From a usability standpoint, Microstation Modeler blends seamlessly with the existing MicroStation Motif/Windows compliant menu/icon layout and offerings. Several new solid specific tools have been added, while many existing tools have new categories or options within their respective dialogue boxes.
Building solid models. To start making a solid, the operator may choose from either creating primitives or creating a 2-D profile for protrusion or rotation. Modeler offers the placement of slabs, spheres, cylinders, cones, torsos, and wedges as initial building blocks. A dialogue box provides entry fields for the respective sizes for each type of primitive.
For creating more complex shapes, sketches are created with traditional MicroStation 2-D entity creation tools on the appropriate a user-defined plane. A 3-point selection method of defining the construction plane is provided inside of the sketch operation.
Since Modeler relies on explicit geometry for its sketches, the operator does not have to dimension or constrain the sketch before using it as a profile for protrusion or revolving for solid creation. However, if parametric modification is to be performed, the profile must first be dimensioned. These dimensions are converted to constraints, which can then be modified using the Modify Profile tool.
Modeler offers many advanced creation and modification tools called Features. Simple features include chamfers and thin wall shelling. More complex features include countersink and counterbore holes. All features have dialog boxes for both creation and modification of size fields.
Finally, B-spline surfaces from MicroStation may also be incorporated as part of a solid. Closed spline entities may be protruded or revolved and then added or subtracted from other solids through Boolean operations. Complex 3-D surfaces may also be used to cap or cut away from a solid. The only limit is that these shapes cannot be parametrically modified.
Rendering. With Modeler, the operator designs in a wireframe mode. Hiddenline and shaded are optional rendering operations that can be performed on the model. While not offering dynamic shaded part rotation, Modeler does offer three modes of shaded image: Constant, Smooth, and Phong. The image may be sent to the screen while being computed or held in memory until all computation is finished.
Assembly management. Models or components of a model are first stored as parts with a defined reference point. Once a part is stored, an instance of it may be placed together with others to form an assembly.
Modeler uses a method called Joints to define how parts connect to each other. First the operator specifies which of eight joint types the connection should be. The Manipulate Joint tool lets the user move each part or parts relative to the type of joint. A graphic prompt with arrows indicates what movement is allowed.
2-D links. Modeler supports association between the model and a 2-D drawing. This drawing is created in a separate window where the operator can place a border or simply place associated orthographic views in blank space. Each view has a live link back to the model. Work on the model may be done in the document window or the other model windows. Model changes are automatically updated to each window and view.
If this drawing does not need to be associated-as in the case of giving a 2-D file to a vendor-it can be stored to disk by itself. All 3-D and solid data are stripped away and it becomes a simple 2-D file.
I think Modeler V1 is easy to use and offers several powerful functions. Since it blends seamlessly with MicroStation, both existing and new MicroStation users should be able to master solid modeling in no time.
|MicroStation Modeler V1
Modeler for DOS requires 16M bytes of memory (24 recommended). Modeler for NT requires 24M bytes of memory (32 recommended). Microstation requires DOS 3.1 or higher, Windows 3.1 or higher, or NT 3.1 or higher. Modeler runs on 386 and 486 PCs. Pentiums are preferred for the NT version.
List Price: $5,325. An upgrade for MicroStation V5 is $1,650.
Bentley Systems Inc., 690 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, PA 19341; ph: (610) 458-5000; fax: (610) 458-1060.