Industrial Design

solidThinking 8.0 Puts Emphasis on Creativity for Industrial Designers

3 Oct, 2009 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

3D modeling and rendering solution delivers restyled user interface and other new features including optional Inspired module for generating design options inspired by nature.

SolidThinking has launched the newest version of its flagship 3D industrial design, integrated modeling, and rendering solution — solidThinking 8.0. The hybrid NURBS-based solid and surface modeler is designed to emphasize creativity and innovation and facilitate research, experimentation, and exploration in the early stages of product development, the company states. Available for Windows and Mac OS X platforms, the software is interoperable with every CAD/CAM/CAE system on the market, according to Alex Mazzardo, solidThinking vice-president of product strategy and marketing.

“Through our latest release, we offer new ways for industrial designers to enrich and accelerate design inspiration,” said Mazzardo. “In addition to inviting users to free their minds from technological constraints, solidThinking aims to maximize value and provide cost-saving 3D design solutions.”

Enhanced capabilities of solidThinking 8.0 include:

  • restyled and more streamlined user interface enabling better workflow
  • new 3D manipulators for translation, scaling, and rotation
  • enhancements to point, curve, and surface representation for greater precision and improved ease of use
  • new options for interactive visualization in the modeling views, including wireframe on shaded model and environment maps
  • a wizard to help users choose the ideal modeling units and tolerances based on the size of the model
  • real-time rendering to further improve interactivity during the review and visualization phases of design
  • progressive rendering for immediate feedback on the final image with a fast preview of the lighting and materials in the scene; subsequent rendering passes that continue to fill in detail until the final high-quality image is achieved
  • rerendering of selected subregions of an existing image
  • new materials library functionality with faster material browsing and previewing, environment maps, and scene sets as well as the ability for users to create multiple materials libraries
  • optimized final gather for increased rendering speed and lighting accuracy
  • ambient occlusion for greater depth, performance, and realism in the photorealistic rendering phase
  • new complex reflectance shaders for generating more lifelike visual elements, including the ability to integrate and create glossy and blurred reflections, frosted glass, car paints, plastic, and metallic effects
  • high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) capabilities and the ability to create spherical images that can be visualized in the background of perspective views while modeling
The basic layout of the solidThinking user interface can be customized so users can easily find the ideal configuration for a project.


ConstructionTree functionality allows designers to edit parameters in the model history at any time and see the model updated automatically, or to model directly. New progressive rendering means designers can see rendering updates as they go, for the entire model or just a selected portion.

New 8.0 Inspired Builds on Design Laws of Nature
solidThinking also released 8.0 Inspired for industrial designers and architects, a module for use with solidThinking 8.0. Inspired introduces morphogenesis, the company’s new design exploration technology based on the laws of nature and biomimicry that influence the growth of bone tissue and how its structure is influenced by stresses in its environment. Morphogenesis essentially examines an existing design and asks, “What would nature do?” then generates options that the designer might not have considered.  

After defining environments around the models, the user executes the morphogenesis form-generation technology to grow efficient shapes in response to various environments and controls.


Darren Chilton, senior industrial designer and product specialist at solidThinking, said, “With Inspired, you can try to be analytical and drive toward one answer, but more often [as an industrial designer] you are looking for many different starting points. This gives industrial designers another avenue to explore options, which is a big deal.” And, Chilton added, “You now have information and security there that give you more confidence that your design will work structurally. The result, solidThinking believes, is ultimately a faster, more cost-effective product development cycle.

The New York Times brought attention to the new morphogenesis tool in an article posted recently on its Bits blog, “SolidThinking Has a Bone to Pick With Designers,” which stated, “As solidThinking sees it, this technique can lend a fresh, naturalistic look to anything from a watch to a bridge or stadium.”

solidThinking is in use worldwide by thousands of designers of furniture, electronic devices, automobiles, lighting, shoes, jewelry, timepieces, sports equipment, boating, consumer packaging, and other products, according to the company, for companies and brands such as Azimut Yachts, Bulgari, Cartier, Diesel, DuPont, Fujitsu, Hugo Boss, Italdesign Giugiaro, Korg, MacGregor Golf, Mares, Masterfoods, Merck, Nestle, Nikon, Panerai, Peg Perego, Pininfarina, Scavolini, Thomson, Tisettanta, Toshiba, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

Request a free trial version of solidThinking 8.0 via the company’s web site.

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson