The Trend Towards Solid Modeling

Published: 17th January 2009
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Solid Modeling is the representation of solid parts of an object, that is, models of solid objects suitable for computer processing. 3D solid modeling is used in computer-aided design (CAD), engineering analysis, computer graphics, medical testing, product visualization and scientific research.

There are many ways to create solid modeling. These include sweeping, boundary representation, spatial occupancy enumeration, cellular decomposition, functional representation, feature-based modeling, parametric modeling and facet modeling.

Solid modeling offers great tools for preparing models for manufacturing. These include automated surfacing tools for creating parting surfaces, deleting features from import solid models, the ability to cut a solid with another solid or parting surface, generation of silhouette curves for parting curves, and automated tools for mold cavity separation.

Because of its many advantages, 3D solid modeling has been replacing 2D modeling over the past few years. The realistic depiction of objects is a big advantage for manufacturers, allowing them to see how a product functions without actually spending time and money actually creating it. Another advantage of solid modeling is that product design can be changed frequently to ensure that it's flawless, thereby improving efficiency.

In a solid model, a group of features is added one at a time until the model is complete. Engineering solid models are built mostly with sketcher-based features -- 2-D sketches that are swept along a path to become 3-D. Another type of modeling technique is 'surfacing' (freeform surface modeling). In this technique, surfaces are defined, trimmed and merged, and filled to make solid. The surfaces are usually defined with datum curves in space and a variety of complex commands. Surfacing is more difficult, but better applicable to some manufacturing techniques, like injection molding.

Apart from the manufacturing sector, 3D Solid Modeling is also used in the entertainment sector, for animation. Computer-generated characters, for example, involve parametric modeling.

Solid modeling is also used in the medical sector. Computed axial tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scanners can be used to create solid models of internal body features. Optical 3D scanners can be used to create point clouds or polygon mesh models of external body features.

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