What is 3D Sculptor and What Happened to xShape?

You’ve likely heard about xShape, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and 3D Sculptor at one point or another on a webcast, online or maybe from a colleague or your SOLIDWORKS reseller, and might be wondering if they are related.

3D Sculptor, which includes the xShape app, is a 3D design solution on the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform.  It helps you create organic surfaces easily using subdivision (Sub-D) modeling technology.

For those of you who have used xShape already or are familiar with what it is, don’t worry, the “application” xShape didn’t go away, it’s just been included inside a “role,” which is called 3D Sculptor.

What is a role you may ask?  Think of a “role” like a sports equipment bag.  When you go off to play a specific sport, say hockey, you have specific equipment.  When you go off to ski, you take a different set of equipment.  In these cases your “role” is a hockey player or a skier.  Inside your equipment bag you will have many different pieces of equipment to get the job done.  For hockey, you need skates, a stick, a puck, a helmet and shin guards.  For skiing you need boots, poles and skis.

Think of xShape, the application, as a piece of equipment.  Without it you can’t perform your role, but it may not be the only piece of equipment you need.  Today, 3D Sculptor contains only the xShape app, however in the future we envision it will include other applications to enable more capabilities.

OK, but why would I need 3D Sculptor and what can I do with it?

As explained above, the role 3D Sculptor contains the application xShape, which is a browser-based 3D Sub-D modeling application that enables industrial designers, engineers and artists to create highly stylized ergonomic and organically shaped models faster and more easily than traditional parametric tools. Built on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, 3D Sculptor complements the parametric workflows of desktop-based SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD as well as cloud-based solutions, such as 3D Creator, which includes the xDesign app.

Super-fast and flexible 3D concept modeling

Often, early in the concept phase of a design, you just want to make several highly stylized concept models quickly so you can share these designs with colleagues, your management and even customers.  Rendering 3D models allows others to see life-like versions of your design that they can interact with in 3D, while 3D printing these designs allows others to actually hold them in their hands so they can see what they feel like and even understand better how they perform.

In these cases, 2D-sketched images just won’t do, and traditional 3D parametric modeling tends to be too slow due to the amount of construction geometry, such as curves and sketches, that have to be created to control the shape of the geometry.  In addition, when I need to tweak this geometry, I often have to start my 2D drawings over and even my 3D parametric model might require extensive reconstruction to attain the new shape desired.

When it comes to having to do it fast and still have the ability to make major geometry design changes quickly, nothing beats subdivision modeling for speed and flexibility.

Create exactly what you want in 3D without the need to be an expert

The other big use case for 3D Sculptor is in creating the surface exactly the way it needs to be.  Many artists, designers and even expert CAD users can be stumped trying to make that little tweak to the shape that makes it just right.  Let’s face it, parametric surface modeling can be difficult and often requires expert knowledge to be able to make the exact shape you want.  Subdivision modeling, however, is a whole different animal.  Instead of setting up construction geometry to drive surfaces, you can quickly shape your models using push-and-pull direct interaction with the model.  The learning curve is very short, making 3D Sculptor more accessible to everyone, even people who only use the tool occasionally.

Design free of costly hardware restrictions

In addition to being easy to learn and use, 3D Sculptor runs on the cloud, in a browser, and does not require software downloads or expensive hardware to run it.  This also frees you up to work from anywhere there is an internet connection so you can design, share with and comment on others designs and edit designs anytime, anywhere.

There is an app for this!

Finally, since 3D Sculptor runs on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, you have access to a plethora of other solutions on the platform to get your job done from sharing your designs to managing data, product lifecycle, projects and beyond.  Just like your smartphone has apps that help you be more productive, chances are the 3DEXPERIENCE platform has the tool engineers, artist and designers need to create awesome products. And since these solutions all run on the 3DEXPERIENE platform, they work together seamlessly.

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien is a 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS Senior Portfolio Manager with over 30 years of CAD and industry experience - engineer, consultant, CAD product manager, CAD company co-founder. Currently, serving as Senior Product Manager for SOLIDWORKS and 3D Mold Creator. Craig has a B.S.M.E. from WPI and is a Graduate of General Electric's Manufacturing Development Program.