SensAble Technologies has updated its FreeForm 3-D modeling application with
an array of new design functionality along with advanced tools that let
designers analyze how easily their models can be manufactured.
FreeForm version 11, aimed at product designers of hard-to-manufacture goods
and those working with organic shapes, offers new parasolid editing features
that enable seamless transference of detail onto a solid model from virtual
clay. With its new "sculpt and refit" process, Freeform now eliminates the need
for surfacing, cutting, trimming or stitching of the original solid-based
Lattice Deform tool can facilitate the design of more sophisticated
deformations, allowing users to target and restrict work to a very specific
area of the model or even address multiple pieces to be deformed as a single
unit, company officials said. For example, this new capability would allow a
designer working on a multi-piece model of a toy soldier with a detailed
uniform and accessories to simultaneously re-proportion the 3-D shapes of all
the items in one operation.
In the area
of new and improved workflows, FreeForm version 11 lets users define volumetric
shapes with a simple curve network using one click to create a solid model. In
addition, a new Fill to Plane model prep tool helps simplify the creation of
the core (referred to as the positive of the model) for the main tooling used
in the creation of vacuum-formed packaging.
users better explore the manufacturability of their designs, the upgrade ushers
in a number of new functions, including the ability to easily position
low-resolution copies of model pieces to quickly determine the most efficient
layout for the family mold. A new Ring Patch tool creates transitional surfaces
from a perimeter parting line to the main parting line surface of a mold - a
capability designed to reduce design time.
analysis tools bundled in the upgrade include Analyze Fit, for displaying color
layers for assessing how closely two pieces of a model fit together, and
Analyze Thickness, another color mapping tool that helps designers minimize
excess material costs, design for part strength and accommodate injection
molding requirements related to material flow and cooling.
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Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
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