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02 December 2009

New Form- Finding Process in automotive design through 3D sketching

During the Autodesk Automotive Days 2009 in Munich, Technicon Design together with the company Geomagic were given the opportunity to present a new innovative method from the field of virtual product development.

The principal idea of this new method is to create design sketches already in 3D in order to then quickly generate clean surface data models from these designs. As a basis we used a design sketch, made in the conventional and “old-school way” on paper.

When sketching with Autodesk Maya in 3D one creates base volumes, which can then be used to quickly express the 3-dimensional proportions and shape of an object. An important factor during this process is that one works with a closed object which can be shaped to incorporate the various design features, while keeping all the while a holistic view of the model.

A poly-model created in this way also offers the opportunity to change proportions through interactive morphing. These changes can be directed via an analogue or digital interface so that decision makers without the relevant software knowledge will be able to make alterations to a vehicle easily and express their ideas.

“How does the vehicle look with a different windscreen angle?” How does a change of the base layout effect the front of the vehicle?” or “How does a change in fan tail effect the overall image of the vehicle?”

However, in order to incorporate the result into industrial work-flows, we do not require a polygon model but a Bezier or Nurbs data model.

The company Geomagic offers a new software solution which allows the transformation of polygon data into a Nurbs model in a short span of time and at the same time already makes allowances for the surface layout needed for the next step. The so-called Patch-Layout is drawn directly onto the polygon skin in order to differentiate primary and secondary surfaces. At the end one has the option to either express the model in a filleted way or with character lines.

This result can now already be used for analysis or basic construction work in CAD programs like UG, CATIA or Autodesk Inventor. It is however not suitable for the high definition surfaces required in the design process.
The previously described Geomagic surface layout significantly shortens the process of creating mathematically exact (Class A) surface models from the data. We achieve this with the help of Autodesk Alias and the creation of Geomagic Nurbs surfaces in about 50% of the usual time needed to create Class A surfaces. In the last step the necessary fillets are introduced into the surface model built “on edge”. The model generated in this way is a high quality Early Cubing model that can easily be changed in Alias and is ready for further development processes.

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