Freeform and parametric design tools: a match made in CAD

When using many design tools you need to make a choice about how you are going to design your next great product. The choice is either you make as you are designing in your chosen tool, or it is the choice of design tool itself. Design methods range from parametric design, like in SOLIDWORKS, where you add parameters, such as dimensions that control the size and shape of the model, to nonparametric where you push and pull the form of the model with less influence from design rules. Other methods such as direct edit, sub-divisional modeling, history or non-history, are all variations of techniques that fall under the umbrellas of parametric or nonparametric modeling.

This image shows a simple model created using parametric design methodology. Features are defined and edited using sketches and parameters. The order in which you create or edit parent features has knock-on effect to child features. For example, if the fillet is applied to the shelled body, and the shell thickness is made too small to apply, the fillet will fail.

This next image shows the same model created using direct edit methodology. The creation is similar, but when direct edit changes are made, the originating feature is usually converted. The way to make any changes is to push and pull the faces of the geometry. There are positives and negatives to both methods, which is why you will see one company promoting one method as the best, and another company backing the other. Sub-divisional modeling is similar to this direct edit method in that you can push and pull the geometry to make changes.

Time can often be wasted where you start off using one methodology and then realize that you would be better off using a different one. Many tools used by designers today either only allow for one method of working, or will cause issues if you change your mind later in the design.

For industrial design, this limitation magnified by the short lead time of most products; more time spent battling the software means less time spent creating new concept ideas! SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer enables you to use freehand sketching, parametric sketching, freeform sub-divisional modeling, history-based parametric modeling and direct edit. Use any method in any order to capture design idea in the fastest possible way.

In this video you will see a quick workflow showing the freedom to use the right method at the right time. To create this cooking utensil concept, we start from freehand sketches, create a parametric surface, manipulate a freeform (sub-divisional) body and add some parametric patterned holes.

Read more about the capabilities in SOLIDWORKS Industrial Designer in the white paper, “Increase Innovation and Improve Industrial Design with SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design Software.”

Justin Burton

Justin Burton

SOLIDWORKS Senior Product Portfolio Manager