(Polyn)urban Renewal

Author Michael C. Anderson
September 01, 2016 - 10:15am

In the age of lightweighting and cost-cutting, components are regularly being designed and redesigned to give them optimal weight and strength in the fewest possible manufacturing steps. The 2016 version of solidThinking Inc.’s Inspire design-optimization software features a new PolyNURBS tool kit that allows part designers and engineers to create free-form solid geometry that is smooth and continuous by wrapping topology results with NURBS geometry. Users can then flow optimized designs into products that can be 3D-printed. 

Models in Inspire 2016 show a component designed for strength (left), with optimized geometry (middle) and the final design model (right). Image courtesy solidThinking.
Models in Inspire 2016 show a component designed for strength (left), with optimized geometry (middle) and the final design model (right). Image courtesy solidThinking.

NURBS (nonuniform rational B-splines) is a mathematical model often used in computer-graphics programs for generating and representing curves and surfaces. NURBS curves offer flexibility and precision for modeling both analytic and free-form shapes. NURBS surfaces are created from NURBS curves and are a function of two parameters mapped to a surface in 3D space. NURBS surfaces are capable of representing any desired shape, with the surface determined by its control points.

PolyNURBS combine the ease and simplicity of polygon mesh modeling with the precision and flexibility of NURBS. A PolyNURBS object represents geometry as a NURBS surface surrounded by a transparent polymesh cage. The shape of the PolyNURBS object is the result of the modifications made to the cage, which can be manipulated using the cage’s faces, edges and vertices. When users exit the PolyNURBS tool, the cage is hidden and they see only the PolyNURBS object. 

“Our new PolyNURBS tool set is a game changer, allowing users to create geometry from optimized results much faster than traditional CAD modeling,” stated solidThinking Program Manager Andy Bartels. “The result is an incredibly robust tool that has not only expanded the use cases for Inspire, but also accelerates the path to cost-effective manufacturing.”

For more information about solidThinking Inc., Troy, Mich., visit www.solidthinking.com/Inspire2016.html or call (248) 526-1920.

Related Glossary Terms

  • computer-aided design ( CAD)

    computer-aided design ( CAD)

    Product-design functions performed with the help of computers and special software.

  • nonuniform rational B-splines ( NURBS)

    nonuniform rational B-splines ( NURBS)

    Type of curve or surface for which the difference between successive knots (parameter values) need not be expressed in uniform increments of 1. See B-spline.


Former Senior Editor

Michael Anderson, former senior editor at Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, holds a master's degree in written communication from Eastern Michigan University. He has been professionally writing about manufacturing technology since 1998, including more than 10 years at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.