SOLIDWORKS 2019 Favorite Feature – 3D Texture

Part models are the foundation of every 3D design in SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS 2019 adds new capabilities to create more complex geometry and ensure manufacturability of parts even earlier in your process. In this blog, I explore the 3D Texture feature, which transforms 2D pictures to 3D geometry. The resulting graphics body can then be used for additive manufacturing or enhancing visual appearances. Check out my 3-minute video demo below or continue reading:

Let’s take a look at a quick example of Knurling, which is typically a diamond-like texture, machined on a gripping surface. Below is a foot peg from the URB-E Sport personal electric vehicle, which must provide the rider a secure place to rest a variety of footwear during urban commute.

How do we represent this in SOLIDWORKS? The most basic way is to Specify a note on a 2D drawing. I don’t capture the actual geometry, but I can indicate it enough to get this machined — however I can’t experience it until it comes back from the shop.

I can apply more realistic visual representations with RealView Appearances. Even more real, I can Render with displacement map and experience the knurling virtually using SOLIDWORKS VIsualize. This is still an illusion though since it’s not actually modeled in 3D.

With SOLIDWORKS 2019, 3D Texture brings the knurling to life with no modeling required.

All this requires is a simple drag and drop of a 2D grayscale image on to a face, just like a decal or an appearance. With the 3D Texture command, I generate the knurling in 3D by specifying a few parameters which control the underlying meshing technology,as well as intensity of the texture.

You can see the diamond points of the knurling quite well here! This is much faster than parametric Modeling of the knurling, which is overkill in the prototype phase. I can print this for prototype, especially if i were evaluating multiple texture options. In the concept phase, 3D TEXTURE is a shortcut for generating variety of textures and geometry.

Common use cases could include: Grips, complex Patterns, aesthetic surfaces, really anything with texture. Check out the consumer products around you now! I can use this resulting body directly for 3D printing, think about prototyping creative options. As we know, emerging 3D printing business models could be enhanced with this functionality. For example, Mass Customization, which is one-off products precisely adjusted to needs of buyers.

A fun example I explored was taking a flat scan of my hand and was able to create a pretty cool custom grip. This could be 3D Printed and the ergonomics would be perfect for me.

Or, remember the MYOMO orthotic from SOLIDWORKS 2017 launch? A component like this arm band might be printed for each patient, so we might as well add some 3D logo for branding!

3D Texture is part of SOLIDWORKS broader strategy to embrace the “evolution of design for 3D printing,” according to our CEO Gian Paolo Bassi.

3D Texture requires converting the work body in to a Mesh Body to apply the texture. The result can be saved right to STL for 3D printing. The original solid B-REP body is hidden. You can continue and convert to a Solid Mesh Body an leverage the workflows enabled by 2018.

Part modeling is all about flexibility of creating geometry and speed in capturing accurate design intent. I hope you find inspiration to create awesome designs using SOLIDWORKS 2019!


Brian Zias

Brian Zias

Senior Territory Technical Manager at Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS
Brian is a 15-year, expert SOLIDWORKS CAD, FEA, and CFD user and community advocate. His interests include engineering, simulation, team leadership, and predictive analytics. Brian holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA in Data Science.
Brian Zias
Brian Zias