3D Modeling

Flyingshapes Offers Real-Time CAD Surface Modeling in VR

15 Oct, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff

The new virtual reality application relies on handheld controllers, as well as a virtual reality headset, to provide an immersive modeling experience for product designers and architects.

Flyingshapes has launched a CAD application that combines 3D spatial modeling, haptic controls, and tools for sketching, surfacing, and collaboration, all in an immersive virtual reality (VR) environment. Flyingshapes (the application shares the name of the company that develops it) is available for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, and HTC Vive Pro VR headsets; support for additional headsets is reportedly in the works.

Flyingshapes is not the only application of this type on the market — see Gravity Sketch, for one example. The company states, however, that flyingshapes is “one of the first and only tools available that supports professional-grade real-time CAD surface modeling in VR” (Gravity Sketch, in contrast, focuses on conceptual design).

Flyingshapes is targeted at streamlining 3D modeling and design for professionals working in product development, automotive, manufacturing, engineering, architecture, 3D printing, and related fields. By providing an immersive 3D workspace, and the ability to build and manipulate models by hand, the company seeks to help professionals work more efficiently and accurately than they can with 2D screens and traditional input devices.

Automotive designers are part of flyingshapes' market. Image source: flyingshapes.

“We’re leveraging VR technology to solve the challenges and design bottlenecks that hinder traditional CAD workflows,” said Jonas Kunze, cofounder of flyingshapes, in a press release. “Lengthy iteration cycles, communication inefficiencies and discrepancies between the initial prototype and final model waste resources and can delay time to market for new products. We’ve engineered flyingshapes to revolutionize design workflows and help teams maximize time spent perfecting models.”

Modeling and Collaboration Functionality

Users can first create a 3D sketch, then refine it with surface modeling techniques into a final 3D model, working in a “virtual design studio” that allows them to walk around the model to see it from all angles. Thanks to collaboration tools, multiple users can create, modify, and review work in real time, in a shared virtual workspace. Finished models can be exported in file formats including STEP, STL, and IGES for 3D printing or use with traditional CAD applications.

Other tools within flyingshapes include:

  • Curve and Line Tool for refining sketches with B-spline curves and lines
  • Surface Building Tool for building digital models out of smooth surfaces
  • Taping Tool for painting lines with precision
  • Measurement Tools for measuring and defining distances, angles, and volumes
  • Diagnostic and Intelligent Modeling Tools to manage continuity and verify surface quality
  • Positioning Aids allow controlled movements on a single axis or plane, or scaling around the axis within a confined workspace.

Requirements and Availability

Flyingshapes is powered by Unity real-time rendering. The minimum system requirements include:

  • 64-bit processor and operating system 
  • Windows 10 
  • Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 processor 
  • 4 GB of RAM 
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics processing unit (GPU) 
  • Broadband Internet connection 
  • 800 MB of available storage space.

In addition to a supported VR headset, users need a pair of handheld VR controllers, so they can mold and position objects with hand gestures.

The flyingshapes application is available through Steam. The subscription cost for the Standard version starts at about $55 per month; a free version is available for trial, educational, and non-commercial uses. 

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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