Advanced Modelling of 3D Rotary Projects

Modelling 3D spiral features

In this section we will show how to use level-wrapping feature to wrap a design in spiral manner around a column.

The workflow for creating spiral toolpaths has been presented in the Simple rotary modelling using 2D toolpaths chapter. The basic idea involved creating a line at a proper angle to the rotation axis, that exceeded the 2D boundaries. When 2D toolpath is created based on such a line, it will be wrapped around material cylinder, creating a spiral.

This guide will build on that basic idea. The task is to create a horizontal strip with desired pattern and then wrap it like a ribbon around the cylinder.

To help with that task, it is important to create some helpful vectors first. We need to create lines, that will become boundaries of our strip. In this example the strip was being wrapped four times around full length of material. This example assumes that rotation axis is parallel to X axis.

To start, select Draw Line/Polyline tool and draw a horizontal line at the bottom of the job from left to right. If it is desired for the spiral pattern to only fill part of the cylinder length, this horizontal line should be drawn only in th desired location. While the drawing tool is still active, type 90 into Angle box and type y * 4 into Length box and pressing =. We used y * 4 formula so the strip will wrap 4 times. Then press Add button to add a vertical segment.

Now, start a new line that connects the horizontal and vertical lines, forming a triangle. Once this line is created, horizontal and vertical lines can be removed.

The line that we just created will form a bottom of the strip. Now copy this line and place line so its bottom left end coincides with top left corner of the 2D job. This line will form a top of the strip. Then make another copy and place it in the middle. This middle line will be used later to position our design within strip. All three lines have been shown below.


Next step is to find out the required length and width of the strip. We will need a few extra vectors to accomplish that.

Let's copy one of the created three lines and rotate by 90 degrees, to get a line that is perpendicular to the strip. Then place it in such way so it crosses the strip. This will help us measure the width.

Then copy the perpendicular line and place it so it touches the top line. Then extend the bottom line, until it crosses the perpendicular line we just added. This will help us measure the length of the strip.

The easiest way to achieve that, is to create a textured component. To do that, select the design in the component tree and activate the Create Texture Area tool. This example used the default settings of the tool. The tool will create a new component that will fill the whole 2D job boundaries. The component itself will be filled with the design in tiled manner. Now use the Set Size tool to resize textured component to match the strip size.

Now the component have to be rotated and moved to fit between the lines you have drawn at the beginning. This process can be made easier by utilizing Copy Along Vectors tool. To proceed, activate the tool and select the textured component first, then select the middle line in the strip while holding Shift. Make sure that Align objects to curve option is selected and use Number of copies option. Since our strip has already have a correct size, we only need one copy. However the tool would place the middle of our component at the beginning of the line only. If you enter 3 as the number of copies, then the tool will place two copies of component at each end and in the middle. Afterwards the copies at the ends can be simply deleted. The picture below shows the strip in the 3D view after being correctly positioned.


As can be seen, the strip disappears as soon as it leaves the material boundaries. In order to make it wrap around, we need to create a new level in the component tree and move the texture component into it. Then right click on the newly created level and right click. From the pop-up menu select wrapping. After that wrapping will occur.


Wrapping can be enabled on any level in component tree and combined with mirror mode. If the level wraps on itself, then intersecting areas will be merged regardless of level's combine mode. If it is desired to create e.g. a woven pattern, then place left-hand spiralled component and right-hand spiralled components in different separate levels, both with wrapping enabled.

The last step is to make column endings. For that purpose the third level was created, with Combine Mode set to Merge. This way the spiral pattern will be 'hidden' at the ends. A circular 3D tab clipart was placed at each end, and stretch vertically to match the job boundaries.

Modelling twisted shapes

This section will show how to create twisted shapes, using a combination of level-wrapping and Vector Unwrapper tool.

In this example a new rotary job was created, with a diameter of 6 inches and length of 20 inches, rotating around X axis. To start, we need a cross-section vector. In this example a 5-armed star was used. To create a star, we can use Draw Star tool. This example used Outer Radius of 3 inches, to match the radius of the material.

The next step is to unwrap the cross section. In the case of the star however, the center is not the same as center of star's bounding box. To find the real center, one can draw a line from two of the star corners. Then open Vector Unwrapper and select the star. Then drag rotation center and snap it to the intersection of the lines, as can be seen below.

Using Vector Unwrapper with the star-shaped vector
Rails and uwrapped star

Once the star is unwrapped, we need to create rails, that will make spiral when wrapped. To do that, select Draw Line/Polyline tool and draw a horizontal line at the bottom of the job from left to right. While the drawing tool is still active, type 90 into Angle box and type y * 2 into Length box and pressing =. We used y * 2 formula so the star will make 2 revolutions Then press button to add a vertical segment. Finally, start a new line that connects the horizontal and vertical lines, forming a triangle. Once this line is created, our horizontal and vertical lines can be removed.

Next step is to copy the line and place it so its bottom left end coincides with top left corner of 2D job.

Once the the rails are ready, one could use a Two Rails Sweep tool. However, since rails exceeds the 2D job boundaries, the created sweep will be cropped as soon as those boundaries are exceeded.

To overcome that, select both rails, open Draw Rectangle tool and press . This will create a bounding box containing the rails. Now, write done the size of the box and save current project. Then create a new single-sided project with the slightly bigger than the bounding box. Use the Import Vectors option from the main menu and select the previously saved file. Now select the rails and press F9 to center them.

Now use Two Rail Sweep tool. When component is ready, save the file.

Now re-open the original rotary project. Use Import Component and select the single-sided project created in the step above. Move the component to the desired location. Then, create a new level, move the component there and enable wrapping.

Using single-sided modelling tools

This section will present how to use single-sided modelling techniques in rotary projects.

Users familiar with modelling techniques used in single-sided projects may find them more convenient for modelling certain shapes. This example uses two vectors, representing side cross section of the table leg and a few of half cross sections for different parts of the table leg. Those vectors are presented below.

One can simply treat the side cross section as rails and use the Two Rail Sweep tool, placing the half cross sections at appropriate locations. This way half of the leg can be modelled very quickly, with the result that can be seen below (using flat 3D view).

In order to use the created model in a rotary project, we need to export and then import it back. Although it is possible to do this with two sessions of Aspire, it can also be done within a single session with rotary project. To export the leg model, make sure no other components are visible (including the automatically added zero plane) and open the Export Model tool while holding down Shift. Pressing Shift allows to open the export tool in single-sided, rather than rotary mode.

Since half of the leg was modelled, Close with inverted front option can be used. The resulting STL mesh can be seen below.

Once component is exported, it can be re-imported as Full 3D model. The model will have a seam, in the place were two halfs were merged. This can be removed using smoothing function of the Sculpting tool.