Charles this interests me as well, as an existing tsElements user. What interests me is the quality of the the conversion from sub-d to nurbs. The thing that concerns me is the "weight" of the final converted surface - as in the number of surface control points that are generated. I did have the chance to offer some input into this product when it was in beta or possibly alpha, where we took a Modo OBJ file and ran it through this new product and also through tsElements.
The differences then were startling. In SolidWorks the surface patch network looked similar (and in many ways this product was superior to the way tsElements patched some areas) but if you looked at the underlying surface control points (in my case by importing into Punch Software SharkFX and turning on CVs) the difference was obvious.
The Powernurbs surfaces were extremely dense with CVs. The tsElements version was a lot "lighter". This manifested itself in the file size. The Powernurbs surface was about 8x the file size of the tsElements version (when both were converted to IGES).
I am led to understand that this area has been worked on intensively so this should improve over time.
Of course the one thing you cannot do with this workflow is actually edit inside SolidWorks - it is very much a one way street. This is the key benefit of the TsElements approach, and one which SolidWorks needs to address in upcoming releases - either to ensure that tsElements remains supported, or (my preference) to introduce a sub-d modelling workflow directly into SolidWorks.
What value does the tsElements implementation of editing inside SolidWorks actually add? It seemed like a rather gimmicky nod towards future functionality to me. Nods to the future with tsElements seem a bit hollow to me now, I have to assume they will not be spending any time making the SW functionality any better.
Now, being able to add/subtract edges inside SW is another story, I'm just speaking about what tsElements offers today. Is that actually useful? The back-and-forth compatability issues with SW remembering face and edge ID is a strong case (less red flags on re-import). I'd like to see how many red flags I get with importing a modo/PowerNURBS file.
The value of being able to edit within SolidWorks is essential in my view. What we do is get a base shape resolved in Modo then take it into SolidWorks and tweak. Often - especially if your part needs to interact with other geometry that may be subject to change - you cannot really define the final volume boundaries. For example on an electronics enclosure that fits onto another assembly, both the other assembly may change and the configuration of internal components may change as the design phases progress.
In an ideal 'ID' world all the engineering and electronics are sorted before you get to do the package. Not in my world! In my world the internals (that we are not taking care of) will change daily according to ongoing tests, sourcing of components and (to be frank) personal whim.
So what we can do - right now - even in basic tsElements is rough out the core form, then tweak specific areas to fit changes in specs. Of course sometimes the changes are huge and you have to start over again - such is life - but 80% of the time this tweaking approach works OK.
There are also a few hidden commands in tsElements - for example you can in fact add faces and extrude from faces - hold down the control key in face select mode and move the face away and it adds (see the tsextrude command on the TSplines web site). TSplines were going to remove this functionality during beta but we 'persuaded' them not to
Back in the day when I used Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt (and Vellum Solids before then) a lot of this direct face manupulation was possible as those apps let you move surface control points (in a similar way to SolidWorks Freeform - but better). That was 10+ years ago. There is still a hell of a long way to go before we get to any 'ideal' system.
I have seen the new Creo Parametric 2 Freestyle in operation. It is very very impressive. That is included in the core Creo package. Likewise, Autodesk are introducing Fusion with TSplines on the Labs site in May (PC version only for now - but I have seen a demo of it working in the Mac version as well). If it is in Fusion, I expect it will be in core Inventor as well. All of these offer far more than tsElements.
I will buy the PowerNURBS and CADLoader packages for Modo anyway - I think they will be useful tools to have. But they are not my ideal system.What I want is the equivalent of Creo Freestyle or TSplines built right into SolidWorks. PTC, for all their corporate nonsense do actually make a damn good product and are innovating in the core geometry creation and editing area while others are focusing on add ons. There is no point in Bernard Charles saying that CATIA has the best surfacing in the world if we cannot get access to it (through cost or lack of features). What users want, and need, are usable tools in the core systems. For too long surfacing has been held as this specialist ultra high end activity. It is only that way because the tools and interfaces to these packages are so arcane.
With tools like Modo we can create forms and transitions that are next to impossible to do using NURBS approaches. Us CAD users have had our eyes opened now and we see that indeed the grass is not just green but GREEN on the other side of the fence and we want a bit of that action. Some companies are deliverying the goods now. SolidWorks (and Siemens) are very quiet. 12 months from now, if we haven't seen some action I honestly think we will have to start looking at other systems to build our business on for the future. I'd rather not switch, but needs must.
BTW - SolidWorks can do surfacing as well as any system IMHO - this is our latest job, launched a couple of days ago at the Milan Furniture Fair:
This bath was designed entirely in SolidWorks - start to finish, with tools cut from SolidWorks data. The modelling and design approach to doing this kind of stuff is different from something like an ergonomic handle (as in the Modo example). The bath type product needs to have wall thickness closely defined all round so has to be driven by curves, and in these cases the NURBS approach is easier. The handles often have complex transition areas which are FAR easier to do in sub-d modelling.
What needs to happen for the futuire though, is for a CAD system to offer multiple approaches in the same file - we should have nurbs/curves modelling, sub-d tools and (ideally) the ability to directly interact with surface control points. SolidWorks needs to move forward or it will get left behind.
Kevin, we at IntegrityWare are working furiously on giving you at least some basic control polygon editing for the subD inside of SolidWorks.
Any suggestions on other subD functionality that would be useful inside of SolidWorks?
Gary without knocking Modo out of the equation what most users want is to do all the sub-d work inside SolidWorks. This is definitely the way other companies are heading.
Having said that, given the great value pricing and cross platform capabilities Modo and PowerNURBS offers if you can get some mesh handling into SolidWorks it would be a great addition.
In terms of what I think is needed:
1. Add faces and edges (extrude face command)
2. Delete faces and edges
3. box editing (of the underlying mesh cage)
4. Symmetry across a plane
5. Move, rotate points edges and faces with move direction cartesian or normal to surface.
Basically everything that tsElements offers and a bit more.
But more critically, you need to ensure the surface point density is optimised and of too heavy for downstream work. This is an area I think TSplines does have an advantage at the moment.
As a SolidWorks project that bath is probably a good fit for SW's strengths. You can create most of it in a handful of features, and there are no crazy changes in curvature. Not much detail. That kind of thing I wouldn't expect to need something more powerful.
I'm waiting for a one stop shop that's more reasonably priced than NX. It's just a matter of time. Subd techniques and Nurbs accuracy in a single package that can do the whole ball of wax from the ID to the tooling details. The Modo stuff looks fun, but that one-way street wouldn't work for me. I may be retired by the time I find something, but I'm sure it's coming. It's frightening to say it, but the Autodesk guys might have the best chance to make this kind of thing happen, between Inventor, lame as it is, Alias, Maya, and Tsplines. They have all the ingredients they need, and that Fusion thing might be the first rip at it. If Autodesk is working on this kind of thing, I'm sure someone else is going to do it better.
There is no chance of Autodesk making this happen.
Autodesk has owned all the technologies for years except for T-Splines and they have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no interest whatsoever in giving users one powerful application. Autodesk has already renegged on most of the claims Buzz Kross made when Autodesk purchaced the source code from Spatial (ACIS) for Shape Manager. Autodesk will continue to offer suites of applications with seperate and distinct user interfaces. What's new is that Autodesk will now be forcing you to use them on their cloud.
I think it's far more likely that SolidWorks V6 will offer Sub-D modeling.
It's think it's also likely that SolidWorks V6 will address the issue that continues to plauge every parametric modeler available:
San Diego, CA
Jon I'm not so sure. I've seen Tsplines integrated into Fusion and it looked pretty good. I personally don't like the interface to Inventor but Fusion has a lot of nice features. I'm also convinced Autodesk will integrate TSplines across the board in MCAD and AEC. Time will tell. I think Autodesk have a position in the CAD industry that is unique in that they now have a complete range of technologies that enable everything from 2D drafting to ultra high end surfacing and analysis. At the moment that is a bit of a mish mash of apps but over time I do expect to see unification of interfaces and underlying code. It just makes business sense. They also don't have a high end to feed like Dassault or Siemens or to some extents PTC. Most of their customer base is AEC or SME engineering. I'm not including Alias in that or any bought in tech.
They know the way to grow their market is to up sell their existing customers. Hence why you get no one with Autocad ever paying full price for Inventor or Revit. Basically they know they can progress without having to worry about the enterprise bun fight between Dassault and Siemens.
Kevin, I've watched Inventor Fusion go nowhere fast for two years now as Autodesk re-purposes it for whatever they feel the current trending need is. I don't like the user interface of Inventor Fusion either. Inventor Fusion does not have the simplicity and ease of use SpaceClaim does. The SpaceClaim user interface is the best I've ever used of any CAD or CAM product. Autodesk seems to think if you throw every modern UI tool in that this represents a good UI. I think it represents a mess that's cumbersome and annoying to use.
I don't think that Autodesk's legacy code applications will be easy to combine. Evidence of how difficult a task it is to upgrade legacy code software can be easily seen in how PTC is struggling so hard to move Pro/E, now Creo Parametric, forward.
It's been years since Autodesk purchased Alias and very little progress has been made integrating Alias into Inventor. Autodesk doesn't want to jeopardize sales of Alias to help Inventor sales. They want both.
There is a reason for SolidWorks V6 and it's not just the cloud. It's because it's time to push the reset button on SolidWorks.
San Diego, CA
Matt you can't really see much detail on that shot but there is quite a lot of detailed indentations and base detail in the bath. On other ones we do with detailed rims the job is more complex but it can still cope.
Where sub-d works well is for surfaces that have to have transitions or for fast conceptual work. Another area I would like to see work done in is adding surface decorative detail. Declam's Powershape offers this as well as some mesh handling. In short the ideal system needs to include Nurbs sub-d and 3D sculpting (SensAble) with ability to lay surface decoration down.
As the additive manufacturing options become more refined the CAD front end needs to keep pace.
What I'm worried about is, how robust is it to take a SubD-to-NURBS model into SolidWorks... and then have it fillet, and draft, and shell?
Because sometimes it's already difficult enough to get native SolidWorks swoopy nurbs faces to shell successfully.
Kevin there is no reason that the imported surfaces should not shell/fillet etc the same as any other. The reason a part won't shell etc is usually becuase the surface has too extreme a curvature at some point, so the shell command cannot create the offset surface required - this is an issue with all systems not just SolidWorks. In many ways the sub-d mesh modelling route offers a solution to this though. If you find the part fails to shell becuase of these issues, go back to the sub-d modeller (in my case Modo) and offset the surface there. In a mesh modeller offsets (usually) always work. Then resave the file and take back into SolidWorks (or whatever systen you use) and you have a shelled out part.
This never failing shell is a feature of most mesh modeller systems. SensAble's modeller offers this capability as well - in that the shell command never fails.
Adam O'Hern aka thecadjunkie did a great video on this workflow with Tsplines and Modo going into SolidWorks, but the same would apply to powerNURBS. The video is on this page:
The one with the toy car.
We have a basic version of the importer working within SolidWorks and are working
on editing tools. We have put a lot of work into getting accurate mostly G2 surfaces.
Although we haven't tried any drafting, we seem to be able Boolean and Fillet very
nicely in SW. When the surfaces don't self-intersect after offset, we have been able
to reliably do the offset and shelling operations.
If there is an intersection in the offset of a surface, it can often be addressed by setting
up the Sub-D such that you have separate surfaces on either side of the intersection.
For example, on the very tight area on the above picture of the handle where it looks like
a small fillet, if you set it up such that that fillet flows between two surfaces it works great.
Typically, you want to design your Sub-D in this way anyhow so you have control over
those areas. In Modo, you can do this by setting materials. Where materials change,
we force the surfaces to change so that material boundaries will always be surface
boundaries. The intersection between offset surfaces seems to be much easier for
SolidWorks and I suspect every modeler than self-intersection on the interior of a
Hope this helps!