CAD Tip of the Month: Subdivision

January 17th, 2017

Tip Level: Intermediate

The subdivision tool, which is a part of the new quad mesh tool palette, is one of the most useful 3D modeling features in ViaCAD Pro and Shark.

Essentially, the subdivision tool is used to take the 3D objects and models you’ve created using our meshing tools and smooth out their surfaces and edges. This process gives your designs a more finished and clean look. These finished subdivided meshes are compatible with 3D printing, conversion to solids, rendering, and animation.

When using subdivision modeling, our CAD software represents a smooth surface using a simple, low polygon count defined by control points. In the image below you can see a block mesh with four points. This object is subdivided three times, each time making the edges of the mesh smoother.

A great example of this process can be found in the video below. This concept to creation of a 3D spoon, which you can find the tutorial for here, shows you how to take a cube you’ve created in ViaCAD pro or Shark and turn it into the head of a spoon using the subdivision tool.

Subdivision won’t take up a large amount of your time when you’re creating 3D designs, in fact if you know how to use it effectively it is the quickest way to take an abstract creation and turn it into a finished product.

The next video, which takes you through the process of making a coffee cup using mesh tools, shows again how easy it is to use subdivision in your projects. At around the three minute mark you can see the process of turning a 15 sided cylinder into what instantly looks like the main body of a coffee mug.


As well as being extremely useful in basic projects, subdivision is a tool used in the most complex digital worlds. Subdivision meshes are popular in film and animation where very large scenes are composed of low polygon counts that render at high resolutions using subdivision. Companies such as Pixar have successfully used subdivision meshes since 1996 and continue to play an important role in their development.

Regardless of the difficulty of your project, our subdivision modeling tool will prove to be useful and is another reason PunchCAD software is the perfect choice for your next 3D project.

CAD Project of the Month: 3D Spoon Tutorial

January 6th, 2017

While it’s unlikely that every 3D designer’s lifelong ambition is to create a 3D spoon masterpiece, we do know everyone has to start with the basics. Hence, a simple, but highly effective 3D tutorial perfect for CAD beginners.

The first half of the video below takes you through the easy process of creating a 3D model using only a couple simple tools. The second half of the video, which we’ll be diving into next month, shows how you can take the 3D design you’ve created using our CAD software and turn it into a printed 3D model.

Much of this project can be completed using the Mesh and Subdivision tools native to ViaCAD 2D/3D and ViaCAD Pro.

The project starts you off right away using the mesh block tool to create the cube your spoon’s head will be formed from (take advantage of the data entry window to maximize accuracy).

  1. Using the gripper tool you can push/pull  the shapes you’ve created, and you can build the spoon handle by simply pulling out the center cube of the object. Make sure to use the select deep tool and to hold the ctrl key while push/pulling. This ensures you’re targeting the cube you want instead of manipulating the entire side.

Bonus Tip – It’s useful to have your Inspector Box open throughout this project – it’s located below the top menu on the right side of the screen.

  1. After this basic spoon shape is made, click ‘view’ in the top menu and select ‘front’ to change your view.
  2. Next you can use non-uniform scaling, which you can find in the inspector box, to increase or decrease the size of your 3D spoon’s head. You can also change the size of the neck separately, which will initially change with the rest of the spoon head.
  3. To start rounding the edges of your spoon you will again use the scaling tool. Select every corner of your spoon head while holding the shift key and, with uniform scaling selected, scale toward the center of the shape. You should start seeing the corners rounding off.
  4. Once you’ve selected the two points of your spoon head and extended them to your liking, switch back to ‘isometric view’, which is listed in the view dropdown.

Bonus tip – We find this view to be very useful when looking at 3D drawings and designs, and we recommend to everyone who uses our CAD software to play around with the different views to find what works best for them.

  1. From here, you want to click the subdivision tool and select your shape. In the video, we subdivide our spoon three times, which rounds off the 3D model perfectly. To make additional changes like deepening the bowl of your spoon head, lengthening the handle, etc. you can toggle subdivision and control facets on and off (using the ‘T’ key on your keyboard) so you can precisely make changes to your object.

So there you have it! Stay tuned next month for another post where we dive into the rest of the video and show you how to 3D print your ViaCAD creations using Shapeways and other 3D printing software.

 

3D Scanning: Preserving our Past, Presenting our Future

December 20th, 2016

From photographs, to building floorplans, to HDRI images, artists, technicians, and designers have always been adjusting and improving our tools and methods to capture and improve the world around us. With the addition of 3D technology, particularly 3D scanning, point cloud processing, and printing, we now have the ability to obtain surface and physical data of our surrounding environment, and use tools and software to manipulate and exhibit the realities of our past, present, and future.

A Look into the Past

3D scanning has provided insight into the restoration and preservation of ancient artifacts and historical landmarks. Organizations such as CyArk & The Smithsonian have been leaders in embracing these new technologies and pushing the boundary of application in regards to what 3D scanning can provide in respect to restoration, research, and the education of the general public.

CyArk’s mission is to ensure that the world’s cultural heritage sites are available to future generations by creating a free, 3D online library of the sites before they are lost to time, natural disasters, or destroyed by war.

The 3D image below is that of the Rani ki Vav, and it has a fascinating story: Translated as “The Queen’s Stepwell,” it is the most intricate of all of India’s Stepwells. Stepwells are a rather unique form of underground water storage systems on the Indian subcontinent and have been constructed since the third millennium BC. Rani ki vav was built as an inverted temple, has seven levels of stairs, and holds over 500 principle sculptures.

Rani Ki Vav

And now you can virtually visit and learn more about this amazing and UNESCO protected stepwell via CyArk.com.

Present Day Fun and Profit

Fast forward from our first moon landing to our present-day tech scape; the accessibility to apps and equipment is incredible. Only a few years ago, Microsoft Kinect technology had the population dumfounded and now, fast forward, you have technology retailers coming out with their own 3D scanning and virtual reality equipment. It’s not even a monopoly – you literally have the option as a buyer of whether to buy a 3D scanner via Windows 10 that can be incorporated into your phone, or if you’re a die-hard Apple veteran, as an app for your iPad. This accessibility is so robust that it gives users the ability to seek new bounds and diverse uses of the technology, while driving the market forward through competitive innovation.

The upgrade of tools and practice to the design and manufacturing trade have inspired the design-driven and business-minded alike to re-evaluate all parts of their respective pipelines and shape the way design and marketing is done in today’s retail and residential business.

Given the future direction of VR and the shopping experience, as well as the demand for 3D assets in those environments, 3D scanning will play an integral role in reducing the cost, time, and scope of creating these interactive landscapes.

Shifting from the retail market and into the residential sector, the accessibility of 3D scanning has also shaken up the practices of interior designers, architects and contractors. Even the DIY & hobbyist communities are getting involved. The days of cross-eyed examination of plans, elevations, and patched photographs to recreate a conceptual space have long passed, and now with the convenience of a commercial mobile scanner, you have the ability to gather point cloud data of an entire room in your home to then modify with prospective home redecorating and renovation projects. Needless to say, I’m sure the demand for the ability to “CTRL + Z” during home improvement projects will have this new technology significantly supported and financially backed.

On a smaller more practical level, this technology is equally interesting. Imagine the possibilities of scanning an antique architectural detail or a damaged hard-to-find auto part, fixing it in your favorite 3D CAD program (hint, hint) and then 3D printing a physical representation of it. The applications are nearly endless.

 

The Future is Here.

There are also countless stories about 3D’s role in ergonomic prosthetics, orthopedics, and dental work, accelerating into even more complex and impressive roles in the realms of medicine and internal surgeries, including the 3D scanning and libraries of hearts and related organs. Now as the medical field continues to push forward in this technology and shape the way our bodies run on the inside, the “aesthetic” driven business, i.e. elective surgeries and cosmetics are following suit.

One profile of a cosmetic medical practice is Dr. Yakup Avşar, founder of AVSAR Aesthetic Surgery Clinic in Istanbul, Turkey. He had previously developed surgery previews of his clients as hand sculpted masks. However, with the introduction of 3D scanning and printing, he’s been able to reduce his labor time, production cost, and environmental impact while simultaneously increasing his clientele’s confidence by providing a significantly more accurate preview as well as variations and options.

We understand that 3D scanning your face for potential improvement may not be appealing to everyone, but it’s another data point to show the potential of 3D scanning and printing for altruism, commerce, and even feeling better about yourself. What’s not to like about that?