Hybrid Modelling Software Offers Freedom and Precision
Shawn Wasserman posted on March 25, 2015 |
The flexibility of organic modeling with the precision of NURBS

Benefits of Hybrid Modeling to Design

Hybrid modeling approach promotes organic & modern designs.
In the current “Macophile” market, customers are demanding their products take on a more modern and organic look. And it doesn’t stop at the latest iPhone. Packaging, and consumer products from automotive to bicycles are all getting a modern makeover. As such, engineering companies are using more industrial design techniques and technology to develop these funky organic-looking designs.

Hybrid modeling software offers the precision of NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines), surfaces, and solid modeling, with the freedom of polygonal based modeling. The results are functional, 3D printable, CAD/Simulation transferable models with a complex free flowing shape. solidThinking’s Evolve is one example.

“Evolve differs from other modeling software due to its hybrid approach using solids, surfaces, and polygonal modelling technologies,” says Darren Chilton, program manager at solidThinking. “This allows users to take simple curves and produce complex surfaces and solids. It is also different than traditional CAD as it doesn’t have the same constraints. As such, Evolve is well suited for conceptual modeling.”

When is Hybrid Modeling Beneficial to the Design Cycle?

An optimized model from Inspire.

According to Chilton, “since the geometry is based on the Parasolid kernel, the models are robust enough to be passed downstream to other geometry software for use in CAD, simulation, 3D Printing, and CAM. This allows engineers to take the model from concept to manufacturing.”

Evolve’s hybrid modeling system isn’t trying to be the solution for every problem. “If you are designing very mechanical products where aesthetics are not playing a major role, or you’re designing large assemblies, then using a traditional CAD tool may be more efficient,” Chilton explains. “This is why we are partnered with Solidworks as a plug-in to the Dassault Systemes software. And since they share the Parasolids kernel, it is easy to read in and write out the native models.”

The ability to use polygonal modeling for use in CAM and 3D printing is attracting a lot of engineering companies. “This has provided design teams a way to model quickly and organically,” says Chilton. “The organic models also allow engineers to create models with less stress points by using more natural transitions and fillets.”

To assist in creating even more efficient models, users can link their Evolve design to solidThinking’s Inspire simulation optimization software.

The optimization functions assist in the light weighting of the design. It uses FEA analysis to determine which areas of the model require less or more material to withstand the load.

Small File Size despite Construction History & Rendering

Construction History
The model construction history allows users to quickly find and edit surface trims, Boolean functions, and any other operation performed on the model. The tool also assists in reconstructions and keeps track of design alterations.

“The changes performed on the model are made in real time,” explained Chilton. “And even though the whole construction process is recorded, the files remain small. I have seen a motor cycle design, and car exterior design that were both less than 15 MB.”

Image rendering available within Evolve.

He added: “This small size even includes the rendering of the model which is all done internally in Evolve.”

Chilton explained that the new rendering technology works under the hood and it is coupled with a redesigned UI which improves the accessibility of the workflow. Users select the material of each object and surface from an internal library. The user then choses between three rendering engines: performance, progressive and full photo-realism.

To speed up the rendering process, users can assign the CPU and GPU to the computation.

“I’m using a graphics card that is not supported for GPU rendering. However, I still notice an increase of speed when using the GPU for my renderings,” Chilton shares.

Polygonal Modeling

Polygonal based Modeling before (left) and after (right).
Polygonal based modeling will be available in the 2015 release of Evolve. The technique uses rough box shapes that are then converted into smooth continuous NURBS curvatures. From that point, the new surface can be altered using classic surface, solid, and NURBS techniques. This method to convert the model has been dubbed Nurbify.

“Until now it was rare to see the use of all three modelling techniques simultaneously,” says Chilton. “The ability now to use them all in the construction history is particularly useful. This allows for changes to update automatically for all three techniques independent of which of the three is being used at that moment.”

Chilton explained that the Polygonal technique is traditionally used by the entertainment industry where they don’t have to worry about manufacturing. “The entertainment industry will often use STL and OBJ files that do not include surface geometry. However, Evolve is able to convert these models into surface or solid geometry that can be saved in various file formats to be used by other engineering software and operations.”

Users can also utilize 3D scans to create a model. “Depending on the complexity, you could use planar clouds from a point cloud to create a model,” says Chilton. “However with the Nurbify ability, it is also possible to read in an STL file and create the NURBS surfaces in one click.”

Though still in Beta, Evolve has attracted many engineering firms to try the software. Chilton expressed that many of these Beta users are interested in adding it to their process. To find out more about Evolve follow this link.

Altair solidThinking has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine. Shawn Wasserman

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