SensAble Technologies

SensAble Technologies (4)

Sensable announced today that it has shipped a major new version of its Freeform™ 3D Design for Manufacture solution for product designers who create organic, highly sculptural goods, from jewelry to toys to medical implants – and need to manufacture them efficiently. Freeform Version 12 adds over 50 new features and enhancements to the company’s proven Freeform 3D modeling platform, which is highly valued by many of the world’s top designers in industries where organic, sculptural forms are needed. Its ability to work across many geometries, including voxels, mesh, polygons and NURBS, and prepare objects for manufacturing, is unique in the industry, allowing users to quickly prototype, iterate and then cost-effectively achieve production-ready models.

"Freeform version 12 has put the fun back into the process of developing new product designs, with new and enhanced features that allow creativity to flow more freely,” said George Sivy, owner of Ghost Studio, a product design firm in Longmont, Colorado. "Fast and effortless is the best way that I can describe these new capabilities. In Freeform, I can model a concept in 15 minutes compared to the hours that it would take in other 3D modeling packages. We are constantly being asked to produce intricate models and figures, and new Freeform features such as the new "Bend & Twist Tool" and the "Pivot Tool" provide us with unrivaled speed and flexibility in experimenting with different poses. Because my models often start as scans, or imports from other modeling programs, Freeform’s ability to use these new tools in a variety of different geometry formats saves significant amounts of time."

“Being able to easily add artistic flair to a mechanical design and have it be machine ready is a great benefit of using Freeform in our workflow,” said Ryan Buckalew, manager of prototyping at Beme International, maker of stylish, yet affordable drapery hardware. “With Project Patch to Clay in Freeform version 12, there is now a greater ability to cleanly surface the elements sculpted in Freeform and stitch them into solid assemblies for manufacturing.“

Highlights of the new Freeform Version 12 release include:

  • Expanded modeling and prep for manufacturing capabilities, across multiple geometries. Workflows today are more complex, requiring numerous model types – for example, scans are output as polygons, engineering files as NURBS, and sculpting models as voxels and polygons. Conversion between formats is often required at different points in a workflow because of limitations of various CAD software packages. This can result in a loss of design details, such as subtle curves, and more importantly in today’s competitive market — time.

Freeform is unique in its ability to model in polygons, voxels, and NURBS surfaces and solids, allowing the designer to retain original design integrity. With Freeform, users can break up polygon models for articulation, interactively optimize mold pull direction, fix moldability problems and develop complex parting surfaces in the geometry that best suits the project. Enhancements in Freeform version 12 expand Freeform’s interoperability, including:

  • Support for Booleans between CAD surfaces/solids, meshes and/or voxels or across any combination of these – saving time while keeping the integrity of the design. For example, users can import a polygon model of a toy into Freeform without the need to convert it into voxels. Once in Freeform, users can “carve up” the toy to indicate articulation points, such as the arm and leg joints – then add further engineering design and export the model as a polygon file -- all while keeping the perfectly sharp edges essential for mold tools.

  • New Mesh tools such as Mesh Division, Mesh Smooth, Mesh Booleans, to allow modeling in the designer’s native format, which protects against potential loss of data as well as the pervasive “gotchas” that can occur when converting between formats. Mesh Division allows a toy designer, for example, to take an animated character model that is highly faceted, and in 1 or 2 clicks create a model that removes the facets and can be used for production.

Streamlining the conversion steps between representational types. Freeform tools allow users to quickly change between formats, enabling flexible workflows using the best format for the task at hand, with such enhancements as:

  • Project patch to clay – a one button, fast and easy command for converting low level relief sculptures in NURBS surfaces. Ideal for incorporating sculptural detail into CAD models for further detailing, or for downstream machining where only NURBS surfaces are supported.

  • Improvements in autosurfacing, - autosurfacing usually means many hundreds of patches to adequately capture detail and this can dramatically slow down downstream CAD/CAM applications. The new improvements dramatically reduce the number of patches required by adding t-joints and further control parameters.

New features and enhancements for traditional sculpting workflows such as faster and more flexible deformation and roughing out tools, include:

  • Curve Spheres – replicating the sculptor’s real world armature, this allows designers and sculptors to quickly create volumetric models controlled by an underling curve skeleton. Allowing quick volume studies, fast re-posing and base model generation.

  • Bend and Twist - allows designers more flexibility to dynamically pose figures by recreating the natural bend and twist of human joints. Extreme deformations like corkscrewing can be achieved, without damaging the model typically associated with such operations.

  • Pose – ideal for action toy designers, medical modelers and anyone creating articulated joints in their designs. Allows for fast and easy joint definition and re-posing to aesthetically test range of movement.

  • Hot Wax Tool – replicating more subtle sculpting procedures, this allows sculptors to gain a finer control over their modeling as well as combining multiples tools into one for a faster, more natural workflow.

  • Interactively optimized mold pull directions – ideal for turning complex organic models into fully drafted, production ready designs. This new tool allows designers to interactively change the pull direction with real time draft analysis to find the optimal pull direction before the task of removing undercuts has begun.

“With Version 12, we’ve added an incredible list of new features and capabilities, building on Freeform’s already extensive 3D modeling tools. We are especially proud of the enhanced interoperability capabilities,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of sales and marketing at Sensable. “Freeform is the only organic CAD software that supports manufacturing-ready designs across so many types of CAD models – meshes, NURBS, voxels, and polygons . Other software may make a great looking model, but Freeform lets you rest assured it can be manufactured to the highest quality standards, efficiently.”

Founded in 1993, Sensable remains the leading developer of touch-enabled solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it. With 44 patents granted and over 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Sensable helps people innovate with human touch solutions. The company markets and sells a suite of 3D organic design solutions that includes its flagship product, Freeform; and the Phantom® and Omni™ lines of haptic devices, used in surgical simulation and planning, stroke rehabilitation, medical training, and a range of research and robotic applications.

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Egyptian mummies have fascinated mankind for centuries, and now modern-day 3D design software is helping Egyptologists to better see what two small mummies looked like in life, and from that, advance their understanding of ancient cultures.

Sensable announced that its Freeform® 3D-modeling and organic design solution helped put a face on two high-profile Egyptian mummies in displays that just opened this month. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History exhibition, “External Life in Ancient Egypt,” displays a new 3D-printed bust of a Freeform-designed facial reconstruction performed from the computed tomography (CT) scans of a 3-year old mummified boy. The child is the subject of extensive research by noted physical/forensic Smithsonian anthropologist Dr. David Hunt. In a separate case with a mummy owned by the Spurlock Museum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Freeform helped reconstruct the face of an 8-year old child mummy, revealing greater detail on facial features, and even showing a small one-sided ponytail.

Facial reconstruction formerly required physically sculpting on casts taken from the skeletal remains, a painstaking, time-consuming process that is potentially destructive process to 2,000-year old mummies. Freeform allowed Joe Mullins, a Washington DC-based forensic artist, to work from new-era CT scans, input them into Freeform, and then with digital speed and accuracy, define precise layers of muscle, skin and soft tissue following skeletal lines to depict the children with startling realism.

“From Joe’s facial reconstruction work, we learned our mummy was from West Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, and had more delicate facial features that we previously thought,” said Dr. Sarah Wisseman, archaeologist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS, Prairie Research Institute), which collaborates with the Spurlock Museum on exhibits and interdisciplinary projects. Her 2003 book “The Virtual Mummy” detailed what is known about the Spurlock mummy based on a 1990’s-era technology. “This is valuable new insight that confirms what is known about the mixed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern population inhabiting Egypt during the Roman Period."

Freeform is the 3D-modeling and design solution of choice for experts in facial reconstruction worldwide among archeologists and forensic artists at such institutions as the British Museum, Manchester University, the University of Dundee, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and numerous law enforcement organizations. Freeform’s rich set of organic modeling tools and unique ‘digital clay’ design paradigm, allow technicians to feel the model as they reconstruct and sculpt features using clues from the scans and skulls – and to work faster and more iteratively, during reconstruction than if working in physical clay.

“With Freeform, I can see what the skull is telling me, to maintain a direct representation of the skull into the tissue so I can bring it to life,” said Joe Mullins, forensic artist and chairman of the forensic art subcommittee of the International Association for Identification, an industry group for forensic specialists. “If I were working in clay, I couldn’t see through to the bone. With Freeform, I can, and because it’s optimized for working with complex, organic shapes, I can work at amazing speed. I work in layers, adding muscles that I’ve taken from libraries of anatomies, tweaking them, and adding skin and refining facial features.”

“Best yet, I can save my work in stages, and make multiple variations – so that whenever I want to go back to a previous version, all I do is click.”

Since mummies’ heads often are damaged in death or over time, Freeform makes it fast and easy to mirror an intact section of the skull onto the damaged side, to create facial symmetry. After flattened or missing bone sections are corrected, Mullins refines the design of individual facial features, such as upper and lower lips and noses. Mullins uses standard guidelines for skin thickness by gender, race or age, but lets the bones serve as the foundation.

With one mummy, cranial analyses such as the measurements of the nasal aperture and space between the eyes determined the mummy to be of African descent and likely from near Luxor in Egypt. Based in this input, Freeform easily allowed Mullins to refine the look of the nostrils and the eyes.

“The eyelids require a lot of finesse, and that’s where Freeform’s sculptural advantage shines through,” Mullins said. As the industry’s only touch-enabled 3D design solution, Freeform users like Mullins sculpt by holding a touch-enabled (haptic) device instead of a computer mouse. For example Mullins established a reference point on screen, then simply pulled, tugged or smoothed out skin by “feel” as he moved across the underlying eye socket. “And if I didn’t like a variation I did – I simply went back to an earlier version. You can’t do that when working in clay,” he said. These digital files also are easily output in many forms of rapid prototyping additive manufacturing, allowing multiple copies to be made for display purposes or further analyzed.

With another mummy, by working in Freeform, Mullins had the tools to take the higher-resolution, more detailed CT scan, and correspondingly better define the design of the nose, lips, ears, and the eyes than in the previous 20-year old recreation made from clay. He also could work both from CT-indicated hair as well as historical images to design the small one-sided ponytail hairstyle.

“Even secrets of the grave are no longer so secret with today’s advanced technology,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of marketing for Sensable. “We’re proud to showcase the facial reconstruction work of our Freeform customers, and are excited about the way it is helping to bring new insights to ancient civilizations – as well as helping solve forensic mysteries in the modern world.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History “External Life of Ancient Egyptians” exhibition is permanent and includes an additional eight cases focusing on the science behind studying mummies. The museum is located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. in Washington, D.C. and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. More information about the exhibition and the museum is available at:

The Spurlock Museum’s mummy is on display on the museum’s second floor. For more information, visit:

Sensable announced that custom facial prosthetics, custom dental and maxillofacial implants, as well as custom surgical guides, created with its Freeform® 3D modeling and design system will be spotlighted at the 2011 American Association of Maxillofacial Prosthetics annual conference starting this Saturday, October 29th in Scottsdale, Arizona. Freeform’s touch-enabled 3D modeling system allows maxillofacial surgeons and prosthetic designers to start with existing CT or MRI scans, then create and manufacture complex and exceptional-fitting restorations in a fraction of the time previously required by producing them by hand – speeding patient access to improved comfort, aesthetics and function.

Also at the conference, speakers from US military medical institutions will cite custom implants and prostheses created using Sensable Freeform, during a session on advances in the use of digital techniques for treating wounded soldiers.

Maxillofacial medicine treats anomalies of the face, skull and jaws, both congenital and acquired, through surgery and custom-made implants and appliances. Prosthetists – specialists in designing and fitting restorations – are going digital, and rely on Freeform as their go-to tool for the prosthetics-making process.

“FreeForm allows us to help surgeons rebuild faces -- and lives," said Nancy Hairston, president of MedCAD, a Dallas based custom medical device manufacturer whose custom surgical splints for a complex mandible/maxilla realignment were made on a 3D printer in biocompatible material and are on display at the show. "In the past, custom implants and guides cost a lot more than off the shelf parts. Today, with digital solutions like Freeform, we can create customized parts for the same cost, save time, and with even greater accuracy.”

“With FreeForm, our team can create our ClearShield craniofacial implants at least 50 percent faster , moving from an STL file created from a patient-specific CT scan, through to completed design a 3D model in as little as a week,” said Cynthia Brogan, CEO of Osteosymbionics, whose naturally shaped implants correct cranial defects.

In addition to the above cases, other custom prosthetics and surgical guides designed in Freeform and showcased at the AAMP conference include:

* Custom dental guides for complex implant surgeries from ProPrecision Guides of Gainesville FL.
* 3D study model of an aneurism to help a surgeon better locate and analyze a treatment plan than by using 2D radiology images alone, from service bureau Protowerx of Langley, British Columbia.
* An obturator from City University of New York (CUNY), and other complex dental appliances provided to treat congenital deformities or for cancer patients when large sections of their palates must be removed, restoring basic human functions such as speaking, breathing and eating.

As a design solution optimized for organically-shaped products, Freeform saves hours, even days, when designing human forms. Its design-for-manufacturability features allow service bureaus to streamline the process of delivering a completed implant or appliance, as well as custom tools and guides which can aid in surgery, using the latest additive manufacturing techniques and biocompatible materials.

“Precise dental implant placement is paramount to stability, comfort and life expectancies. With Freeform, I can design a typical surgical guide in 15 minutes, instead of 45 minutes. The resulting surgical guide is a perfect fit, and with direct manufacturing, we also avoid the heat, fumes, dust and debris involved when manually forming acrylic guides and grinding them to fit, as well as numerous intermediary steps,” said John Pellerito, principal of ProPrecision Guides.

“Freeform is the one solution I can’t live without in my toolbox,” said Shawn Cherewick, owner of Protowerx. “The product has made it possible for us to take notoriously ‘noisy’ CT scan files, and manipulate their organic shapes so that even jagged and protruding edges of the aneurism – shapes that traditional CAD would choke on - could be produced as models effectively and efficiently like never before.”

Freeform Enables Maxillofacial Implant Designers to:

* Easily mirror intact anatomy from one side of the body to the other damaged side, to create perfect symmetry
* Split anatomical files at precisely the right location – both standard and non-standard
* Intuitively control the position of anatomy and implants
* Match jagged or irregular edges – for example, a skull patch for a wounded soldier – at least 5 times faster than traditional CAD
* Prep models for rapid manufacturing and tooling quickly and accurately
* Readily drive new biocompatible materials and additive manufacturing processes, including

* Trabecular metal that supports bone in-growth;
* 3D printing in a host of new biocompatible resins including polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
* Milling and traditional casting, in titanium or PEEK

* Streamline digital workflows
* Scan, then design complex solid models such as in medical applications.
* Easily and quickly explore designs and produce study models
* Readily create manufacturable files, for example testing insertion directions and draft

“We’re witnessing a revolution in patient-specific manufacturing today, where implants are being designed and produced faster, more accurately and in new materials that provide enormous benefits to patients,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of marketing, at Sensable. “We’re proud to showcase the innovation of our Freeform customers and demonstrate how they are using our systems to produce transformational implants and prosthetics for patients.”

Founded in 1993, Sensable remains the leading developer of touch-enabled solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it. With 44 patents granted and over 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Sensable helps people innovate with human touch solutions. The company markets and sells the Intellifit™ Digital Restoration System for dental labs; a suite of 3D organic design solutions that includes its flagship product, Freeform; and the Phantom® and Omni™ lines of haptic devices, used in surgical simulation and planning, stroke rehabilitation, medical training, and a range of research and robotic applications. With an unparalleled commitment to partnering with customers, Sensable brings a human touch to innovating and implementing customer-centric solutions. Sensable products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide.

For more information, visit:

SensAble Technologies, a leading provider of touch-enabled 3D modeling applications, dental restoration design and fabrication solutions and haptic devices, announced the availability of a new version of its FreeForm® 3D modeling system that streamlines digital workflows for both designers and engineers who create complex, organically shaped products.  This software allows companies to deliver on the promise of digitally-driven product design, where time and cost efficiencies are finally realized.

The FreeForm Version 11 software release – one of the most comprehensive in FreeForm’s history – allows product designers with hard-to-manufacture goods, including toys, collectibles, patient-specific implants, jewelry, coins and other highly sculptural works, to drastically shorten the design and review process and get products to manufacturing far more efficiently. In addition to new design functionality, the software includes advanced tools that enable designers to analyze how easily their models can be manufactured – reducing engineering reviews and design iterations, and expensive and time consuming retooling costs.  SensAble is showcasing this new FreeForm version at the EuroMold conference in Frankfurt today through December 4, 2010.

“SensAble has introduced new features in FreeForm version 11 that have improved on an already exceptional 3D modeling program,” said Nick Whitmore, digital sculptor specializing in toy design at designworks group, a worldwide design consultancy with offices in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia.  “Version 11’s enhanced tools for prepping our models for manufacturing are so fast that we’ve reduced the time involved in fixing undercuts by 75%. We simply design in Freeform, then send digital files directly to the manufacturers for tooling and molding for incredible efficiency.”

“I use FreeForm every day in my workflow and it's essential in my ability to quickly produce high quality products for my clients,” said Harry Hamill of Colorado Springs CO, a designer specializing in organic, sculpted jewelry.  “Refinements have made v11 much more efficient – for example, the ability to apply changes to multiple pieces of a model simultaneously, such as clay resolution or deformation, can save a substantial amount of time over the course of a day. The new Lattice Deform tool is fantastic for quickly applying complex, smooth deformations to a piece, and the new enhancements to the Ridge tool make it far more powerful.”

Instead of designing digitally by holding a computer mouse, FreeForm users hold a 3D 'Virtual Touch' stylus that provides force feedback – literally pushing back on the users hand so they “feel” the 3D model they are designing and viewing on the computer screen.  Using their sense of touch in this way allows designers to work faster and more efficiently while creating complex organic shapes and intricate, sculptural details.

“With FreeForm v11, we make it even easier for design professionals to produce better products faster,” said Joan Lockhart, vice president of marketing at SensAble.  “Today’s time and cost pressures mean product design teams must work together more effectively than ever before.  Designers, engineers, mold makers; everyone in the process is looking for the best digital workflows and tools for the job.  Our customers give us incredibly helpful input about the functionality they need, and SensAble is pleased to provide them with innovative and practical suites of tools in FreeForm that they can rely on from concept to manufacturing.”

Highlights of  FreeForm v11

* Streamlined concept design and modeling
o Innovative Incorporation of Detail into Solid Models.  New parasolid editing features enable seamless transference of detail onto a solid model from virtual clay.  With the new “sculpt and refit” process, FreeForm now eliminates any need for surfacing, cutting, trimming, or stitching of the original solid-based model.
o More sophisticated, complex deformations.   A new Lattice Deform tool provides an interactive way to target and restrict deformations to very specific areas of the model – or allow multiple pieces to be deformed as a single unit. For example, working with a multi-piece model of a toy soldier with an intricately detailed uniform and accessories, the designer can simultaneously re-proportion the 3D shapes of all items at once.   
* New and improved workflows
o Faster work with complex solid models such as in medical applications.  Users can quickly define volumetric shapes with a simple curve network, and then with one click, create a solid model – a workflow that is extremely well-suited to creating patient-specific implants with speed and accuracy.  
o Fast vacuum-formed packaging for complex organic shapes.   A new Fill to Plane model prep tool dramatically simplifies the creation of the core – the positive of the model – for the main tooling used in the creation of vacuum-formed packaging.
* Faster prepping of models for manufacturing tooling, whether for mold making, core creation, or die creation for stamping.
o Efficient Family Mold Design. Using new Import/Export via XML feature, FreeForm users can easily position low-resolution copies of the model pieces to quickly decide the most efficient layout for the family mold.  Upon import of the layout positioning into the high resolution model, all pieces automatically move to those positions – a significant time-saver.
o Fast Creation of Transitional Mold Parting Surfaces.  The new Ring Patch tool quickly creates transitional surfaces from a perimeter parting line to the main parting surface of a mold, saving hours of design time.
o New Parting Line Analysis Function.  This feature pinpoints part-to-curve gaps, allowing the designer to address problems more quickly.
o Enhanced Analysis Tools.  Analyze Fit displays color layers that make it easy for users to assess and adjust how closely two pieces of a model fit together – especially helpful when creating patient-specific implants.  Also using color mapping, the new Analyze Thickness tool helps designers minimize excess material costs, design for part strength and accommodate injection molding requirements relating to material flow and cooling.

Availability and Pricing:

FreeForm v11 is currently available on new systems, and customers with current maintenance contracts have begun receiving their free software update either from SensAble or their local reseller.  Customers without software maintenance should contact SensAble for options to upgrade their software.  Contact SensAble online or call 781-939-7457 for additional information.

About SensAble Technologies

Founded in 1993, SensAble Technologies is the leading developer of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually “feel” it.  With 41 patents granted and over 8,000 systems installed worldwide, SensAble Technologies' haptic technology is being used in applications ranging from designing toys and footwear, to surgical simulation and stroke rehabilitation, to dental restorations, as well as a range of research and robotic applications.  The company markets its own 3D modeling solutions as well as its haptic devices and developer toolkits to medical, dental, design, and manufacturing companies; educational and research institutions; and OEMs. SensAble products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide.

FreeForm, SensAble and SensAble Technologies, Inc., are trademarks or registered trademarks of SensAble Technologies, Inc. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective holders.

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