VOX brings the noise with Autodesk: Inventor and Showcase assist with new product design

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This came in from Autodesk’s rocking PR team while I was out in California, but as long time readers of the blog will know, I can resist a bit of music mixing it up with some righteous 3D technology use. According to the press release, VOX Amplification has started to use Inventor and Showcase to assist with the design of four newly minted guitar amplifiers, the AC30C2 and the AC15C1 Custom Series, as well as the AC15VR and the AC30VR.

The press release states that VOX have been used by numerous influential bands and musicians.* Reality is, if you’re a gear-head, the AC30 brings back memories and smells of vintage tube amps warming up for some abuse, from the Stones to Radiohead and all points in between. If you’ve picked up a guitar, then you’ve probably plugged into or wanted to plug into a VOX amp or stomped on a VOX Wah pedal (as Hendrix did) at some point. So let’s look at the details.

Dave Clarke, product development manager, VOX’s UK-based R&D centre said “In today’s economic climate, we need to react fast to market trends. Creating digital prototypes with Inventor software and using Showcase for 3D visualization reduces costs and cuts development time in half. Digital prototypes help save money by reducing the need for more costly physical prototypes. With Showcase, we’re able to make real-time changes to a design and quickly reach a concept that the whole team is happy with. This significantly reduces time to market.

For those that are unfamiliar with Showcase, it’s probably the best kept secret in Autodesk’s Manufacturing solutions division and it combines real-time design evaluation, presentation and photo realistic rendering all in one wicked package.

Design Goals

VOX wanted to maintain the quality and iconic look of its AC30 amplifier, while adding modern design features, improving serviceability and lowering the price point. The result is the new AC30C2 Custom Series. For the more affordable AC15VR and AC30VR amplifiers, it was important to keep manufacturing costs down while maintaining the renowned VOX sound quality. The economical amps also needed a look that distinguished them from the company’s premium Custom Series offering.

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Digital Prototyping with Inventor Software

Inventor software was used to help design and digitally prototype the new amplifiers, reducing the need for multiple costly physical prototypes. VOX also developed cost-effective manufacturing processes using Inventor software, enabling the company to achieve target price points.

We wanted a more accessible price point for the AC30C2 Custom Series, but there was no way we would sacrifice quality,” said Clarke. “Using Inventor for the mechanical design of the Custom Series, we were able to more quickly prototype construction techniques that achieved the best possible quality and value. We did the same thing with the AC15VR and AC30VR amps.”



3D Visualization with Autodesk Showcase Software

VOX used Autodesk Showcase software for real-time 3D visualization, creating highly realistic digital imagery of the new products before they were built. 3D visualization helped VOX to more quickly refine and finalize aesthetic decisions, before physical prototypes were built. 

“The biggest challenge we faced when launching the new AC30 was adding cool features while remaining true to our roots,” said Clarke. “We used Showcase to help make and finalize cosmetic decisions at the earliest possible stage of the design process. Creating near photo-realistic visualizations also helped eliminate the need for small but costly changes further down the line, which saved a lot of time and money. We also used Showcase from the start of the conceptual design phase for the AC15VR and AC30VR amps,” added Clarke. “The software’s real-time visualization capabilities helped us determine the precise differences between the VR Series and the premium Custom Series.

So. Here’s the obligatory music video. Hmm. Could I link up some of the righteous riffing from Brian May’s live shows with Queen? nope. Gallows. London is the Reason from the best album of last year. Crank It.

* They’re also endorsed by The Edge of U2 and Chad Kroeger of Nickleback – and yes. I threw up a wee bit just typing this sentence.


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