Hello Class, Today We’re Making a Jumbo 747
Roopinder Tara posted on October 17, 2019 |

The landing gear of the 747 required special attention. Jan spent a day in the hangar measuring and photographing a 747 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. He took hundreds of photos of the landing gear. He got to sit in the cockpit. Don’t try this at home. Jan got away with it because his friend, a mechanical engineer who works for KLM, the national airline and owner of the 747, allowed him access.

If you took a class to learn how to model with SolidWorks, you were subjected to a parade of objects, brackets, sliders, separators, V-blocks, guides, etc. They are all 3D shapes, possibly derived but long since removed from industrial reality. They will have two effects. One, they teach you how to sketch, extrude and loft, fillet… familiarizing you to all the powers of your software. Second, they will put you to sleep. The objects you are asked to model are unrelatable, uninteresting, just tools to learn a trade.

When you are done with your course, you will have a portfolio that looks like everyone else’s portfolio. 

Now imagine the look of your prospective employer who has asked you to show them what you have made, and you show a beautifully rendered image of an entire aircraft. Not just an artist’s rendering of some comic book fascination, but a carefully created solid model that your soon-to-be boss will instantly recognize: a Boeing Jumbo Jet, the 747-8.  

A commercial aircraft used for a tutorial? We came across someone claiming to do just that. 

We tracked down Jan Willem Zuyderduyn in his home-office in the picturesque town of Goes (pronounced Hoose) in the Netherlands to explain how this might be possible.

Beauty Is Skin Deep

As an industrial designer, Jan has mastered SOLIDWORKS well enough to teach it. He has built a business in teaching those who want to learn SolidWorks, saving poor souls the drudgery of designing brackets and other useless and boring widgets.

Why the 747, we have to ask. 

Jan calls the hulking, bulging Boeing 747 "beautiful," the way a proud parent would show a picture of their child grown up. Politeness demands we not disagree. Truth be told, the 747 has been likened to a whale. Conceived as a cargo plane, it lost what appears to be the opposite of a beauty contest, to the even more unsightly C5A by Lockheed.

If modeling an entire aircraft single-handedly, in a few months, as a learning exercise, sounds far-fetched, that’s because it is. Jan doesn’t claim to be modeling the whole aircraft, down to its spars, hydraulics, wiring, rivets and so on. The model is definitely simplified, an assembly of 677 solids. Jan models enough to make it look realistic from the outside while it is on the tarmac. The aircraft is a solid mass with enough detail to look real from the outside. The sheet metal shapes of the fuselage, the wings, tail, engine nacelles shine with the new plane look. Jan is careful to state that he is making no claim to the intellectual property, or is officially associated with either KLM or Boeing.

Jan has achieved an aesthetic fidelity to the real aircraft. Making the 747 look "real" was more art than science. Whereas fuselage shapes of aircraft are defined as a series of sections drawn with spline curves and then lofted together, Jan’s method entailed starting with an initial set of surfaces and then tweaking them until they “look right.” 

SolidWorks would be proud of such a model, but the fact that a student could make it is astonishing.

The 747 complete model took 4 months to create. The model files are a total of about 300MB. 

The Course

The 747 video tutorials are all online and in English. The course is composed of 30 training modules that go through the major parts of the 747 assembly, including fuselage, belly fairing, nose cone (radome), wings, etc. So much surfacing is involved that Jan is confident a passing student will also pass the Certified SolidWorks Professional Advanced Surfacing (CSWPA-SU) exam—so confident that he is willing to give vouchers for the exam as a bonus. There’s plenty of exercises with machined parts, too. You will model down to the details with the Pitot tubes and windshield wipers. Nine modules are devoted to the landing gear.

The course carries an introductory price of 397 euro (USD $440).

Jan has also modeled, and has tutorials for a yacht, a chopper (motorcycle, not the Orange County chopper commissioned by SOLIDWORKS) and an Aston Martin. 

Tools of the Trade

Jan uses several software applications besides SOLIDWORKS, including KeyShot for rendering, 3ds Max, V-ray and Adobe Photoshop. On the hardware side, he runs the applications in a custom-made desktop workstation, sometimes a laptop and also takes advantage of a rendering farm consisting of 20 workstations.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Why model a house in SOLIDWORKS? Because I can, seems to be the answer. Jan’s house in the Dutch town of Goes, exterior and interior modeled in SOLIDWORKS, was also 3D printed.

Jan lives with his wife and two kids, aged 2 and 4, in a house he not only designed using SOLIDWORKS, but 3D printed, as well. Why not use an AEC app, we wonder? I already had SOLIDWORKS and knew how to use it, Jan says. When not attending to his tutorial business, Jan commutes to Eindhoven where he has been a lead product designer for 10 years.

More about LearnSolidWorks.com and Jan-Willem Zuyderduyn at www.learnsolidworks.com.

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