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Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC)

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TIPS & TRICKS Any surface designer will tell you that a surface is only as good as the wireframe it is created from. A quality surface can only be created from quality curves. If we start with low quality curves, we will always get a low quality surface. As a result, the importance of analyzing curve quality cannot be overlooked and should be a necessary step in the design process. Before we can start analyzing a curve, we need to understand what differentiates a good curve from a bad curve. The first thing to analyze is the continuity of the curve. There are three types of continuity - point, tangent, and curvature, with point continuity being the lowest quality and curvature continuity being the best quality. Point continuity occurs when the two curves share a common endpoint.

Tangent continuity occurs when the two curves share a common endpoint and are tangent to one another at that point. Tangent continuity is acceptable for most surfacing applications, with the exception of Class A surfacing. For tangency continuity, the angle can measure either 0 or 180.

Finally, Curvature continuity occurs when the two curves share a common endpoint, are tangent at that point, and have the same radius of curvature at that point. Two circles joined together is a classic example of a curvature discontinuity. If you approach the endpoint from the left, the radius is 40mm, but from the right it is 75mm (see Fig. 3). For curvature continuity, the radius should be the same from both sides.

The first tool that we will take a look at is the curve connect checker. This tool will quickly and easily identify any continuity problems within a single curve or within a network of curves. Simply select the type of continuity to check for, set a tolerance range, and then select the curve or curves to analyze. CATIA will then determine the trouble spots, if any. In the example below (Fig. 4), we are looking for tangency discontinuities that have a deviation greater than .5. CATIA then highlights the problem areas and displays the tangency values. Be careful to interpret the data correctly. At first glance it may appear that there are two tangency problems. However, upon further inspection, you will notice one of the problem areas measures 180, which is actually a tangent continuous situation.

Once you have identified the type of continuity in your curves, the next step is to look at the quality of the curve. Just because a curve is curvature continuous, that does not necessarily mean that the curve is of high quality. To verify this information, we will use the Curvature Analysis Tool. This tool is used to detect curve imperfections that the naked eye may not see. It performs a porcupine analysis on the curve. The spikes are displayed normal to the surface. The magnitude of the spikes is based on the value of the curvature at each point and the direction is based on the curvature direction at that point. An inflection point occurs every time the curvature changes direction (a bump in the curve). Sometimes a curve should have multiple inflection points, but many times this is a signal that the curve is of poor quality.

Now that we know what we are looking for, lets look at an example. In Fig. 6 there are two very similar looking curves, both of which appear two have three inflection points. However, by using the curvature analysis tool, it becomes quite obvious that the bottom curve has some major flaws in it.

The magnitude of the spikes on the curve reveals important information about the curve. When the magnitude of the spikes is small, this indicates a flat region on the curve. When the magnitude of the spikes is large, this indicates a more rounded area on the curve. When transitioning between areas with different curvature, you want

your transition area to be as smooth as possible. Try to avoid sudden peaks and valleys in the graph; this usually indicates a poor transition area.

Conclusion: A high quality surface requires high quality curves. Rather than relying solely on the naked eye to verify the quality of a curve or surface, use the tools available in CATIA. CATIA has a vast array of tools to verify and analyze the quality of curves and surfaces. These tools are very easy to use and can be applied to a curve in seconds. First check the continuity of the curves and then check the quality of the curves, youll be on your way to creating high quality surfaces.

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