Modeler Gets The Surfaces Right

Dec. 9, 2004
OneSpace Designer Modeling is a simple to learn-and-use 3D CAD program.

Modeler gets the surfaces right

A Smooth Surface tool is used on an original Zeiss part. New functions in Design Modeling improve freeform surfaces developed in previous versions of the software.

A designer is stretching a part with guidance from CoPilot. This preview makes it easy to visualize complicated proposed geometry changes with a quick selection of design-intent faces.

Zebra surface analysis, new in Designer Modeling 2005, lets users inspect a model's surface for face-toface continuity. In this example, both parts have constant zebra stripes that run from one face to the next. An offset or slight step in a zebra stripe would indicate a poor quality face-to-face connection.

We use it along with its add-on modules for surfacing, sheet-metal, and FE analysis to design ophthalmology products. The modeler fits our concurrent-product development processes that require working on each other's designs. The modeler is said to be history-free, so designers don't need to know how models were constructed to change them. Engineers need the flexibility to make designs better, and limitations created by history-trees are simply inefficient.

The modeler, released in October, has too many enhancements to cover in detail, so we'll focus on several features that apply directly to our day-to-day work. Take the Guided Loft, for example. It's a new way of creating free-form parts using a 3D "spine" that guides shape creation. The spine acts as a pathway through multiple planes and the loft takes only a few steps to create a complex shape. The cross-section of the model is rapidly defined along the spine so you can design a circle at one end and a square at the other.

Just after the upgrade, we had to redesign a cooling duct. Because the redesign was post-production, it had to snake the duct around several different components in the product.

Without the upgraded modeler, I would have had to go through many design iterations to generate the duct. The guided loft feature minimized the number of iterations simply because it's easy to design complex paths with precision and confidence. The guided loft let us quickly and accurately create what is in our mind and makes the process more intuitive.

Improved surface skinning has become sophisticated enough to cover an "open mesh" — one not fully enclosed by four boundaries but only by two. Also, the boundaries need not be planar. They can be positioned across different 2D profiles and referenced from 3D edges. Prior to the upgrade, skinning a surface required a completely enclosed mesh.

This feature is important to design work because symmetry may be inappropriate and unwanted. The flexibility offered by the new skinning feature means we can define parts with more free-form shapes and improved usability. Lofting and skinning lets us quickly predict how new parts or designs will look, with the software doing a lot more work.

The CoPilot, a feature introduced in the previous version, provides onscreen guidance. It lets engineers view and understand changes being made before clicking "OK" and starting a rebuild. The 2005 version offers more visual interaction with commands, and without having to execute and then undo them because they are not quite right.

CoPilot also assists with dynamic moves by letting users more easily understand what plane a 3D element is moving into or across. In addition, it can be challenging when working with tangents to shape an element just right. But previewing the proposed change before making it lets you decide whether the choice was good or bad, and act accordingly.

Video-based documentation and training is now standard. Online Help & Support includes a growing collection of instructional videos that explain some of the difficult concepts of designing in 3D and how to deal with them in Designer Modeling. And lastly, the licensing system for the modeler has been improved. This will help CAD system administrators because managing licenses was complicated using previous methods.

OneSpace Designer Modeling comes from CoCreate Software Inc., 3801 Automation Way, Suite 110, Fort Collins, CO 80525, (970) 267-8400, The software carries a list of $6,320 for a perpetual license and $1,390 per year for support and upgrades. It can also be purchased on an annual-subscription basis for $2,780 per license per year, which includes upgrades and support.

Chris Wing
Chris Wing is a senior designer with Carl Zeiss Meditec in Dublin, Calif.

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