|Free form design for molded consumer products|
T-Splines cuts design time by one-half for Millenium Mold Design
Millennium Mold Design, Inc. (MMDI) has served the mold making and molding industries for over 10 years. These industries require highly specialized design work to produce the tooling required for manufacturing molded piece parts. MMDI's goal is to provide a cost-effective, quality-oriented solution to these specialized design problems.
MMDI has standardized on NX CAD software from Siemens PLM to produce 3D solid part models. In general, this software works well for their clients' needs. However, they sometimes have projects that require freeform shapes that are difficult and time-consuming to achieve with NX.
Recently a client requested that MMDI design a freeform watering can based on an existing physical model (there was no CAD data available). He also gave certain criteria that needed to be maintained in the new design:
MMDI encountered a number of road blocks during the design process.
When the deadline approached, MMDI had created the design below, which was manufactured. While the design was satisfactory to the client, it involved significant effort; MMDI ended up spending 22 hours actually modeling this project.
The solution: T-Splines
MMDI was not satisfied with their ability to respond to the customer's demands in this project and embarked on a search for new CAD modeling tools, where they came across T-Splines for Rhino. In a conversation between David Quinn, President of MMDI, and T-Splines, Inc., David explained his past difficulties with freeform modeling, highlighted by this watering can project. T-Splines, Inc. volunteered to redesign the watering can using T-Splines, according to the original design requests, to illustrate how it may be easier to create a freeform surface using T-Splines and Rhino 4.
The results were impressive. Juan Santocono at T-Splines spent 12 hours redesigning the watering can to incorporate more freeform aesthetics, while still respecting the original customer criteria. He was able to get the transition where the handle and the spout met the body to truly appear freeform. He also added some finger grips on the handle and provided some options for the artwork on the side of the watering can, offering both a flower and a terrace option.
The customer was very impressed when MMDI showed him the new watering can design created with T-Splines. Based on the results, the customer has agreed to send future design projects to Millenium Mold. T-Splines has enabled Millenium Mold to become more responsive to its customers and more rapidly generate complex organic designs. David Quinn plans to incorporate T-Splines for Rhino across MMDI as part of their standard design tool portfolio.
The watering can was constructed by transforming an ellipsoid into a T-Splines surface and extruding and shaping faces to generate the spout and the handle. The original watering can design was regularly referred to in order to keep the correct dimensions.
The handle was joined with the body and spout in a perfectly smooth union that gradually washed out into the rest of the body, a key specification of the client.
Another key feature whose inclusion T-Splines simplified was the finger grips. By allowing a concentration of control points just in the grip area, T-Splines gave the advantage of having detail where it was needed while keeping the overall number of control points in the surface manageable. The finger grips were shaped by moving the control points with the T-Splines manipulator. This makes it simple to experiment with different shapes and designs.
Once the main body was modeled, the remaining parts were added. T-Splines' 100 percent compatibility with NURBS allowed NURBS to be used for mechanical parts like the sprinkler head, as well as for blending the decorative sides, which were modeled separately, with the body.
The result was a versatile watering can model ready for further modification, shelling, or manufacturing.