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A Study of the Relationship between the Performance of CAD Solid Modeling and Spatial Ability
Conventionally, engineering graphics is based on the orthography and presents an real object with the abstract and planr multi-views to describe the shape and dimension. Nowadays, the 3D CAD in the domain of engineering and manufacturing, which is based on the technique of solid modeling, is constructing a 3D virtual model with software directly. While the model was completed, all of the desired graphics will be generated automatically. Due to the excellent visual effect and various availability of 3D solid model, the CAD database also becomes the key factor of concurrent engineering. Therefore, the application and popularity of CAD, not only changing the process of engineering design and manufacture, but also altering the way of graphic communication, as well as the design thinking of engineers. There is an intimate connection between the investigation of graphics and visualization. Traditionally, the ability of visualization is very important and possesses high correlation and predictability in many scientific disciplines which require communication with graphics as well as various professional and technological tasks which rely on spatial ability. Most researchers believed that spatial ability could be improved significantly through the learning and training of engineering graphics. Since 3D CAD is becoming the central media of graphic expression, it is very important to probe whether the definition, components and measurement of traditional spatial ability might required revision or not. This paper is aimed at the investigation of the relationship between the performance of 3D solid modeling and graphic communication as well as spatial visualization. For these purposes, this study adopted a mixed-method approach. The first stage was an exploratory design, which was done mainly by way of interviews with experts and case observation. The findings and results were to be referred to for the instructional experiment in the next step. The second stage was an experimental design of nonequivalent pretest-posttest, which was used to explain the findings of the first stage. Concretely speaking, the conclusions of this paper are as follows: 1) CAD is changing the way of conventional graphic communication; 2) the concept and required mental skills between 3D solid modeling and traditional engineering graphics are totally different; 3) the skill of visual parsing and mental composing are the principal competence of solid modeling; 4) the learning and manipulating of 3D solid model are beneficial to the spatial visualization; and 5) the skill of visual parsing and mental composing are the primary factors that affect the performance of solid modeling.
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