How they create models from almost nothing



As mediators between idea and object, free-form designers create from 4D Concepts models that are sophisticated down to the smallest detail without precise specifications.

The services of the creative designers in the Freeform department of 4D Concepts are specially tailored to the requirements of organic 3D design. As mediators between idea and object, the free form designers are able to create sophisticated models down to the smallest detail without precise specifications. They start where the possibilities of traditional CAD end and can accompany the customer through all iteration stages of design up to 3D design and 3D printing. Using modern software tools, they also create historical reconstructions or forward-looking projections. By Michael Stoecker

A superficial hand sketch, a blurred photo or at best a 2D drawing – there is often not much more on the table when Freeform Designer by 4D Concepts go to work. With creativity and spatial thinking, with extensive experience in organic design and with the help of powerful software tools, they then first create detailed and colored 360 ° images of everything that is far from ordinary or even standardized CAD geometries. It can be imaginative figures or artistic sculptures, amorphous structures or bionic objects and many other creations of asymmetrical, irregular and disordered shapes. Work on the free-form designer begins where classic CAD reaches its limits. As a result, the newly created geometries not only show all the desired aesthetic and functional properties. They can also be used as a process engineering basis for the production of scale-to-scale models in additive or subtractive manufacturing processes.

A typical case for the free form designers from 4D Concepts: There were no CAD data records of the original sculpture (Figure 2a); the scaled-down model (Fig. 2b) was therefore created in creative work, first on screen and finally in 3D printing. Image: 4D concepts

Freeform designers start where classic CAD reaches its limits

Directly at 4D Concepts from the unique pieces in free form for example, in various processes of 3D printing technology real objects is manufactured. This is done almost automatically and mostly overnight in selective laser sintering (SLS), in stereolithography (STL), in ColorJet Printing (CJP) or in MultiJet Printing (MJP). “Our freeform designers need little more than nothing to create objects that appear on the screen as virtual 3D views and then appear as physical 3D models. Sometimes an incomplete description, a random drawing, or an image from an old catalog enough as a starting point for the creative work, ”says Co-CEO Alex Di Maglie. The 3D-printed models are made of high quality plastic or mineral composite materials. Depending on the requirements and the manufacturing process, oversized models are also possible.

Freeform designer from 4D Concepts at work: based on vague descriptions from the customer – a well-known toy manufacturer – she creates the model of a dinosaur. Image: 4D concepts

Modeling in free space

Intuition, creativity and up-to-date knowledge of what is technically possible are as much a part of the daily tools of the freeform designers at 4D Concepts as their ability to handle the complex 3D applications in this field. The focus is on the working medium Geomagic Freeform software from 3D Systems. It is currently one of the premier solutions for professional creation of organic hybrid designs and is designed for use in scan-to-print and CAD-to-manufacturing processes. The user acts primarily via a haptic force feedback control module, where he senses and performs all functions with a trackball-coupled pen. With this pen he can model and design freely in the room.

“This tactile creative tool can be used to digitally model very accurately and efficiently. “Combined with the software’s far-reaching capabilities, it enables the execution of all morphing functions such as drawing, pressing, cutting, kneading or leveling, as well as structuring, texturing and coloring surfaces,” explains Alex Di Maglie. Concepts, for example, reproduce every pattern, every conceivable structure and the finest color shades with great accuracy and attention to detail.

Reconstruct and design

IN early stages of design orientation or product development, which is primarily about depicting vague ideas, digital freeforming can also be used for future projections or reconstructions. For example, the specialists at 4D Concepts can recreate destroyed buildings, lost works of art or lost components using old drawings or faded photos – first on the screen and then in 3D print.

With over 25 years of experience in model and prototype construction and a range of services covering all process stages from design to series production, 4D Concepts is one of the leading medium-sized development service providers in Germany. The company defines itself as a creative technology workshop with a clear focus on personal and collaborative project work. “Openness and trust have always been among the cornerstones of our actions. In this way, we do not distinguish between a small customer who needs a single spare part or a large customer who orders 100 models or prototypes a year, ”emphasizes CEO Alex Di Maglie.

Mal Vorstufe, mal Endergebnis

Je nach Zielsetzung kann eine im Freiformen erstellte 360°-Abbildung bereits das finale Wunschergebnis eines Modellbau-Projekts sein oder aber die Vorstufe zur Erstellung des Datensatzes für die normgerechte 3D CAD-Konstruktion bzw. den 3D-Druck. Als Resultat des 3D-Drucks wiederum liefert 4D Concepts seinen Kunden dann ein- oder mehrfarbige und maßstabsgerechte Modelle aus technischen Kunststoffen und Mineralverbund-Werkstoffen. Diese Modelle zeichnen sich durch eine hohe Detailtreue aus und dienen – insbesondere in Architektur und Stadtplanung – vorrangig der Präsentation, Anschauung und Validierung. Werden höherwertige Kunststoffe verwendet, können sie allerdings auch funktionelle Anforderungen erfüllen.

Picture above: For example legends: Based on a record cover by the Swedish music group Amon Amarth, the freeform designers at 4D Concepts created Jomsviking, a member of the legendary Nordic mercenary company of the same name. Image: 4D concepts

Further information:

Learn more about accelerated processes in reverse engineering here.

Also read: “Process optimization: Why machine builder KTR is dependent on an e-procurement platform”

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