12 Replies Latest reply on Oct 18, 2009 6:00 AM by 1-AOFWM4

    What's the catch with Freeform?

      Hi everyone,

       

      Me again with another beginner's question. I recently used Freeform feature to deform a small surface and shape it into what looked as the snout of a toy mouse. It seemed fairly simple... so much that now I'm wondering what's the catch with this feature? It would seem like you can use this feature to achieve almost any shape you want, but... what should you be on the lookout for? What's the trade off?  I mean, it just CAN'T be that easy without compromising something, right?

       

      Thanks,

      Gabi

        • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
          Matt Lombard

          Gabi,

           

          The only real trade off I'm aware of is that it doesn't give you any way to make high quality surfaces. By that I mean surfaces that don't have a lot of inflection points or ripples/dimples/ waves/whatever. It's the same thing with splines. Highest quality splines are easiest when made from a small set of points, but that scenario doesn't allow for a lot of detail. The tools to manipulate the points are not very sophisticated, but if you have a good eye for that kind of thing, some patience, and don't have high expectations, you can get good results.

            • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?

              Thanks, Matt!  So, in your own practice, what kind of applications have you found for this feature? Do you use it often or not really? Would using it for shaping part of a toy, like I did, be a bad use for it?

               

              Thanks,

              Gabi

                • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
                  Matt Lombard
                  Uh, I've probably never really used this on a production part. I like it, it's cool, it's easy, but I don't think the quality is that great. I think to make this a "great" tool, SW has to add a lot of control to it. For now, it's just fun. To get the added control is a lot more work with sketches and other features. You might be able to get away with using it. It all depends on evaluation of the results. Generally, anything you create that has a lot of detail will probably not turn out so good. Large swoopy faces are prolly ok.
              • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
                Kevin De Smet

                It's hard to say.

                 

                I don't use it often either - I think what I don't like about it, is that freeform requires you to add detail and does not allow you to use the detail that is already on your surfaces.

                 

                I would love using freeform as a way to tweak a surface, after it is built, for minor adjustements of (I can dream can't I?) CVs and Hulls.

                • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?

                  Gabi, Matt and Kevin,

                   

                  Check out this video that I did for a friend recently http://files.solidworks.com/special-videos/freeform demo.zip Freeform can be very useful for tweaking existing surfaces. It is very powerful and does have a lot of control but unlike other surfacing features it does not rely on sketches or references (although it can like snapping to ref points in a sketch.) so I think that is where Matt's observation comes from which is a fair statement. It was initially conceived to have two workflows; A) to alter existing surfaces (creates new surf as a replacement for existing) to be highly organic and experiment dynamically doing it. B) to tweak existing surfaces.

                  One great use of Freeform is for tweaking existing loft, boundary and fill surfaces and a lot of times you don't even have to create a control curve or points but rather just tweak the directional vector and weight of the boundaries. Matt is correct that NURBS surfaces (and that is what Freeform is just another variation of) have a nature inherit to them that says (generally) that the more control points you define is inversely proportional to their smoothness. In 2009, if the Boundary for the Freeform patch is more or less than 4 sides, we toggle it into Power fill (Fill feature) and with the added benefit of being able to re-orient (rotate) the temporary U/V of the surface to place your control curve/s in any direction. This affordance is provided by Power fill since it establishes an arbitrary U/V direction and that's how the Fill feature can smartly fill 5 or more sided boundaries, by placing that arbitrary U/V direction, doing an match at the boundary (C0, C1 or C2) and then doing a precise trim.

                    • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?

                      Mark,

                       

                      Thank you very much for clarifying and for the videos! As a new user of the surface tools, I can tell you I'm delighted with this particular one. I was worried that due to my lack of experience there would be something wrong about it that I may have been missing, because it's so easy to use, it's just amazing. I used SW2010 for my model, reshaping a fill surface I had previously made and I was very happy with the results... but you know, as a beginner you always have to wonder if it is not that you see good results only because you don't have enough experience to tell when they are not really that good. Your answer makes me feel a lot more confident of what can be achieved with this tool! Thanks! 

                      • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
                        Kevin Quigley
                        Mark that is a great video! Many thanks for sharing.
                        • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
                          Neil Larsen

                          Mark,

                          I think its a great pity SW are averse to providing the precision this tool needs and deserves...same with loft connectors.

                          Both Matt and I have pushed sensible and practical enhancement ideas forward for this before and it just falls on deaf ears.

                          I don't see why this deficiency of function isn't as obvious to the SW people who designed it and it is to the people who actually use it in the field.

                          What is the issue with providing or rather exposing deliberate geometric control for the users benefit if they choose?

                           

                          To my mind this is a good tool significantly lessened by a misplaced definition of what it does or rather can be used for.

                          Unfortunately because of this default to a nonspecific, push and poke, approximate play thing rather than it being evolved intentionally as a high quality sculpture/surface management tool it tends to find itself in the same company as deform and flex - which is a shame.

                          We can only live in hope of a change of mindset...

                           

                          BTW my understanding has been that the uv aren't changed even temporarily by using the rotate part of this tool rather it just appears that way by giving the user a visual reorientation to the fixed underlying NURBS surface - are you saying that for 5 or more sides that the uv rotation is actual?

                        • Re: What's the catch with Freeform?
                          i only use the freeform tool to display a model in its deformed state that would be manufactured flat. like a rubber wristband of a wristwatch.