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Customer Stories

27 Jul 2023

Streamlining industrial design workflows with Vvolt

Vvolt industrial designers Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen and Alex Xu gave the Gravity Sketch community an inside look into their workflow to create Vvolt’s newest electric bicycle models. Sawyer and Alex walked through how they’ve managed to streamline their design process with rapid iteration and collaboration utilizing Photoshop, Gravity Sketch, and Rhino3D.

Before Gravity Sketch, Vvolt used what they called the “typical” industrial design process: 2D product templates from multiple perspectives that designers would then sketch on top of, trying to capture their best guess of the details and dimensions.

“People were constantly second guessing what they were creating… Things like dimensions could be totally wrong but we would have no way of knowing that from a flat drawing. Whereas now, with Gravity Sketch, we have an intuitive way to interact with what we’re creating. You’re actually able to step to the side and get true perspectives and viewpoints.”

By introducing Gravity Sketch into their process Vvolt was able to speed up their workflow, while simultaneously getting more aligned and collaborative as a team. “We meet almost immediately in a Gravity Sketch collab space and we’re pushing and pulling shapes, sizes, etc. together,” says Sawyer. “It expedited our collaboration to get to presentation mode sooner since we’re working in the same space.” And beyond just the design team, other stakeholders, like marketing or technical teammates, are able to immerse themselves in the designer’s ideas all in 3D, to understand their intent from the start.

The Vvolt design workflow


Tools used: Notion

As a research-driven designer, Sawyer starts by gathering inputs from the market to inform any decisions for the e-bike. With input from questionnaires sent to 100+ people, Sawyer consolidates and shares insights in a collaborative Notion whiteboard.

Conceptualization and Ideation

Tools used: Hand Sketching -> Gravity Sketch

With research in hand, Sawyer then starts exploring ideas with traditional 2D sketching. The ideas are intentionally loose and explorative, and once a general direction starts taking shape and it’s time to start getting any other stakeholder on board, Sawyer moves directly into Gravity Sketch to start creating concepts.

bike concept idea in Gravtiy Sketch



Iteration and problem solving

Tools used: Gravity Sketch <> Rhino

Once in Gravity Sketch, Sawyer can start iterating and pushing ideas further. As Sawyer explains, “I just create a bike, mess with it a bunch until I’m stoked and I have another idea, then I just group it, duplicate it, then just start to augment it again.” With the flexibility of 3D iteration in Gravity Sketch, Sawyer and team can create a collection of iterations exploring different ways to address different needs.

Sawyer explains the power of iterating with Gravity Sketch by describing how he designed the e-bike’s front basket. “We’d run into issues with our initial prototype, so I was trying to come up with potential solutions. So I created a ton of concepts super fast in Gravity Sketch, just trying to figure stuff out within 30 minutes and communicate options. I don’t think I could ever do that with traditional sketches, but I also couldn’t whip that up in Rhino. These concepts in Gravity Sketch took 5 minutes.”

Once Sawyer creates these sketches, the team then immediately exports to Rhino to make sure the concepts have the right engineering details. With the right dimensions, the team goes back into Gravity Sketch for another round of iteration.

Rendering and leadership review

Tools used: Blender

Once the designs are ready for review and Sawyer wants to get stakeholders bought in, the team exports the OBJ files from Gravity Sketch to render them in Blender. As Sawyer explains in his interview, this helps get everyone aligned on a consistent design language and captures the “form and vibe” of the concepts.

Downstream handoff

  • To marketing: GS > Blender
  • To engineering: GS > Rhino > SolidWorks
  • To factory: GS <> SolidWorks

Once the team has rallied around the concept, it is time to get the e-bike built. The teams across Vvolt export the Gravity Sketch models to their preferred downstream softwares to make good use of the components they need.

Render of VVolt bike

The Vvolt marketing team exported the GS models to Blender to add textures and make it look photo-realistic, to showcase the e-bike in a showroom before it ever even gets built. The designers and engineers also export Gravity Sketch models to Rhino and then to Solidworks to work out the function, thickness, integrity of the frame design, and more. Those assets then get handed off to the factory, where they use the OBJ file components to build CAD software geometry. Alex Xu, who works alongside his engineering counterparts, explains, “The feedback we heard from factory partners is that the turnaround time is faster than anything they could do with 2D drawings.”

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