Proposing a step for next generation blender - Parametric

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pantelis adiavastos
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Proposing a step for next generation blender - Parametric

Post by pantelis adiavastos » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:11 pm

Hello blender community, i am an architecture student from greece, age 24.

So I am here to make a proposal for a future blender edition or plugin.

an introduction :

The architecture community is a great software consumer. Software in architecture was introduced around mid 80s, with tools simulating paper drafting, named CAD programs. This kind of software was eventually developed at a good level, to take over almost every architecture office by around mid 90s. (lame video, but just to get an idea of precision needed)

The same period some people gained very good familiarity, and started drafting in the 3d space, and rendering, making previsualizations of their buildings. Today, 3d rendering is a must, to all arch. projects.

Later on there were some avant guarde movements, stating that computer as tools, were much more than that, and so proposing, a shift to the next level of architecture design, now called parametric architecture. Implementing scripts (a first for architecture) they managed to design complex geometries, that until then were very tough to design and compute in static drafting.

This is basicly, modeling relationships between objects in the 3d space, and beeing able at any time to change this relationships, producing at every time something else based on the same core formula. So now you have the process (the core formula), that accepts the parameters as inputs, and eventually producing an output. Then the output can be processed as a list, categorized and organized, and produce exact fabrication plans, that can go straight to the factory for production (File to factory, also check CNC , laser cutting, and 3d printing).

an example : instead of modeling a static cube, design 6 points (vertices), and tell the software to make faces between them, so to have a cube. And so parametric design, refers to this process of building relations, so that at anytime we can move these points, and so make a different shape, with real time results. ex, move the top 4 points, 2 units upwards etc, and then take all the faces, and apply a circular hole to them, with lets say the parameter of the radius to be proportional to the distance of the center of the face to an external point, and moving the cube points, soft recomputes both the shape and the holes and we areable to see that in real time, and at the end to take all these faces, make blueprints (plans) and email them to the factory, for a machine to cut.
(this is an actual practice in architecture now, and some factories, for example those who fabricate metal do this, but this is also extended to wood cutting, and even smaller model production in 3d printers etc)

Upon this (very simplified) theory, stands parametric design, wich gains more and more architects as time goes by.

In any architecture office, the basic software is Autodesk Autocad, a program that enables drafting in a vectorial environment (note VE), and costs around 2-4 grands. This is a static drafting tool. then you need 3d rendering soft, most use 3ds max (also by autodesk) that also costs much.

Some years ago, the arch software industry, realized the need for the above and invented BIM CAD soft. that enables some relations between objects, though far away from parametric design.

In need for parametric design software, the worlds bigest arch. firms, tried to invent their own soft. so that they could actually design and build the ideas that they had in mind.

Namely, Foster and Partners of London, collaborated with Bentley (car industry), and smart geometry group, and based on Bentley microstation, they designed Generative Components. For it's greater life, GC was closed, untill now when it became free (who knows until when), but with scarce user base, and very limited educational sources.

The 2nd office is Gehry and partners, of US, that created Digital Project (not a freeware), based on Dessault's Airplane soft Catia 5 (on catia boeing 747 was designed). This has even less user base and support.

Another visionary architect, Kas Oosterhuis (ONL), of Holland, begun from the mid 90s to use the Game production soft. Virtools by 3dVia. The advantage of Virtools is the ability to use game production based relationships, triggers, etc, making the real time change

The next best thing, was Grasshopper, an open source plug in for Rhino (created 4-5 years ago), which enabled, free and easy, parametric design, with the userbase that comes with open source soft. GH gains more and more friends over time, and has been collaboratively developed with users producing modules (called components), in C# or Vb that the base software supports. The disadvantage of GH is that being a plug in, the model it creates, is not a Rhino object, before it's been baked, and thus being static. Also rhino from itself cannot animate. It can animate the camera with tweekings, and with fur more tweeking animate the GH model. Also a physics engine called Kangaroo is now making it's way in GH, in it's first beta version. So in conclusion GH can be used in parametric design, but it's difficult to animate it's model, and has a long way ahead to go. (example of grasshopper design) (the prototype physics engine)

In the lacking of every soft's defects, some schools and people resort to Autodesk (again) Maya,that enables both animation and also script, but these are also tweeks, though maya was made for other stuff and not for buildings, making realization of the design difficult.

So my conclusion is, that observating Blender, it has a bunch of capabilities, that others dream of, and in a very compact, though difficult environment.

I think that you programmers, can with some way, implement parametric relations between obects in blender, and extend blender to make the most powerfull parametric design software on the market.

PD, is the present and the future of architecture. If you could win architect users blender user and developer base would double easily.

The basic needs, is the ability to draft in a vectorial background, on global coordinates, and real time line and curve modeling, with precision. Then relations could be easily programmed, to control and create geometry.

Seeing the current blender, i think that it's not so far from what i described because it has all it needs, it just lacks precision drafting modes.

Thanks for hearing, and for any considerations.
if anyone want to contact me do that at pantelisadiavastos [@]

hope you find my proposal interresting. :)

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Post by onuca » Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:19 am

Hi there,

I entirely agree with your view. I ( myself an architect working in one of the most visionary British studios - RMJM ) come across parametric modelling regularly. We tend to use Grasshopper + Rhino as these really are the only way to get the complexed shapes modelled precisely as we and our contractors and fabricators need them to be.
I have been a great fan of Blender for the last 7 years and I love watching all these stunning new tools that developers give us. BTW - great job guys - BIG thanks!
The only thing I could not ever understand was - why for all these years there was no simple and efficient precision modelling / snapping toolset added? There is so much in Blender, yet the basics are missing. If we could only get a decent snap pallet ( like e.g. in Rhino ) Blender would certainly become one of the top tools for architects. And if there was a parametric modelling node editor... I can see very bright future for Blender out there.
Ton, maybe it would be good to invite architects to the institute and for a change make a Blender for Architecture project rather than another film / game? Just food for thought!

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Post by MonZop » Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:25 pm

At the last Blender conference in October 2010, Remigiusz Fiedler, an architect, was talking about Blender CAD or something similar, a tool for architects.
I suggest that you look to his website: he may have done what you need (i am a biologist, no need for precision in my field ;-)

Ciao ciao,

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Post by onuca » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:15 pm

Yes, I have seen this before - these tools seem to be exactly what we need. Only two issues here - first is that these are 2.49 scripts and will not work for 2.5 and above - and I guess this is what we all use these days ;)
Second is funding - it would be brilliant if this project was developed under Blender Foundation umbrella and integrated with Blender fully. Maybe not necesserily in the ArchiTOOLs / BIM version but at least on a basic snap / precise modelling level. Food for thought! :wink:

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Post by simtron » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:51 pm

I'd love to see such a thing in Blender.

I'm Simha(20) Indian.I'm pursuing Mechanical Engineering Bachelor's degree.I've been blender user for past 6 years and I will continue using it.

I'm slowly moving towards development side of Blender.I'm very very much interested in CAD.Also I'm very good programmer in c c++ opengl and python.I need to know what knowledge I require to add a new feature into blender like in cad modules.

Suggest me good books on CAD.

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Post by wolterh » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:30 pm

Hm, is there any progress on this? This is one of the best ideas of a plugin I have ever seen - modifying blender so it can support engineering operations.

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Post by simtron » Thu Jun 23, 2011 7:48 am

I'm a mechanical engineering student.Currently I'm trying to introduce basic operations like finding volume,mass, even force distribution ....

Currently I'm developing a mesh handling and visualization environment for my code.If some one starts adding such code to blender, please let me know.I wanna join.I wanna have my Blender as a tool in my profession too.

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