MESH Unfolder v3 - The 3D Mesh Unfolding Software
Released On: 14 June 2012
MESH UNFOLDER is very powerful CAD software that is able to unfold 3D CAD designs that are more general than the design set of Sheet Lightning v6, defined by 3D mesh surfaces or surface models. A mesh can be created
in most CAD systems, such as Autocad, exported to a DXF/STL/OBJ/WAV file, then imported and unfolded in the Mesh Unfolder software.
Download the demo or buy the software from our Download Page.
How does it work?
Mesh Unfolder works with 3D mesh data generated in a general CAD design program such as Autocad. It imports DXF/STL/OBJ/WAV file data that was exported from a CAD system. It extracts the 3D meshes (see later),
unfolds (i.e. flattens) the mesh (by minimising tensions). It provides tools to split the mesh into sections if required before unfolding, unfold it, and then export the result to CAD or CAM systems, or to print it
full size on any size of printer with the pattern/s partitioned over as many sheets as required - for manufacture..
Mesh Unfolder was originally created and used for boat design to unfold complex 3D panels. Since its release to boat construction companies it has been applied to many other designs - including Tents, Shoes,
Aerofoils and generally to many difficult 3D sheet metal designs. The product is easy to use requiring only import-process-export design cycle. It is designed for use with a CAD system such as Autocad that can be
used to design the 3D meshes.
Fig: Showing an imported 3D mesh design created in a CAD System.
Fig: Shows the unfolded patterns of the rowing boat design above.
The mesh program tackles the difficult problem of converting a 3D formed surface into a 2D unfolded pattern. The problem is that designs like these have tensions in the surface arising from the
deformation in material when the product is formed. Mesh Unfolder reverses the process to calculate the best result - i.e. the result with the most even tension distribution.
MESH UNFOLDER is a very powerful and versatile tool. When combined with skills in general CAD environments, such as Autocad, meshes can be create from lines, arcs and spline curves to form
any shape (see the CAD system instructions). The rowing boat is a good example of this kind of application. It is then simply a case of exporting the design to DXF from the CAD system and
importing into MESH UNFOLDER. With a few parametric selections and the click of a command the mesh can be unfolded and seamlessly exported back to the CAD system, or saved to file.
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AUTOCAD has a number of 3D meshing facilities. One way is to create a solid model and use STLOUT to export the surface to a CAD file. Another powerful is the commands EDGESURF with
SURFTAB1 and SURFTAB2. The EDGESURF command allows any four enclosing sides of a 3D polygon to be selected and it generates a mesh between these edges. This facility can be used to
generate many designs using 3D surfaces. MESH UNFOLDER then steps in with its unique technology to unfold/flatten these designs. the product is proving extremely powerful for many sheet material manufacturers.
Mesh Unfolder can also be used as a file conversions tool. Not all CAD systems provide importing facilities for the supported file type - such as STL files. Mesh Unfolder can be used to simple load the 3D geometry and save it in DXF format, which is supported by most systems.