5 Replies Latest reply on Jan 29, 2016 7:15 PM by Chris Dordoni

    Trying to Untangle CAD / Sub-D Workflow...

    Sloan Anderson

      Hello all,


      I'm curious if anybody out there has found an "ideal" solution for somewhat seamlessly collaborating between folks in a CAD environment and those using 3D / sub-D packages like 3DS Max or Maya? We have countless scenarios where, either:


      a). I'll create a CAD file for a new product, that then needs to then be manipulated/presented in something like Max + VRay for high-end rendering, marketing, animation, etc. I use KeyShot on my end, but often this type of work is handed off to the Art Department, and thus translation from CAD to clean sub-d data becomes essential (and also pretty much impossible, from what I've seen). Sure, 3DS Max (surprisingly) supports opening Sldprt/IGES files-- referred to as "Body Objects"-- but if you try to collapse them to usable geometry, they're just broken into very messy, tesselated/triangulated meshes identical to that of an STL/OBJ export from SW. So naturally, this ultimately leads to the Art Department having to remodel the part from scratch--using the tesselated geometry as a starting point-- to achieve the necessary clean, edge-looped, quad-based topology that better lends itself to UVW unwrapping, texturing, lighting, animation, etc. I hate this because what they remodel then becomes an "interpretation" of an otherwise true-to-spec part, leaving a massive margin of error.


      b). On the opposite end of the spectrum, SolidWorks' surface tools are still somewhat hit-or-miss compared to other packages, and when dealing with highly organic surfaces or objects (i.e., humanoid figures, etc.) it's far easier to model them in an art/sub-d package vs. CAD. Thankfully, I have found a decent solution in this scenario: TSplines / TS Elements. It's surgically precise when shown shaded without edges, but of course when you go to show edges, it's a complete mess. Definitely not something that lends itself all that well to editing/modifying, but I'll take what I can get-- assuming there's not a better option for this out there? SW's native 'Scan to 3D' is a joke for anything with any degree of complexity, unfortunately...


      I have spent countless hours browsing the web far and wide, as well as these forums, all to no avail. However, I do have a few "leads" and curious if anybody can help or chime in; maybe we can treat this as an ongoing thread for anybody else trying to establish a similar pipeline? Here's what I've found so far, for a):


      *Rhino 3D-- Thankfully, we have a copy floating around the building and I was able to play with its export tools. I have run countless tests using its OBJ exporter/options/variables, but none of them really interpolate the geometry all that logically. It's still a mess and inconsistent, and despite options claiming to do so: true quad-output doesn't work. There are a number of online converters, etc., that pretty much mirror these export options, still no quads...


      *Modo-- This package also natively supports Sldprt files, and does a fair job of interpolating the geometry, but still strictly outputs as tri's vs. quads, which inevitably creates strange seams and pinch points where thousands of triangles might converge around fillets, indents, etc.


      *ZBrush-- From what I can gather, the real term we're looking for is "Retoplogize" -- most 3D packages have this capability, but it still must be done manually which can take days for complex geometry (might as well remodel in Max at that point). The only one I've heard of that seems to successfully do this automatically is ZBrush, and of course I don't have a copy. Has anybody tried it? If it works, the Art Department would gladly add it to their arsenal.


      This is getting long, but I've also tried MeshLab, SimLab Composer, Okino PolyTrans, etc., but they all do about the same job Rhino does.


      I'm dying here.................anyone?

        • Re: Trying to Untangle CAD / Sub-D Workflow...
          Steve Calvert

          Not having much to do in this department but I always thought Modo was the direction to go.  There are a few SW users here that use Modo in and out of SW perhaps not as you've described or as much detail as you've described.


          Paul McCrorey comes to mind and hopefully he'll come along and help.  If I see him at Solidworks World next week, I'll make sure to ask him.


          Steve C

          • Re: Trying to Untangle CAD / Sub-D Workflow...
            Sloan Anderson

            Thanks for the replies,


            After posting, I did dig into Modo more, following a call I put in to an old friend of mine who does a lot of CAD rendering. Modo has a secondary plugin-- about $500-- called Power Translator-- that is a further development of their "Advanced CAD Loader," apparently. From what I understand, the Advanced CAD Loader is now a part of Modo by default, but only tesselates vs. outputting clean quads. Looking at the new Power Translator, it appears to do this. Of course, there's no free trial and I'm not about to drop $500 on it unless I know it'll be a part of my workflow moving forward. Anybody use this before?


            Regarding NPower's PowerSurfacing for SW-- that does seem like a far better solution for incoming OBJ files -> SW when compared to TSplines / TS Elements. However, it doesn't work the opposite way (i.e., cleanly exporting SolidWorks data as quads for use in SubD packages like Max/Maya).


            Unfortunately, SW Industrial Design is a completely different beast; doesn't really hit the mark at all, sadly.




            I put in a call to AutoDesk. Turns out they have a brand new beta app called Memento that inherently is designed to convert photographic and/or scan data to 3D topology, but as as a part of that workflow also has the capacity to cleanly optimize mesh data into quads or tri's, your choice, as part of the output/export process................ Hmm. I just downloaded it, so I'll give it a whirl! Would certainly beat reinventing the wheel using Modo, its plugin, plus 3DS Max, TSplines and SW, ha...


            Thanks again for chiming in.