Plug-in imports organic surfaces into CAD

Sept. 6, 2012
The ramifications for a new plug-in called Power SubD-Nurbs for the rendering and surface-modeling package modo may not be readily apparent, but they could change the industry

Authored by:
Paul McCrorey
Owner/President McCrorey Digital
Louisville, Ky.

McCrorey Digital
Edited by Leslie Gordon
[email protected]
Twitter @ LeslieGordon

The ramifications for a new plug-in called Power SubD-Nurbs for the rendering and surface-modeling package modo may not be readily apparent, but they could change the industry.

Luxology, Mountain View, Calif., the firm that developed modo, worked closely with SolidWorks, Waltham, Mass., to connect two vastly different modeling worlds: the CAD world, which uses nonuniform rational basis spline (Nurbs) modeling, and the entertainment world, which uses subdivision surface (SDS) modeling. The CAD world’s focus is to “make things real.” The entertainment world’s focus is to make things “look real.”

Designers have discovered that there are advantages to modeling organic surfaces in modo. Power SubD-Nurbs provides an efficient pipeline between the applications, thereby giving CAD users access to the organic-surfacing capabilities of an SDS modeler. The plug-in lets users import organic surfaces into SolidWorks.

Power SubD-Nurbs gives users an intuitive surfacing tool in SDS. SDS modeling supports the modeling of swoopyshaped surfaces. It can create these shapes because, under the hood, it extrapolates and interprets between points to form organic, smooth shapes.

Users simply create designs with modo as the SDS modeler. The plug-in works with modo’s Save-As command and presents a variety of CAD-friendly output formats such as SAT, IGES, STP, or 3DM (Rhino). With this plug-in, users can bring other surface files into SolidWorks including the open and popular “Wavefront” (OBJ) format. With all of the OBJ models on the Internet, users can access a number of resources to augment designs.

Currently, designers must be proficient at surfacing in CAD when organic shapes are needed. Trouble is, CAD packages fall short when it comes to modeling medium and higher-complex surfaces. And CAD tools for surfacing are not intuitive. The result is usually either long design times or less-than-optimum designs.

The new plug-in gives designers a more direct and intuitive way to access models. For instance, modo tools work on surfaces just like sculpting clay. Tools “dissolve” into the background, letting designers more effectively create designs and modify them efficiently.

When designers understand the power of SDS modeling combined with the ability to import data into Solid- Works, the adoption rate will certainly increase. The immediate application is for designers who deal with ergonomic interfaces.

To help potential users understand the new plug-in, I created workflow tutorials at A visualization section shows a tank and motorcycle being imported back into modo. The tutorials take users through a detailed look at subdivision surface modeling in modo, adaptation of models for manufacture in SolidWorks, and visualization back in modo.

The plug-in comes from Luxology LLC, 2525 East Charleston Rd., Suite 104, Mountain View, CA 94043, (650) 336- 1380

© 2012 Penton Media, Inc.

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