Assembly in Action / Columns

Assembly in Action: Manufacturer and 3D Mice Make Beautiful Music Together

March 1, 2012

Renowned for its studio- and stage-standard gear, Line 6 invented digital guitar amp modeling technology in 1996, and is a leading developer of guitar amps used worldwide by pros and hobbyists alike. The Calabasas, CA, company also makes other music-creation products, including bass amps, guitars, effects and effects processors, stompbox pedals and recording interfaces.

For several years, engineers at Line 6 have used SolidWorks CAD software, in conjunction with a SpacePilot PRO 3D mouse, to design instruments and related gear. Each engineer spends an average of five to six hours a day designing and testing new products.

Most recently, Dale Wagler, Line 6’s lead industrial designer, and the rest of the engineering team designed the Relay G-series digital guitar wireless system used by Steve Stevens (who plays with Billy Idol), Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow’s guitarist) and Sarah McLaughlin.

The team also designed the latest generation of Variax modeling guitars for James Tyler Guitars. A modeling guitar is able to emulate the tones of other notable electric and acoustic guitars, as well as stringed instruments like a banjo and a sitar.

Wagler leads the product-concept stage and then works closely with the engineering team to finalize the working design. He says the SpacePilot PRO 3D mouse, which is made by 3Dconnexion, has improved error detection, design efficiency and overall productivity.

“I can move around a model and rotate an assembly with greater ease as if I’m holding it in my hand,” says Wagler. “Not having to stop what I’m doing and click and drag, and scroll the wheel, is a big benefit. You can do these things with a standard mouse, but they’re not as sure-fire.”

Key features on the SpacePilot PRO include a six-degrees-of-freedom sensor, controller cap, and navigation and rotation keys. The 3D mouse also provides users standard and isometric views of their working models on screen.

Capable of detecting input as small as 4 micrometers, the sensor allows smooth and intuitive 3D navigation. Users can push, pull, twist or tilt the controller cap to pan, zoom in and rotate the model.

QuickView navigation keys provide one-touch access to 32 standard views. Isometric views are possible with the ISO1 and ISO2 buttons. The ISO1 button shows the model with the top, front and right sides facing front. ISO2 shows the model with the top, back and left sides facing front.

There also are 90-degree rotation and navigation setting keys. Users can rotate the model view 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise. Navigation setting keys let users restrict navigation to certain axes. For example, when creating 2D sketches of 3D profiles, it is useful to be able to pan and zoom but not rotate the view.

“I had to work without a 3D mouse for a couple of weeks and it was like working in quick sand,” says Wagler. “I didn’t realize just how much I relied on it until I didn’t have it.”

For more information on 3D mice, call 800-344-1609 or visit

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