Design Visualization

First Look Review: FreeDimension v1.1 Beta

29 Oct, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

In its preliminary form, this 3D surfacing software shows promise.

FreeDimension v1.1 Beta
Pros: Speedy; many design options; lots of potential.
Cons: Still in beta testing; an incomplete feature set at the time of review.
Price: $495 base package (estimated at time of review, final price TBD)


Cadalyst doesn't typically review beta software, but occasionally a product with a lot of promise comes along and we opt to give it a preliminary look. One such product is FreeDesign's FreeDimension software, which at the time of review was in beta testing as v1.1.

FreeDimension features an innovative 3D surfacing technology that gives users the opportunity to easily create, manipulate and stylize 3D models -- that they can then import and render in applications such as Autodesk's 3ds Max.

FreeDimension is based on a patented innovation -- NSS (N-Sided Surfaces). NSS allows surfaces to be created using as many sides as needed. FreeDimension offers a rich set of tools to help shape curves and surfaces organically and invisibly control surface tangency across curves. Although you might expect complexity from the interface of an application that accomplishes these feats, FreeDimension's interface is simple and intuitive -- as are the available tools. An excellent Help system, animations and tutorials on the company's Web site all provide an overview of how FreeDimension works and how you can use it in your day-to-day work.

FreeDimension features breakthrough 3D surfacing technology that enables users to create and stylize 3D models. This image was modeled in FreeDimension and then rendered in Autodesk 3ds Max.

FreeDimension is very flexible. Your design starts with and maintains a watertight solid -- no surface patches are stitched together to form inaccurate curves. You can manipulate and precisely calculate the position and shape of the curves. Freeform surfaces are simultaneously generated to pass through those curves, and then you can adjust the curves and slopes to achieve the desired shape.

At present, FreeDimension supports Google KMZ files for import, and STL and OBJ files for export. The first release of the product is expected to import SketchUp SKP, and export SKP, STL and Wavefront OBJ, plus POV. IGES and DXF export (and possibly other 3D CAD formats) are anticipated in upcoming releases, according to the company. This file support ensures users can easily move FreeDimension models into a range of visualization applications. Being curve based, FreeDimension models are typically a fraction of the size of their CAD counterparts.

System requirements for FreeDimension v1.1 beta are a Windows-based PC, using Windows XP Home or Pro, and Windows Server 2003. The software does not support Windows 2000. It also requires Open-GL compliance, minimum 1GB processor recommended. You'll need an Internet browser for viewing online Help and a Windows Media Player for viewing the online Help animations.

Pricing for FreeDimension has not yet been finalized but is expected to be in the vicinity of $495. For additional details about this product, as well as a variety of tutorials that show its capabilities, visit the FreeDesign Web site. You can also download a time-limited trial version of FreeDimension.

FreeDimension shows a lot of promise and is well worth evaluating for product or 3D game design, industrial design, inventing, engineering and film/entertainment applications. Fast and easy to use, FreeDimension lets you create complicated geometry for use in a number of major design applications.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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