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Geometric Modeling Systems

The design process can be thought of as the detailing of a shape as the
designer's idea evolves. Thus CAD software as a design aid is just a tool to
facilitate this de tailing process. As mentioned in Section 2.3, typical CAD
software can be classi fied as two groups. One is the computer-aided drafting
system that enables the designer to realize the design idea by manipulating
the shape in two dimensions, as described in Chapter 4. The other is the
geometric modeling system by which the designer manipulates shapes inthree
The following example illustrates how a geometric modeling system can be
used in the design process. Envision a child making something from "play
dough." The child progresses toward a final shape by deforming and sometimes
by adding and cutting pieces off the dough. This process can be considered to
be a design process because it involves detailing a shape as the design idea
evolves. In fact,
the child is inunersed in the design process without any knowledge of
technical drawings-even without pen and paper. If the child wants to deliver
the result to others, say, for prototyping or mass production, the child can just
give them the real model from which all the necessary information can be
obtained.This natural use of the design process raises questions such as Are
technical drawings indis pensable to the design process? Do computer-aided
drafting systems support our activities naturally in the design process? We can
justify the use of drawings by saying that the detailing process involving the
use of a material such as play dough cannot realize a complicated shape while
at the same time satisfying exact size or
dimension requirements. Furthermore, it is very difficult in most cases to
extract the necessary information from real models in order to make an exact
reproduc tion.
Geometric modeling systems came into being to overcome the problems en
countered with the use of physical models in the design process. These systems


We explain each category in the following sections. Inother words. However. WIREFRAME MODELING SYSTEMS Wireframe modeling systems represent a shape by its characteristic lines and end points. a visual model composed only of lines is sometimes ambiguous. it is impossible to calculate the object's mass properties. the visual model is simply a wireframe drawing of the shape. adds.1. Geometric modeling systems are classified as wireframe modeling systems. In other words. in order of their evo lutionary history. or generate its finite meshes for finite-element analysis even though it appears to be a three- dimensional . and connectivity information for the shape's curves and points.Wireframe modeling systems were popular when geometric modeling was first introduced. surface modeling systems. · which is the major disadvantage of using a physical model. the three-dimensional visual model is accompanied by its mathematical description and thus eliminates the need for measurement for prototyping or mass production . using a geometric modeling system. and cuts pieces off the visual model in the process of de tailing a shape just as the child does with the physical model of play dough. derive the tool paths to machine its surfaces. However. Without this information. The vi sual model may look the same as the physical model. Furthermore. coordinates of the points.The systems use these lines and points to display three-dimensional shapes and allow manipulation of the shapes by modifying the lines and points. but it is intangible. Their popularity was due to the fact that wireframe modeling systems require only simple user input to create a shape and that it is relatively easy for users to develop systems themselves. as illus trated in Figure 5. Connectivity information identifies which points are the end points of which curves and which curves are adjacent to each other and at which points.the corresponding mathematical description does not include information about the inside and outside boundary surfaces of the object being modeled.102 • Geometric: Modcllng Systems provide an environment similar to the one in which the physical model is created and naturally manipulated. and the corre sponding mathematical description is the list of curve equations. and nonmanifold modeling systems. the designer deforms. solid-modeling systems.

a list of curve equations. .2 illustrates evaluation of the appearance of an automobile body modeled by a surface modeling system. the surface modeling sys tems now being developed include surface connectivity information. However.3 shows the cal culation and verification of NC tool paths generated for an object created by a sur face modeling system. three methods are used to create a surface in surface modeling sys tems: (1) by interpolating the input points. the application program (e. Figure 5. and radius of a cylindrical surface are examples of the characteristic attributes defining a cylindrical surface equation.This adjacency information is very helpful in some application programs.i SUrfacc . direction of the center axis. and (3) by translating or revolving a specified curve.. wireframe modeling systems have tended to be replaced by surface model ing systems and solid modeling systems. SURFACE MODELING SYSTEMS Insurface modeling systems. Because of that inconvenience. The mathematical description may include the information about surface con nectivity (i. However. The visual model in a surface modeling system may appear to be the same as that in the wireframe model when the surfaces are neither colored nor shaded. an NC tool path program) has to derive the boundaries of the surfaces and their connectivity information.the basic input mode for a system can easily be guessed from the representations of the curves and surfaces presented in Chapter 6and 7. 5.The input method for each of these surface creation methods may differ.e. and so on). the mathematical description corresponding to a vi sual model includes surface information in addition to the information about the characteristic lines and their end points contained in the wireframe description. Thus a list of surface equations. a program to generate the tool paths of an NC milling machine may use this information to check gouging (unex pected machining) of a surface adjacent to the surface being machined.g. Typically. Without surface connectivity information.. because these capabilities are an essential part of the design process. information on how surfaces are joined and which surfaces are adja cent to each other at which curves. For example. Figure 5.Moddlng Systems • 103 shape. depending on the particular surface modeling system. Therefore. and the mathematical description is used to generate the NC tool paths to ma chine its surfaces. and the coordinates of end points are updated as the visual model is manipulated on the graphics screen. Surface modeling systems are used to create models with complex surfaces mainly for two purposes-the visual model is used to evaluate the model aestheti cally. The location. (2) by interpolating the curve nets speci fied. the mathematical description of the surface model created by a surface modeling system has typically included only a list of surface equations (or the characteristic attributes defining the surface equations) of infinite surfaces without connectivity information.

called a solid. an NC tool path generation program can be written to generate automatically . Solid modeling systems are used to model a Hyp shape having a closed volume. outside. or on the closed volume. Furthennore.. . . . flsure 5... a simple set of surfaces or a simple set of characteristic lines is not allowed if it cannot form a closed volume. 104 • Geomdrtc Modeing Systems Figure 5. Inaddition to the information provided in a surface modeling sys tem.. .2 Model ngof M'I 8U• tomoblle body .9) modeling systems. an application program can be written to generate automatically the finite elements of a solid type from a solid model. and thus application programs can be written to do operations at the level of volume instead of at the level of surface.3 Calculation and "la'· lflcation of NC tool paths (Courtesy of OPEM MIMD SOf twa re Tech nolo gies SOLID MODELING SYSTEMS Gm bH..Therefore any information related to the volume of the solid can be derived. crMI Unlike wireframe modeling systems or surface U... the mathematical description of a shape created by a solid modeling system contains infonnation that determines whether any location is inside. For example.

allthe tool paths to ma· .

The modeling function using the revolution of a planar domain is also called swinging.4. This is one reason why nonmanifold modeling systems have been developed. Modeling functions such as primitive creation. The second group is composed of the modeling functions that create a solid by moving a surface. The sweeping function creates a solid by translating or revolving a predefined pla nar closed domain. and the result would be contrary to the original intent of geometric mod eling systems. and rounding typically require only a simple input from the user. But creating a model as a complete solid requires a large amount of input data in propor tion to the amount of data stored in the mathematical description. If a solid modeling system requires direct input of all the information for the mathematical description.3. The skinning function generates a solid by creating the skin surface to enclose a volume when the cross sections of .3 Solid ModdngSystems • 105 chine the volume to be removed from the workpiece. the user may im pose geometric constraints and/or enter dimension data instead of specifying the shape directly. The parameters may be some constants involved in the geometric constraints and/or dimension values. Inthis case the system will generate the exact shape satisfying the dimension data. Hence they are called primitive creationfun ctions. Nonmanifold modeling systems are explained in Section 5. and by adjusting its size. 5.. as the child does when using play dough to make an approximate physical model. and so on). users will feel that it is too complicated and not use it.1 Modeling Functions The modeling functions supported by most solid modeling systems can generally be classified as five groups. tangency between neighboring cir cular arc and line. Here the geometric constraints are the relations between shape ele ments (e. The functions of adding to or subtracting from a solid also belong to this group. Thus changing the geometric constraints and/or di mension data will yield a different planar closed region and resulting solid. lifting. This ap proach is called parametric modeling because various solids are generated by changing the parameters. Hence the developers of solid modeling systems try to provide sim ple and natural modeling functions so that users can manipulate the shape of a solid as they do for a physical model without having to consider the details of the mathe matic31 description.g. which is one of the primitive solids stored in the program in advance. When defining the planar closed domain. perpendicularity between two lines. These capabilities are realized when the model is created as a complete solid. The modeling functions in the first group enable a designer to model a shape that will be close to the final shape quickly. swinging. The first group includes the modeling functions that are used to create a simple shape by retrieving a solid. These functions are called Boolean operations. Boolean opera tions. 5. The process of detailing a shape then will be unlike the intUitive process of physical modeling. Thus the sweeping and skinning functions belong to this group. sweeping. It can do so without generating the tool paths surface by surface that would require user input for each surface. They then take care of all the bookkeeping tasks needed to up date the mathematical description. Nonmanifold modeling systems allow a mixture of surfaces and solids.