Designing for Today: 3D Sculptor

   By Wayne White on January 24, 2022

3DSculptor is a role in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that includes xShape, a powerful Sub-D modeling software. With 3DSculptor, users can create organic shapes easily and interact with discrete, parametric modeling tools like SOLIDWORKS and xDesign. 3DSculptor is an immensely powerful asset in the creation of unique and complex consumer product designs.

For the full walk-through on this project, watch the video below:

In this article:


First, What is xShape?

xShape is a browser-based Sub-D modeling software. Sub-division modeling has revolutionized the way that we create things like bicycle and medical helmets, plastic enclosures, sleds (like we see here) and many consumer products that we take for granted. And what’s better yet – users can run this app on any device, so long as there is a strong Internet connection. Because xShape is so easy to use, users can create concepts immediately – those same concepts can be formalized, revisioned and passed into formal released processes. No more napkin sketches that get tossed by the wayside. These ideas and products can live with your project data, and users can track those changes throughout their lifecycles.

>> What is xShape and How Does it Work?


Where to Start

A common starting point for creating something complex like a winter sled is to use guide-sketch pictures to help in the creation of many complex shapes. As seen below, we start with a few detailed concepts to help guide us in the desired shape.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor where to start

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Keeping it Simple

There’s no better recommendation than to keep the starting steps simple. There are many ways to start our design in xShape – we can start with a solid and sculpt that solid, or start with a surface. For a sled, I’m assuming a constant wall thickness for many reasons, most of which is the type of manufacturing process that will be used. Most likely injection molded. So, I insert my rough sketch picture and a rectangle surface that I’ll use to sculpt. As seen below, the first step is to insert a rectangular surface. It’s a simple surface that we can directly manipulate the form and shape.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor simple surface

The Sculpting Process

And it literally is a sculpting process – resizing, reshaping to get the shape you’re looking for. The shape can behave symmetrically and follow a defined curve. Seen below is the geometry starting to follow the desired conceptual sketches. 
3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Sculpting Process

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Modifying and Adapting

Once we get the top view looking the way we want, I want an area clearly define where the person would sit. I will highlight the faces that I want and drag the faces to the desired depth. As you can see, modifying and adapting the shape is as easy as dragging faces by the handles and following specific curves or orientations if necessary.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Modifying and Adapting

After selecting the faces in the graphic, I can switch to a side view and manipulate those faces more strategically from that orientation. As seen below.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Manipulating Faces


Subdividing the Model

I want to have a bit more control at the outer edges of the sled, so I can select those faces and subdivide them further to get exactly the shape I want in that area.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Subdividing a Model

Below, the subdivided outer region can be seen with further refinement.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Subdividing a Model More Refined

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Adding Loops and Curves

For this sled, I want less contact resistance with the ground. I will insert some additional loops or curves, so I can sculpt the exact ridges I’m looking for.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Loops and CurvesNow, with additional loops or curves, I can select those edges, and manipulate that specific region to lessen the resistance with the ground.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Loops and Curves Refined

Below, you can see those same edges from the front view, where I can again manipulate the robot to adjust the shape of the ridges from that orientation.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Loops and Curves Front View


Finishing Up

All of these edits are fantastic, but I need to make sure the size is correct. As seen below, the bounding box feature lets the user resize the shape with exact dimensions at any stage in the workflow.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor bounding boxThe “thicken command” ensures the sled can be manufactured and provides a solid body to the surface, which directly corresponds to mass properties.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Thicken CommandOnce we define a material, we can start to better understand the engineering output of the sled with the center of inertia and other pertinent mass properties.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Center of InertiaEnsuring that the design can be pulled from a mold tool will be great to ensure it can be injection molded. Draft analysis helps accomplish this.

3DEXPERIENCE 3dsculptor Injection moldedThis sled design has a very complex shape and would have required a much lengthier design time in a traditional 3D modeling software. As you can see, 3DSculptor makes ideation and complex part creation easy and gives these powers to everyone that can ‘sculpt’ digital modeling clay.

Related Products

Browse the TriMech web store for 3DEXPERIENCE Roles and Apps to design, analyze and manufacture your products on the cloud.

Wayne White

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