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SensAble Announces Newest Version of FreeForm 3D Modeling System


Better design for manufacturability, faster time to market and lower product costs

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 2 -- SensAble Technologies, a leading provider of touch-enabled 3D modeling applications, dental restoration design and fabrication solutions and haptic devices, announced the availability of a new version of its FreeForm 3D modeling system that streamlines digital workflows for both designers and engineers who create complex, organically-shaped products. This software allows companies to deliver on the promise of digitally-driven product design, where time and cost efficiencies are finally realized.

The FreeForm Version 11 software release -- one of the most comprehensive in FreeForm's history -- allows product designers with hard-to-manufacture goods, including toys, collectibles, patient-specific implants, jewelry, coins and other highly sculptural works, to drastically shorten the design and review process and get products to manufacturing far more efficiently. In addition to new design functionality, the software includes advanced tools that enable designers to analyze how easily their models can be manufactured -- reducing engineering reviews and design iterations, and expensive and time consuming retooling costs. SensAble is showcasing this new FreeForm version at the EuroMold conference in Frankfurt today through December 4, 2010.

"SensAble has introduced new features in FreeForm version 11 that have improved on an already exceptional 3D modeling program," said Nick Whitmore, digital sculptor specializing in toy design at designworks group, a worldwide design consultancy with offices in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia. "Version 11's enhanced tools for prepping our models for manufacturing are so fast that we've reduced the time involved in fixing undercuts by 75 percent. We simply design in Freeform, then send digital files directly to the manufacturers for tooling and molding for incredible efficiency."

"I use FreeForm every day in my workflow and it's essential in my ability to quickly produce high quality products for my clients," said Harry Hamill of Colorado Springs, Colo., a designer specializing in organic, sculpted jewelry. "Refinements have made v11 much more efficient -- for example, the ability to apply changes to multiple pieces of a model simultaneously, such as clay resolution or deformation, can save a substantial amount of time over the course of a day. The new Lattice Deform tool is fantastic for quickly applying complex, smooth deformations to a piece, and the new enhancements to the Ridge tool make it far more powerful."

Instead of designing digitally by holding a computer mouse, FreeForm users hold a 3D 'Virtual Touch' stylus that provides force feedback -- literally pushing back on the users hand so they "feel" the 3D model they are designing and viewing on the computer screen. Using their sense of touch in this way allows designers to work faster and more efficiently while creating complex organic shapes and intricate, sculptural details.

"With FreeForm v11, we make it even easier for design professionals to produce better products faster," said Joan Lockhart, vice president of marketing at SensAble. "Today's time and cost pressures mean product design teams must work together more effectively than ever before. Designers, engineers, mold makers; everyone in the process is looking for the best digital workflows and tools for the job. Our customers give us incredibly helpful input about the functionality they need, and SensAble is pleased to provide them with innovative and practical suites of tools in FreeForm that they can rely on from concept to manufacturing."

Highlights of FreeForm v11

  • Streamlined concept design and modeling

o Innovative Incorporation of Detail into Solid Models. New parasolid editing features enable seamless transference of detail onto a solid model from virtual clay. With the new "sculpt and refit" process, FreeForm now eliminates any need for surfacing, cutting, trimming, or stitching of the original solid-based model.

o More sophisticated, complex deformations. A new Lattice Deform tool provides an interactive way to target and restrict deformations to very specific areas of the model -- or allow multiple pieces to be deformed as a single unit. For example, working with a multi-piece model of a toy soldier with an intricately detailed uniform and accessories, the designer can simultaneously re-proportion the 3D shapes of all items at once.

  • New and improved workflows

o Faster work with complex solid models such as in medical applications. Users can quickly define volumetric shapes with a simple curve network, and then with one click, create a solid model -- a workflow that is extremely well-suited to creating patient-specific implants with speed and accuracy.

o Fast vacuum-formed packaging for complex organic shapes. A new Fill to Plane model prep tool dramatically simplifies the creation of the core -- the positive of the model -- for the main tooling used in the creation of vacuum-formed packaging.

  • Faster prepping of models for manufacturing tooling, whether for mold making, core creation, or die creation for stamping.

o Efficient Family Mold Design. Using new Import/Export via XML feature, FreeForm users can easily position low-resolution copies of the model pieces to quickly decide the most efficient layout for the family mold. Upon import of the layout positioning into the high resolution model, all pieces automatically move to those positions -- a significant time-saver.

o Fast Creation of Transitional Mold Parting Surfaces. The new Ring Patch tool quickly creates transitional surfaces from a perimeter parting line to the main parting surface of a mold, saving hours of design time.

o New Parting Line Analysis Function. This feature pinpoints part-to-curve gaps, allowing the designer to address problems more quickly.

o Enhanced Analysis Tools. Analyze Fit displays color layers that make it easy for users to assess and adjust how closely two pieces of a model fit together -- especially helpful when creating patient-specific implants. Also using color mapping, the new Analyze Thickness tool helps designers minimize excess material costs, design for part strength and accommodate injection molding requirements relating to material flow and cooling.

Availability and Pricing

FreeForm v11 is currently available on new systems, and customers with current maintenance contracts have begun receiving their free software update either from SensAble or their local reseller. Customers without software maintenance should contact SensAble for options to upgrade their software. Contact SensAble online or call 781-939-7457 for additional information.

About SensAble Technologies

Founded in 1993, SensAble Technologies is the leading developer of 3D touch-enabled (force feedback) solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually "feel" it. With 41 patents granted and over 8,000 systems installed worldwide, SensAble Technologies' haptic technology is being used in applications ranging from designing toys and footwear, to surgical simulation and stroke rehabilitation, to dental restorations, as well as a range of research and robotic applications. The company markets its own 3D modeling solutions as well as its haptic devices and developer toolkits to medical, dental, design, and manufacturing companies; educational and research institutions; and OEMs. SensAble products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide. www.sensable.com.

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Source: SensAble Technologies, Inc.

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