Hybrid Modeling in ZW3D: A Highly Flexible Modeling Technology

If you are working on product design with a 3D CAD system, you must know the technology of hybrid modeling, which combines surface modeling and solid modeling methods in one CAD system, and is usually applied to product prototype design or structural design. However, it’s more than a simple combination. What’s the meaning of “hybrid”? Have you ever probed into this concept? Are the current solutions of hybrid modeling “hybrid” enough? To answer these questions, today, I would like to discuss this technology with you.

Figure 1. Apply solid surface hybrid modeling to product design
Figure 1. Apply solid-surface hybrid modeling to product design

Solid Modeling VS Surface Modeling

To help you clearly and completely understand hybrid modeling, I would first introduce solid modeling and surface modeling, which are two mainstream geometric modeling methods composing hybrid modeling.

  • Solid modeling emphasizes on physical fidelity, which represents an object precisely by describing its surface boundary and topological orientation so that we can completely tell the geometric and topological information of the object, including its vertex, edge, face, volume, etc. Solid models are parametric, offering accurate geometric data for editing, engineering analysis and production.
Figure 2. A model created by solid modeling method
Figure 2. A model created by solid modeling method

In contrast, surface modeling describes an object’s exterior by surfaces, which have no thickness and allow overlaps and gaps. With this method, you can create external shapes of an object by stretching infinitesimally thin surfaces over it with 3D curves. Surface modeling is often applied to creating complex or streamlined products. Sports car design is the typical case.

Figure 3. A surface created by surface modeling method
Figure 3. A surface created by surface modeling method

To summarize, solid modeling describes shapes precisely, but it’s a bit time-consuming. Surface modeling creates shapes freely, helping to present products in the short term. However, its results lack the dataset needed for engineering.

Most Hybrid Modeling Methods are Not Hybrid Enough

The choices between solid modeling and surface modeling have plagued designers since the dawn of 3D CAD software. Now, most mainstream 3D CAD solutions have enabled hybrid modeling for engineers to utilize these two methods at the same time. They put solid modeling and surface modeling into one CAD environment, saving your time from switching software.

However, is it hybrid enough to just put these two methods in one CAD system? Think about this question when you need to sew or add thickness to the surfaces every time before turning them into solid, which is probably the most common situation you meet. Or recall those days when you buried in fixing your models before doing mold parting and splitting. If a hybrid modeling technology cannot support doing Boolean operations between solid and surface, it can not truly satisfy users‘needs on product design.

Reading this far, you may wonder can these two modeling methods get truly integrated, achieving more flexible hybrid modeling? In ZW3D, it’s not a daydream.

ZW3D Offers More Flexible Hybrid Modeling

Over the years, the ZW3D team has been working on deeply integrating surface and solid modeling to take full advantage of the strengths of both the two modeling technologies. With its OverdriveTM kernel, the Solid-Surface Hybrid Modeling technology is realized, enabling you to design really flexibly with solids and surfaces simultaneously. What are the unique benefits of hybrid modeling in ZW3D? Let’s see!

  • Doing Boolean Operations with solid and surface simultaneously, which means that you can cut surface with solid and cut solid with surface at the same time. For most 3D CAD software, designers can cut solids with surfaces. Is it possible to also cut surfaces with solids? Using Solid-surface Hybrid Modeling in ZW3D, this can happen. You can freely do Boolean operations, so that shapes or solids can be added to, removed from or intersected into surfaces to get the results you want.
Figure 4. Cut surface with solid
Figure 4. Cut surface with solid

Most commands can be applied to both solids and surfaces. Normally, the commands of solid modeling and surface modeling are separated, which means that you have to learn all the commands and distinguish the differences between them, making your 3D modeling learning curve long. With Solid Surface Hybrid Modeling, this is no longer a burden. It eliminates the barrier between solid modeling and surface modeling, enabling you to use the same set of commands for both solids and surfaces. More convenient, right?

Figure 5. Abundant tools can be applied to both solids and surfaces
Figure 5. Abundant tools can be applied to both solids and surfaces
Figure 6. Apply Fillet command to a surface
Figure 6. Apply Fillet command to a surface

Tiny imperfections won’t restrain your design. It’s common to get imperfect models after importing third-party data or when designing models with complicated structures. Normally, designers have to spend lots of time to make the models watertight before moving to next steps, which would be sometimes wearisome and time-consuming. We must admit that creating a perfect model is a good habit during design. But you don’t have to be a perfectionist all the time when the flaws are not key factors in specific design tasks. When the design flaws are within tolerance, we offer a chance to breathe in case you are trapped in healing models, leaving you more time for more important work. For example, you can do a quick mold parting in ZW3D even though the model is not completely watertight, winning time for quotation and increasing competitiveness.

Figure 7. Do mold parting when the model has a tiny gap
Figure 7. Do mold parting when the model has a tiny gap

It’s Time to Design Products with Highly Flexible Hybrid Modeling

If you are bothered by too rigid solid modeling or insufficiently rigorous surface modeling or get frustrated sometimes to deal with tedious healing work in a not hybrid enough CAD space, I believe you could know the benefits of Solid Surface Hybrid Modeling in ZW3D once knowing how it works. Yes, more flexible, powerful, efficient. Fancy words may not be convincing in today’s market. But true solid-surface hybrid modeling can make a huge change to your work once you use it. If you still doubt it, why not have a try?

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