Using Imported Data Sets as the Basis for Complex Features (Alibre Design Tips)

31 Aug, 2008 By: Max Freeman

Alibre can enable you to import paths generated from complex parametric equations.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of Alibre.

Sometimes during the design process you will need to use data points as the basis for features. A common example of this includes paths generated from complex parametric equations that would be impossible or prohibitively difficult or time consuming to draw by hand to the precision required. Alibre Design makes importing sets of points easy.

Step 1: Obtaining the Data
There are many ways you may generate the data for your curves. In our example, we've set up an Excel spreadsheet that drives this class of helix. By changing parameters, we can easily create new data and thus new paths for a Sweep operation.

Creating x,y,z data points in Excel.

The final output of your data should be three sets of columns representing the x, y, and z coordinates of the path in sequential order, output as a CSV file. In our case, we would copy the data under our Data section and Paste Special / Values into a separate file.

Note: Do not include headers in your data when importing into Alibre Design. The data must contain only three columns for the x, y, and z points. Also, try to minimize the number of points you import — fewer points means less feature creation time. Of course, you should use as many points as required for the level of precision you are after.

Step 2: Importing the Data Set
In a part workspace, select 3D Sketch / Figures / Insert From File from the menu. Select the CSV file using the Browse button. You can select whether to just insert the points as nodes, to connect the consecutive points with lines, or to interpolate the points into a spline.

Inserting our data.

Step 3: Using the 3D sketch as the Basis for a Feature
We will be fitting the points to a spline. We now have a 3D sketch we can use as the basis for a feature, just like any 3D sketch. We will create a circle on one end and use the 3D sketch as a sweep path to generate a complex spring.

Our imported 3D sketch and a new circular sketch.

The final spring made by sweeping the circular sketch along the 3D Sketch path we imported.

About the Author: Max Freeman

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