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38


FREEFORM 3D MODELING – WITH FEELING A criticism voiced by some physical sculptors about traditional CAD solutions is that they impose more constraints than they are worth.


The artist


can get bogged down in abstract notions, first in learning how to use the complex software, and then again in the mechanics of driving it; so much so that their expressive spontaneity disappears. This is particularly true of 3D modeling packages based on surfaces or solids, which are ideal for smooth, prismatic shapes. Enter FreeForm® – a touch enabled, sculptural


CAD solution from SensAble Technologies that is an increasingly popular choice for designing fine art sculptures and streamlining their efficient manufacturing. (Figure 1) FreeForm is based on voxels – think 3D pixels, volumetric elements in 3D space– like shifting grains of sand in your hand. Voxel technology removes the constraints of topology – mathematical definition, geometry format, and order of operation – found in traditional CAD programs, allowing incredible modeling speed and flexibility.


Most interestingly for sculptors, FreeForm artists use a force feedback haptic device, instead of a computer mouse, to interact with the computer. As the artist intuitively sculpts the on-screen ‘digital clay’ model – simply carving, tugging or smoothing – the haptic device (figure 2) literally pushes back on their hand, just as if they were modeling in the physical world.


Figure 2. SensAble PHANTOM Omni® haptic device. (photo credit: SensAble Technologies)


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