeling is to draw real world objects with computer language. So, with geometric modeling, it is possible to design and produce any type of code system.
3D design in the 21st century
In this section, the developments that caused the evolution of 3D design and the evolution and complexity of CAD systems or software from the 90s onwards are discussed. When engineers and designers used design software for product design and production, the cost and production time were saved a lot. Also, the design and production process was more optimized, more coordinated and less error-prone.
This is the reason that not only the industrial applications of 3D modeling increase every day, but also 3D design finds new applications. So, there was a need to design and build more powerful software to enable more realistic, more evolved and more detailed modeling. Of course, other developments helped expand the applications of 3D design.
The most important of them was that powerful computers and laptops were made. Every day, the number of people who had access to computers at their desks or at home was increasing. The Internet became more accessible every day and created new needs and jobs. As a result, ordinary people and users, artists, content producers, site designers to design visual elements and user interface, clothing designers and not only engineers and architects had the possibility and need to use design software.
New and diverse applications of 3D design
When the computer became a tool for many jobs and professions, everything was ready for the design and production of cheap, free and not so specialized CAD software. For this reason, the early years of the 21st century coincided with a significant growth in the 3D software design and production industry. Part of that growth was due to the needs of the cinema industry and the popularity of animations. There was a need for 3D design software to become more artistic and provide more facilities and space for the designer’s creativity.
In the 21st century, 3D design became an art and was no longer just an industry. 3D design became an independent job and profession. 3D designs and animations found a special place in advertisements, and audiences loved them and were attracted to 3D designs. With software like Blender, which is free and open source, it’s easy to create 3D artwork. Platforms and sites were created that were a platform for beginners and professional designers to share their 3D designs with the world. In recent years, the 3D design itself has become a product that can be sold in the form of 3D NFTs on the Internet.
Making the first 3D printer (3D Printing)
When 3D design became an opportunity to show the creativity of designers, it was no longer necessary for things that are designed in 3D to be models of real objects. A designer may design a dinosaur or a dragon or minions or even a human heart in Blender. Well, now that everything can be designed in 3D, why not print them? Specialists and technology owners tried to answer that question for several decades (from 1980 onwards) by building a 3D printer.
3D printers are devices that work with different technologies and different materials. What they all have in common is that they take the input i.e. the 3D computer design and deliver the physical object (output). 3D printers create the output by stacking layer upon layer of materials (these materials can be anything from plastic and metal to living tissue).
3D printing has wide industrial, commercial, scientific, educational, healthcare, artistic and personal applications. Various industrial and construction parts can be made with 3D printing. A very important advantage that has caused 3D printing to become a production technology and an optimal method for production in the near future is that using 3D printing saves a lot on the consumption of raw materials. Because the machine knows exactly how much material it needs to make a 3D design. For this reason, we should expect significant changes that 3D printing will create in various industries.
3D Printing Pen
Making all kinds of 3D printers is an industry in itself. It is predicted that the global market of 3D printers will reach a value of 41 billion dollars in 2026. Companies compete with each other to make different 3D printers. The latest innovation in this industry is making a 3D printing pen.
3D design and virtual reality
Don’t think that the history of 3D design is over. It is not an exaggeration to say that the 21st century is the beginning of 3D design. Because developments and developments continue. The computer game industry is one of the industries that was revolutionized by 3D design and is widely used in it. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are new technologies that have transformed the world of games.
Those technologies simulate both realities, i.e. the 3D world, and 3D design has made both technologies possible. Of course, augmented reality and virtual reality found other uses. Those two technologies are going to build the future virtual world, Metavesre. Metaverse is 3D. So, that being said, maybe 3D design is just at the beginning and it is going to change life and the world more than we think.