Industrial design students saw a significant change in the early '80s, when computer-aided design classes began to impact their curriculum. Most students still learn to draw with pens and markers, but computer-aided design programs are a more common tool for the serious professional, who must compete at the cutting edge of product and automotive design.

Recently we were introduced to Vizual Tech (;, a Swedish-based company and website. The small design firm specializes in computer-aided automotive and product design. The principal designer of the company is Bo Zolland. Bo tells us that Vizual Tech was founded in 1999, and that although his company is small, it works with a number of subcontractors for three-dimensional design and translation into other languages.

Bo is a seriously infected race fan and automotive enthusiast, but will take on almost any design project, including wooden boats and recreational watercraft. Yes, he continues to draw by hand, but admits that computer-generated renderings provide an entirely new dimension to the services he can offer his clients-clients who must be wholly confident of the product development direction before committing millions of dollars in tooling.

The computer-generated renderings are an important intermediate step in the product development process, allowing clients to thoroughly review a product design, graphic design, or vehicle concept before reaching the three-dimensional phase-before any decisions are cast in economic concrete. Bo can easily change the shape, color, or graphics of an object in the computer. He can also change the viewing angle, the lighting, and the entire surroundings by modifying the program input of 3DS and Rhino.