Delcam is extending the range of triangle modelling options within its Powershape Pro CAD software to create a more comprehensive Tribrid modelling system. Tribrid modelling enables CAD models to be created from solids, surfaces and triangles and therefore offers a more complete design approach than hybrid modelling using just solids and surfaces.
The main applications of the new version of Powershape are expected to be in the medical area, since most data from medical scanners is generated as triangle files, both when creating internal prostheses and when manufacturing external customised aids like orthotics. Haptic arms and similar sculpting devices also produce triangle files, so Powershape Pro will be able to combine designs from this equipment with extra solid or surface data, for example when producing moulds from the sculpted models.
A key addition in the new release is the ability to undertake Boolean operations between pairs of triangle files, or between triangle models and solids or surfaces. Delcam claims that Powershape Pro was one of very few CAD systems able to perform Boolean operations between solids and surfaces. The ability to combine all three file types makes the software even more flexible. The new release can also offset triangle files, making it possible to add thickness to a scanned surface.
New functionality provides a considerable expansion of the previous ability to add triangle files of logos, branding, textures or other 3D decorations onto the surfaces of Powershape Pro models. This effect is rather like sliding a transfer over the surface of an object, although it gives the added advantages that the decoration can be scaled or stretched to fit any given area and that the result will be fully three-dimensional. Tribrid modelling enables all three forms to interact within any design, limited only by the user's imagination.
The other main development focus has been on improving the software's ease of use. This becomes apparent as soon as the user starts to sketch the outline of any new design. The Intelligent Cursor both speeds and simplifies geometry creation by giving constant feedback, automatically highlighting items such as the centre-points of lines and circles, plus any potential intersections between lines.
An outline sketch can be converted into a fully-surfaced model using Delcam's Smart Surfacing technology, which the company claims to be unique. Like other CAD systems, Powershape Pro provides a number of alternative methods for constructing a surface from a given set of lines, arcs or points. With Smart Surfacing, the choice of method is made automatically by the software to give the best possible surface. If the user is unhappy with the automatic selection, or is simply curious to see other options, he can scroll through the alternative solutions.
One of the most impressive features of Smart Surfacing is that the software's choice of surfacing method is updated automatically when extra information is added to the selection. As any additional lines or points are selected, the chosen surfacing method is reviewed and the surface regenerated if an alternative method has become more appropriate.
Any set of surfaces can be converted into a finished model with a variety of powerful and reliable filleting and blending commands. The user simply needs to specify the desired fillet radius and the software will show a series of tracks where fillets of that size will fit. Some or all of the possible fillets can then be created with a single command. In Powershape Pro, even variable-radius fillets and intersecting or overlapping fillets can be created quickly and easily.
Chris Lawrie, Powershape product manager, says: "The addition of triangle modelling represents another significant development for Powershape Pro. It adds even more flexibility to a design system that was already one of the most powerful products for the creation of complex shapes in a fully-detailed 3D format. It really does open infinite possibilities to the creative designer."
For more information, visit www.powershape.com