FloTHERM’s strength has always its been its robustness, founded on a simplicity of technology that we’ve tried not to compromise over its 25 year life. This is no truer than in its 3D CAD drawing interface. More Lego than Sculpting in its capabilities, it’s always been quick and easy to mock up a conceptual cooling architecture for a proposed design. FloTHERM V10 provides a step change in usability when it comes to such 3D sketching.
FloTHERM’s CAD drawing interface is not a fully fledged 3D MCAD type environment. Geometry isn’t based on sketches extruded into features and such like. (For that fully MCAD enabled FloTHERM experience we’ve developed FloTHERM XT). FloTHERM has a set of primitive shapes out of which geometry is created, either manually using click/drag or automatically created by converting existing MCAD geometry into these primitives using the FloMCAD Bridge window. Such an approach isn’t new. Lego has been around since 1932 and if anything it’s popularity is greater now than ever before. Maybe due to the very low barrier to adoption, it’s simple, and fun!
The display of the geometry in FloTHERM’s Drawing Board has to date been rendered in wireframe only. In recent years as the size and complexity of FloTHERM models has exploded due to 64 bit support and the lifting of the lid on the old 32 bit 2GB (3GB with a trick) addressable memory limit. Trying to manipulate geometry in wireframe only is notoriously difficult. So in V10 we added the option to render geometry as solid.
Objects can be translated, resized, rotated in either view, including a new cursor change on mouse over a grab handle. Speaking of views, to the 4 view /1 view option we’ve added a couple of 2 viewport modes (horizontal and vertical) as well as the ability to resize each view port:
All the the existing view manipulation short cuts have been retained; f(irst angle projection), t(hird angle projection), r(efit) etc. as well as an extremely useful new shortcut v(iew selected) where the view will be zoomed into the currently selected object(s). [Menu entry equivalents exist for all shortcuts of course]
2D shape manipulation in Microsoft Office products has always been intuitive. In the 3D FloTHERM CAD environment we’ve replicated some of that simplicity. The existing ‘snap to object’ snap mode, where an object will snap to another one on a move or resize as soon as object being moved gets to within a few pixels of another object, has been given a keyboard equivalent. Pressing the Alt key together with a keyboard arrow key will move an object in that coordinate direction, snapping to the next object edge in that direction. Going one step beyond Microsoft, in addition to the standard left, right, up etc. align options we’ve also added an ‘Align to Center’ option that’s proving to be repeatedly useful!
“It’s not called modelling for nothing”. You can use Lego to build models of a range of different things, from buildings to spaceships to dinosaurs to computers 🙂
4th June 2014, Ross-on-Wye