Hole Recognition

CAM Software

User Experience Design


Autodesk is a leading software corporation who develop software for those that wish to make things. Powermill is Computer Aided Manufacturing software which provides strategies for 3 and 5 axis subtractive and additive manufacturing. It allows the user to program, simulate and verify methods before they are actually used.

Project Rationale

Powermill cannot recognise hole types so it isn't able to automatically assign associated tools in which to drill them. Users didn’t raise it as an issue because they use competitor software in order to complete that part of the process. Powermill does have the ability to set up hole processes but in comparison to alternative products, it is significantly longer to achieve with a greater margin for error.

Stakeholder Meeting: Hole recognition process as a concept in the early stages


A series of research was conducted with key stakeholders, development teams and manufacturing engineers to establish project definition, business goals and user benefits. I was provided with practical demonstrations of Powermill and competitor software, with a focus on the pitfalls of the drilling process. Personas were generated along side scenarios to represent each user type and the specific stumbling block that is encountered during their journey; this acted as a base line to gauge design against later.

Key Requirements

  • Hole count and hole status filtering to improve visibility and reduce the need for manual inspection.
  • Repeatable processes for holes of the same type to reduce time and effort.
  • A way of sharing a database of hole types and their associated tools.
  • Automated way of identifying holes in order to minimise the manual process.

Collaborative user story mapping helped to define the scope of the project

Process flow: database selection and hole recognition triggers (automated / manual options)

Process Flow

I worked with the software engineers to establish very detailed process flows for the various use case scenarios of the hole recognition process. This supported development time estimates and helped to break down work into sprint specific areas for the teams to work on. Doing so also highlighted important system and permission dependencies that had not been considered originally.

Tag Manager

A management system was created in order to house multiple hole type databases, provide a way for users to create, read, update and delete entries and as a way of tagging and un-tagging holes. A visual representation of the hole allows the user to view and adjust the tag type in isolation of the entire model.


Once the recognition tool has been run, holes are automatically matched or unmatched against the database, as a result holes are given one of three statuses; no tag, single tag or multiple tags. A filtering system was created to allow the user to identify the hole statuses quickly, revealing those in need of manual intervention. On selection the corresponding hole is highlighted in the explorer window and on the geometry.

Autodesk is a leading software corporation, housing solutions for architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries. Specialising in Computer Aided Design, their engineering packages help manufacturers to design and create innovative products from concept to finished articles.

For more information, visit www.autodesk.co.uk