Sensable Ships Version 12 of Freeform® 3D Modeling Software

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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