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View Full Version : industrial design question (lightwave to cad pipeline)



Dennik
09-24-2012, 11:42 AM
I might have a project that requires industrial design for several electronics equipment enclosures.

I can do the concept work up to 3d printing a prototype but this is definitely the type of work for a guy who uses a cad program, so I wonder if (and how much of the work) I can do it in Lightwave and where the cad guy fits in.
I'd hate to hand the entirety of the project to an engineer but if it would double the cost for me to be part of the project, by building a 3d model that is not usable for molding, then I ought to find a different solution.

I'm saying this because one of my clients mentioned that the mold making company he talked to, was asking for solid formats only, which complicates things for me. Even if I convert the model to a solid format such as iges, it would be pretty useless to them (kinda like a frozen subd model).

I was also wondering if any of you has gone through that pipeline (LW to CAD to mold company) and how do you break down the process for price quoting to the client.

Thanks

Snosrap
09-24-2012, 12:35 PM
I think the design industry as a whole is a ways off from being able to really use the speed and power of SubD's in a way that can go right to engineering/manufacturing. That being said, we bought modo601 and Power SubD-Nurbs plug-in just for the sole purpose of getting our LW models into Inventor for prototyping. The models do come in as "dumb" parts, but they can be dimensioned in Inventor and sent off for quotation and prototyping. We also design decorative furniture hardware (handles, pulls and knobs) in SubD's and the engineers can put in holes and shell the parts out. They are still "dumb", but for prototyping it's a very nice affordable workflow. What may take days for an engineer to draw in Inventor may only take an hour or two with the LW - modo601 - Power SubD-Nurbs workflow. Sure, once we get commitments the engineer will need to engineer the piece, but we save a lot of time with the multiple concepts/prototypes we may work through. I'd love to see LW get something along the lines of the Power SubD-Nurbs plug-in.

kopperdrake
09-24-2012, 05:26 PM
I'll ask our CAD guy tomorrow for you, but typically we'll design it in the CAD software and go to LightWave just for visuals. For some things CAD software is just so much quicker when it comes to detailing things ready for production. Is your casing plastic injection moulding, metal sheet or cast metal? I'll ask Gary if he can think of any way he could see LightWave fitting into a CAD pipeline, but I suspect it's probably along the lines of converting the .lwo to something like a .dxf, importing it into the CAD software (in our case Inventor), and tracing around it. CAD software will take into account material flow,bend radius and all sorts of issues that LightWave can't begin to take into account. I can imagine using LightWave to flesh out the concept, but I would go to CAD for production. Horses for courses :)

gristle
09-24-2012, 08:10 PM
As kopperdrake said, you could convert the file into a dxf/stl that can be imported into a CAD package as a reference to model around.
That would probably be your best bet, without running the mesh through some fancy (and expensive) reverse engineering package to create nurbs surfaces.

The problem with converting the .lwo to an iges is that it will still be tesselated data. If it were dumb nurbs data, it could still be edited downstream in CAD packages (shelled, radii etc.)

Ztreem
09-25-2012, 02:55 AM
If you model with subD's you could convert the data from subD's to NURBS with Tsplines for Rhino3D or Power SubD Nurbs and then export it as a Step file that most CAD aplications can read.
A raw polymodel is useful for Rapid prototyping but not prefered for milling. The polymodel could also be used as a reference for building the CAD model.
As an Industrial Designer myself I don't use Lw much for modeling, I only use it for concept modeling or quick proof of concept models otherwise I model in Rhino and ProEngineer.

pdrake
09-25-2012, 03:38 PM
i transfer my CAD files (vectorworks) through formz. i have to export as IGES, then import to formz, then export as lightwave. it works really well. i could just export from vectorworks as a 3DS, but it really increases the polys and messes with the scale.

i've done it with rhino and had it work well, too.

prometheus
09-26-2012, 01:45 AM
As Ztreem mentioned..
I would take a serious look at adding Rhino3d and also the plugin T-splines, that will most likely giving a very good toolset both for getting polys and subdivision patches in to Rhino and convert them to not only Step files,stl but I think also to pure solid formatīs that can be Manipulated and edited in other Cad tools.

You will also have a good tool for converting Cad files to poly obects for rendering in Lightwave.

Best toolset the other way around for cad files to be visualized I would take a look at Modo though since Itīs coorporation with Dassault systems and solidworks, and also check Modoīs cad loaders, which cleans
geometry nicely it seems to quads.

Michael

kopperdrake
09-26-2012, 04:37 AM
I have to admit the Modo CAD loaders do look great - tempting if a particularly nasty job ever comes through where the usual routes don't work. So far PolyTrans is doing a great job of converting Solidworks files from clients and spitting the LightWave geometry out with the vertex normal map in place to the extent major cleaning up just isn't needed, and even minor is minimal if at all.

lardbros
09-26-2012, 05:42 AM
The route we currently go, is from UG or Solidworks or Inventor (or any other package) and convert them using Right Hemisphere... either save it as their proprietary .RH file, and load that straight into 3dsmax, or export it as an .obj or equivalent, and bring it into Max that way.

Don't tend to model complex designs ourselves, unless we're doing stuff for game engines... usually go from CAD for major design stuff

prometheus
09-26-2012, 05:58 AM
I have to admit the Modo CAD loaders do look great - tempting if a particularly nasty job ever comes through where the usual routes don't work. So far PolyTrans is doing a great job of converting Solidworks files from clients and spitting the LightWave geometry out with the vertex normal map in place to the extent major cleaning up just isn't needed, and even minor is minimal if at all.

I tried polytrans...but couldnīt stand the Ui, and some things didnīt show up right either, I am working with Right Hemisphereīs Deep exploration, works like a charm and is excellent to view models and correct surfaces, I bring in solidworks files and as I get them...they consists of many many surfaces per partīs where I need to merge them to one, as all bolts and nuts etc..Deep exploration is excellent to just search
named parts and replace or merge surfaces, and the navigation and display of models is excellent, smoothing groups of vertex normals are working as it should too if you make sure to use perspective camera for lightwave renders.

I still would like to direct import from solidworks and do geometry clean up in the way cad loader for Modo does, getting Modo itself is an alternative, but I would prefer working within the Lightwave environment.

Michael

lardbros
09-26-2012, 06:11 AM
Prometheus... sometimes developers of certain softwares are listening here, so maybe things might get changed?...

There are certainly no, one-stop solutions, as sometimes we hit issues with Right Hemisphere too, but mostly it'll even try its best and load corrupted files...
Not sure what's happening with it after the SAP takeover, but hopefully it'll stay on track.


Ideally, a Modo style importer would be available for Lightwave... even 3dsmax 2013 (possibly 2012 too) has a direct importer for UG .prt files, and a few other formats... it even imports them as solid objects (but is pretty flakey right now... as in, worked on a single object, and borked at an assembly)

ianr
09-26-2012, 10:22 AM
Hmmm, I would mail Viktor at LWCAD
ask him for a modo-like loader
In say rev5.0?
Ps

kopperdrake
09-26-2012, 10:25 AM
Agree with you both - an importer in LightWave itself, or even one for a reasonable cost as a plugin would be cool. I also agree that PolyTrans' interface is quite something - and I really don't use it for anything other than in and out, or out and in, from one format to another. All that said, Robert Lansdale, the guy behind it, has been rock solid with his support, upgrades come often in your upgrade cycle, and for that I am grateful. I couldn't justify Deep Exploration *and* PolyTrans - DE's price looked pretty hefty last time I looked.

But, if someone were to offer a LW plugin that offered the funtionality of PolyTrans (with the CAD add-on module), but updated to take on the goodness I see in the Modo CAD loader, for around the Ģ600 mark, then I'd be in like a shot.

Snosrap
09-26-2012, 10:29 AM
Lets's get back to the original question of going to solids from polys. Going the other way has been possible for many years and there are many ways that can be accomplished, but getting polys -especially SubD's - into solids has been a very long hard road for developers. IntegrityWare and T-Splines have been the leaders in this research and have come out with some great products. The nice thing about IntegrityWare's implementation of the modo Power SubD - Nurbs plug-in is that it also recognizes and knows the difference between "hard" polys and SubD's and can deal with them both as part as one entity. Modeling the attached pull in Inventor would be a hellish nightmare, but using SubD's it's a breeze. The fact that it's dumb really is a no issue as holes can be added and drawings can be made for quotation purposes and more. I don't know why electronic enclosures would be much different, but granted there may be better tools available for such work. For us the LW- modo Power SubD - Nurbs workflow is great because our concepts/designs tend to be very organic and we need to work fast so SubD modeling suites us best.

kopperdrake
09-26-2012, 02:26 PM
Fair point - that would be a nightmare in Inventor. We tried using Inventor for a chocolate character and it was a no-go, even quite a simple shape.

Dennik
10-23-2012, 05:55 PM
I think the design industry as a whole is a ways off from being able to really use the speed and power of SubD's in a way that can go right to engineering/manufacturing. That being said, we bought modo601 and Power SubD-Nurbs plug-in just for the sole purpose of getting our LW models into Inventor for prototyping. The models do come in as "dumb" parts, but they can be dimensioned in Inventor and sent off for quotation and prototyping. We also design decorative furniture hardware (handles, pulls and knobs) in SubD's and the engineers can put in holes and shell the parts out. They are still "dumb", but for prototyping it's a very nice affordable workflow. What may take days for an engineer to draw in Inventor may only take an hour or two with the LW - modo601 - Power SubD-Nurbs workflow. Sure, once we get commitments the engineer will need to engineer the piece, but we save a lot of time with the multiple concepts/prototypes we may work through. I'd love to see LW get something along the lines of the Power SubD-Nurbs plug-in.

Thank you Snosrap and everyone else for your responses! I watched a few videos of the Power SubD-Nurbs plugin and it looks almost like magic. It definitely takes some weight off my shoulders having to explain why the same model would have to be reworked 100% by an engineer and thus costing much much more. I'll definitely look into adding it to my pipeline.