As the 2015 release of solidThinking Evolve starts to make its way onto the desktops of engineers the world over, TCT gets a look at what’s new in the latest offering from the leading design software.
solidThinking Evolve 2015 is the most substantial release to date packed with a host of new features to meet the demands of the traditional, industrial design user.
When you first look at Evolve, the number of buttons and options packed in the sidebar can appear quite daunting for any newbie to the 3D modelling world. But that’s not the case at all, what the team behind Evolve have created is a simplified way of creating and visualising products that can be applied to real life manufacturing environments.
The main headlines in this version of Evolve are the new PolyNURBS toolset, Evolve’s version of Polymesh modelling with automatic conversion to surface or solid geometry, which has been improved to increase functionality and robustness. The second major news is the complete redesign of the software’s next-generation rendering tool for photorealistic rendering with a brand new engine and user interface.
Darren Chilton, Program Manager at solidThinking showed us how the new PolyNURBS feature works starting by converting a polygonal model to an organic NURBS surface in just a few short clicks.
“We have changed everything,” Darren explained. “Starting with something that got spit out from Inspire [Evolve’s sister product], we really want to create this geometry and the PolyNURBS tools and the workflow is how that works. The magic with all this is this Nurbify option. Any time you click on Nurbify it converts it to continuous NURBS surfaces. So behind the scenes it does a sub division type process but the result is a polygonal geometry that I can go to manufacturing with.”
In addition to this, everything the user does is retained in construction history. This means that Polymesh objects can be used with all surface and solid modelling tools and is beneficial for collaborative projects where files can be sent out and accepted into any CAD tool or even 3D printed. The software covers the three main areas of modelling including solid modelling, surface modelling and polygonal modelling all controlled in construction history. Darren says this feature has introduced Evolve to a completely new user base.
“This has opened up a huge new world for us and we’re getting tonnes of demand from engineers,” explained Darren. “It’s been a little bit surprising because now we’ve got guys that aren’t really traditional CAD guys but they need a way to create this geometry really quickly without being a guru of solid or surface modelling so a really quick, easy way for them to jump in and get started.”
Back in the early 1990’s the idea behind Evolve was to create a hybrid modelling system. It’s quick, accessible and provides users with different options that allow varying levels of control from simple to advanced settings. More seasoned users can really benefit from being able to customise their designs with textures, colour and material choices but even those with little training can achieve high-quality, photorealistic results – all in the same package.
“Over the last couple of years there’s been a lot of buzz around hybrid modelling systems,” Darren commented. “Our approach from the very beginning was to create this hybrid modelling system that did everything all in one. So if you were going to build something like a hybrid vehicle you wouldn’t start with one vehicle or the other you would start with a brand new platform that did exactly what it was supposed to do. As a result you come out with something that is very unique and highly functional in the way it’s supposed to work.”
Evolve rendering with material and colour options.
Enhancements to the rendering tool now allow materials, environment and rendering properties to be modified in the Control Panel to create life-like models with ease. The new rendering toolprovides three options including, “full” mode photorealistic compressive which can give perfect examples of caustics and how light reactions to a model. The second is “performance” which, though not as physically accurate as full mode, is also a progressive option that keeps working and improving the render. Finally “ray tracing” provides a finite end so it starts from the middle and renders the model to a finished point.
solidThinking Evolve allows industrial designers to develop forms faster from an initial sketch, allowing exploration of styling alternatives without the constraints of engineering orientated tools and accurate visualisation.
“From a more traditional, industrial design customer they were really asking for more flexibility,” Darren said. “The major complaint or request that we were hearing was there’s so much that happens before you’ve figured out exactly what you want to produce, so we needed a tool that was better at helping us explore and figure out what is the final thing that we want to make.”
Coffee pot designed in Evolve.
As a result, the team isn’t just looking at Evolve as purely a model builder and instead is focused on the entire process of design from idea to manufacturing. This latest version of Evolve does just that by going from sketch to photorealistic render without the need for intense training of shifting from product to product.
“We’re working on tools and processes and workflows that help designers make that transition from 2D to 3D,” Darren explained. “Most designers use Photoshop or a similar product so we’re looking at better ways to integrate with Photoshop and Illustrator to help the workflow back and forth between 2D and 3D.”
solidThinking Evolve 2015 is available to trial and download here.