3ders.org – Monolith, Autodesk Acquired 3D Voxel Modeling Design Suite, Receives Major Update

February 24, 2016 | By Benoît

Monolith, a voxel modeling software acquired by Autodesk for 3D printable designs, released a update. New features include a volumetric ray scattering algorithm, UVW texture mapping, and a plug-in for Grasshopper.

Originally developed by Panagiotis Michalatos, assistant professor of architecture at the Harvard School of Design, and Andrew Payne, a graduate of the same institution, Monolith appears to have a bright future following its recent acquisition by 3D software giant Autodesk. . The Monolith 3D Design Suite is one of a handful of applications seeking to revolutionize the way 3D printed designs are created, to facilitate new trends in 3D printing hardware and materials.

With more and more multi-material 3D printers being used in a range of applications, many 3D printing experts have noted the inadequacy of the Dominant Boundary Representation (BREP) paradigm used to produce 3D designs. Although efficient and precise, BREP remains unsuitable for multi-material 3D printing. Monolith introduces a new more appropriate paradigm, working with voxels (volumetric (3D) pixels) to define solid objects as representations of material properties in a 3D volume. Voxels can describe the material properties, color, and density of a specific point in a 3D volume, completely changing the way users approach 3D design and 3D printing.

Monolith has now released a new version (v.0.2.5873.29071) of its stand-alone voxel editor, as well as a public plug-in for Grasshopper, a visual programming environment for Rhino that allows designers to create form builders without knowledge of programming or scripting. The updated Monolith contains five main improvements over its predecessor, released over a year ago.

First of all, the core software technology would have been completely redesigned, making the software faster for all modern operating systems. The Monolith team recently ran tests on their iOS app, which is still in development, and reported top performance on an iPad 2.

The second key update to 3D design software is its “high-level, content-specific user interface”. The entire software design interface has been restructured into three main categories: layer editing, rasterization, and structural analysis. Users can switch between these interfaces depending on the task at hand.

Monolith supports both surface rendering and volumetric rendering, but the latter has received a major overhaul. A new volumetric ray tracing algorithm, the third major software update, results in “significantly more accurate visualizations” than the previous volumetric renderer.

The fourth big improvement to the voxel modeling application is its new approach to applying mesoscopic raster patterns. 2D UV mapping techniques can now be extended with a third parameter determining the propagation of the voxel pattern through the thickness of a solid surface, allowing users to define the flow of micro-patterns. A mesh-based mapping system will allow the propagation of volumetric texture coordinates along any geometry.

The latest cool feature in the new release is its aforementioned Grasshopper plugin, which will offer a suite of tools for building and visualizing voxel-based models with Monolith’s custom OpenGL rendering pipeline. Monolith is currently free to download.

Posted in 3D software

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