9 Replies Latest reply on Oct 23, 2015 11:23 AM by Troy Starkey

    True texture on parts surface

    Brian Hoerner



      I asked this question in a different way, hopefully this will clarify and I can get some feedback.


      Does anyone put actual texture on your parts prior to sending them to tooling?


      I am being asked to replicate carbon fiber texture so that our toolmaker can lazer etch it onto plastic...as an example.






        • Re: True texture on parts surface
          Deepak Gupta

          I've never done that for drawings but had been adding a note for finish. I'm surprised though that they want you to put it on the model (and now I'm thinking on the file size, rebuild time, file corrupting, etc.)


          If you don't have too many of them then I would say create a master model and ask them to use that as reference fr various finish types.

            • Re: True texture on parts surface
              Brian Hoerner

              Yeh, agreed, I don't like the idea, but was asked to check into others doing this.


              My guess is that what they saw was a decal or something that "described" what was wanted, and was assumed it was actual texture.


              Large texture type on large surfaces fine, not small parts with small details like this.  This comes up every few years, and usually goes away eventually, but want to do due diligence.


              Thanks Deepak!

            • Re: True texture on parts surface
              Troy Starkey

              Hi Brian,


              Yes I do that all the time.  We often have complex product designs with very specific patterns and textures in certain areas that we design.  Then we need to make nice realistic prototypes of those, with the textures in them. So yes, the textures have to be actually there as real physical geometry in the model.  Not just some spec on a drawing or as a faked texture map in a rendering. Also, in many cases we have designed the texture itself, and so it does not exist as some mold-tech thing we can select from a book.  We have to make the real texture on the model and send that to the manufacturer for machining.


              Now for the sad part...no we don't do that sort of thing directly in SolidWorks because it's not possible.  Sorry. SolidWorks does not have the kind of tools needed to wrap actual complex texture geometry onto a 3D surface.  For that we use other software, namely ArtCAM and DelCAM Powershape as a combo. ArtCAM creates the texture.  Then DelCAM Powershape wraps that texture onto the imported CAD model we built in SolidWorks.  The drawback to this is that the final model is a combo mesh and CAD file in one.  And that can't be imported back into SolidWorks.  However, there are now more programs coming available that can convert mesh geometry back into real nurbs surface geometry, and thus into a format you can bring back into SolidWorks.


              I never said it was an easy process!


              Here are some other products I know of that can do some level of texture wrapping onto CAD files:

              Rhino 3D (results are limited, and difficult to get what you really want)

              ZW3D (looks promising, though maybe more limited than the ArtCAM/DelCAM process we use)

              Freeform (this is probably the most powerful package out there for this sort of really complex work, and also the most expensive)

              • Re: True texture on parts surface
                Chris Dordoni



                I don't have SolidWorks 2015 or 2016 to try out the patterning functions ... I've heard there was a significant improvement. Carbon fiber is weave pattern, like cloth, so its possible you could model a fairly simple element, or elements, and apply it across an entire surface?


                Patterning aside, texturing and nurbs don't tend to work well together. Troy mentioned being able to combine a mesh for the texturing along with the cad model, but I think that is very rare for a tool/mold maker to accept a mesh.


                One difficulty with generating a texture in a mesh and then converting it to nurbs is the smoothing, and that could erase or minimize any texture in the mesh.


                Its possible that PowerSurfacing might work for for texturing, my trial expired before I was able to do any testing with that. PowerSurfacing lets you define crease, or "hard" edges in the mesh, so when they get converted to nurbs, they don't get smoothed out as much.

                  • Re: True texture on parts surface
                    Troy Starkey

                    You can certainly manually model pretty complex patterns in SolidWorks.  I've done that quite a bit.  It's time consuming, but is the best way for a very specific geometric pattern.  However, there are some textures, especially when they are very complex and/or randomized in nature that you are just never in a million years going to manually model. These are the types of things I was focusing on in this discussion.


                    We have PowerSurfacing. I use it a lot.  Yes that is one of the things I was referring to when talking about re-converting mesh back into nurbs surfaces.  However, for tiny detailed complex textures it doesn't work all that well.  The SolidWorks Premium version includes something called Scan to 3D.  I've used that with very limited success at converting textures back into nurbs, but not great results either.  PowerSurfacing was faster, and easier, but the scan to 3D has more options and control and might yield better results if you spend the time with it.  The Scan to 3D is a light weight version of the more powerful software that comes with the NextEngine 3D Scanner; NextEngine 3D Laser Scanner

                    That software would probably deal with small complex textures a bit better than what's built into SolidWorks. 


                    Then there are the various other conversion software that come with other major 3D scanners (you can buy the software separately in all of these cases).  Geomagic (owned by 3D systems) makes a couple different software packages for converting scanned meshes into nurbs. In all these programs you can open a mesh format and convert it.  You don't have to actually scan anything.  Geomagic/3D Systems also no owns that Freeform sculpting software I previously mentioned.  That one is extremely impressive at both allowing you to create and control complex textures, and also converting the result into a nurbs CAD model.  But again, only the top level version of that software does the converting to CAD bit, and it is pretty pricey!

                      • Re: True texture on parts surface
                        Brian Hoerner

                        Hey Troy,


                             Good feedback, thanks!  From standard CAD tools, I understand the difficulty and process, or lack of ability to manage data of the level of detail they want.


                             The other tools I am somewhat familiar with, used before for other surface development, so understand that as well.


                             Really looking to see how others are managing this process, so all good information!!!


                             Two other systems i am looking into are Maxon and 3D Coat, but want to talk with them directly.  Still third party apps that would not go well back into normal CAD engineering tools.




                             Another question for you, as other iterations happen on the CAD files, you need to redo the textures, so how is that managed?  You just do it and say its part of the process, or other thoughts?


                        Thanks again, great discussion!


                          • Re: True texture on parts surface
                            Chris Dordoni

                            @ Troy,


                            Thanks for that, its always good to get info direct from users rather. PowerSurfacing looks like a good tool, although it does not seem well suited for the texturing.


                            @ Brian


                            I posted in this thread a while back ...

                            Re: Creating a low poly texture


                            If you did not have to fill a large area, a triangulated model could be imported as a Solid Body. The limitation is about 15,000 triangles. This method is more suited to textures with a tooth. If the triangles were small, and the angles were relatively shallow it might work out ok, but you would only get a few square inches before you hit the limit.

                            • Re: True texture on parts surface
                              Troy Starkey

                              Yes, unfortunately in the process we use with ArtCAM/DelCAM, you do have to re-apply the texture every time the design changes.  On the plus side though, it's not really a difficult process, and once you figure out all the right settings for the texture the first time around, it's then just a matter of quickly re-entering all those values the second time around.  It's kind-of like rendering, where once you figure out all the right settings for something, you can pretty quickly and easily apply those same settings to another model.