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The use of AI in Modelmaking
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Thank you Mitch,

A really useful perspective. Improvements in CAD workflows for rapid prototyping would seem an obvious future benefit, and of course there is the whole 'cultural' response to AI whereby the overload of digital things in the world serves to increase the value of a beautifully hand made physical a model!


This is an interesting subject.

Being on the software end of things (retired modelmaker and current Rhino reseller/teacher) I can speak from some practical experience. Last week I gave a “Rhino for modelmakers” workshop to some members of our own modelmakers association here. I had 10 minutes left at the end of the day, so I decided to try something funny – pretend I was a beginner and ask ChatGPT (3.5) to write a Python script for Rhino for a function - that I had written previously myself and demoed earlier in the day. Something I have spent the last 10 years or so learning how to do. In 3 or 4 tries in 5 minutes, it got it more or less right.

Also being on the Rhino support forum, there is a current thread on AI assists in rendering – and some of the results are really spectacular.

From this I can extrapolate that AI will soon be able to do more complex tasks, it looks like 3D (computer) models from language-prompted ideas are not far off. I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be able to generate GCode or have routines to fix .stl models. Whether I would trust it to run my CNC mill or 3D printer is another matter though. Not with the current state of affairs anyway.

Keep in mind that all of this “AI” currently is really just a giant vacuum cleaner scraping stuff that has been posted on the internet, social media, etc. so it’s going to spit out some recombination of bits of what other people have already figured out to do somewhere. And it’s not above getting stuck or giving you false information. I tried it again at home to write a Python script for a function that I couldn’t find in the various online docs – and it failed miserably, kept going around in circles and giving me bad invented code. Turns out this function is not actually available currently, but it never knew or said that.

A lot depends on the model the AI is trained on. If it is a specific-purpose AI trained on expert, verified info, it can make a formidable tool. We will need to learn to use these tools as they become available. As to the more mundane aspects of running a business/model shop, it will also end up doing most of our accounting, writing proposals, quotes, scheduling, e-mails etc. Be nice if it could actually pick up a broom and sweep the floor.

On the other hand - again depending on the model it is trained on and the intent of the people behind it - we are already seeing the impact of the disinformation and chaos that AI has the potential to spread.

I think the impact of AI on our profession and our daily lives will be much more far-reaching than CNC/3DPrinting/automated manufacturing ever was. There will be winners and losers, some people might find themselves out of a job and others might end up with a better job – possibly managing the AI…

For me personally, as I half-jokingly posted on the Rhino forum awhile back - I think I’ll give up on programming software and doing photos, because AI can already do that better than me. I’m going back to working on my 50’s vintage car now because as far as I know, AI isn’t yet able to pick up a wrench.

Hello everyone,

I'm doing some research into the uses of AI within the field to gauge what the role of the technology might be in terms of future skills modelmakers might need. We are in the process of updating our curriculum here on the Modelmaking degree here at AUB so getting professional insights is really useful.

I'd love to hear from anyone who is already using AI. If you are, how? If you're not using it, do you think there might be workflow efficiencies that AI could unlock?

Does AI even have a place within our processes?

Given the APMM was founded at the tipping point when CAD/CAM arrived on the scene, are there any similar anxieties about AI today, or is it (as CAD/CAM became) just another tool for us to use? If it is, how might we then use it?

Dr David Lund

Arts University Bournemouth, UK

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