For organic sculptural modeling, 3D Systems and United Artworks offer Geomagic Sculpt, that uses a “haptic interface” (from a Greek word meaning “to touch”); an articulated arm with force-feedback resistance that actually lets you feel your virtual parts as you work on them in the computer. Developed by Sensable Technologies over the last decade, this product was bought by 3D Systems and incorporated into their product line so they’d have something to offer to right-brained artistic types as well as left-brained engineers. But when they “feel the clay” for the first time, most people say “Wow!” no matter which side of their brains predominate — it adds a whole new dimension to the experience of modeling on a computer that feels natural to those used to working with physical tools on real materials.
The most reasonably-priced iteration of this product is called Geomagic Sculpt, which comes with the free 3D Stylus (while supplies last). It has a collection of simple but powerful tools which are easy to understand and get going with. The basic idea is that when your parts are made from virtual clay that you can push and pull on their surfaces interactively, feeling what you’re doing as well as seeing it, you have a much better degree of control over exactly how their shapes evolve and interact. The inherent ambiguity of seeing a shaded representation of your part and trying to deduce how the form really is shaped is much reduced when you can actually feel it—you can actually work on parts of your model you can’t see in the viewport. 3D models can be imported from 3D scanners or other programs as STL, PLY or OBJ, and converted to the program’s native voxels (volumetric pixels) for styling and elaboration. In the latter two formats, vertex color information is also transferred into the application. One can create forms directly in the program using either basic “primitive” shapes and modifying them with the program’s carving and smudging tools, or start with closed linear shapes, inflating, revolving, extruding, and cutting them with other shapes constructed in the program’s Sketch function. There are tools for smoothing and shaping, mirroring, attracting for embossing and texturing the clay using graphic images, tools for tugging on the surfaces or decimating large models for easy export. It’s even possible to paint directly on the clay with “brush” or “airbrush” tools, or to apply photographs to their surfaces. 3D curves can be imported into the program as IGES or Adobe Illustrator (ai), or curves can be drawn on the clay parts and exported as IGES for surfacing in another program. With the TextureKiln function, it’s possible to “bake” a high-res model onto a low-res armature, so that highly detailed models can used for creating highly detailed animations (in an animation program) without bogging down your system. Once exported to mesh formats (OBJ, PLY, STL and ZCP), models created in Sculpt can be used directly for 3D printing, or run through a CAM program for carving on a CNC machine.
We are bundling this software with the 3D Stylus Haptic Arm Device (not pictured, discontinued by the manufacturer, no returns). For those who want a higher-quality force-feedback articulated arm, we also offer the Touch Haptic Arm Device (pictured, formerly called the Phantom Omni).
Manufacturer: 3D Systems
Includes 1 year software maintenance on the software only. The Haptic Device has been discontinued by the manufacturer and thus cannot be returned.
List Price: $3900
Our Price: $3500