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In-Depth: Looking at solidThinking Inspired 8.5

In this In-Depth feature article Architosh talks to solidThinking Inc’s Alex Mazzardo and Andy Bartels about its newest features. In version 8.5, Inspired has added flexible new improvements while the core program has advanced well in the areas of rendering, modeling and interoperability.

Two weeks back we had the opportunity to see solidThinking Inc.’s new solidThinking Inspired 8.5 with an evolution of its morphogenesis technology. We spoke with Alex Mazzardo, one of company’s co-founders about the technology, along with Andy Bartels of solidThinking Inc., who gave us a live product demo.

The latest version of solidThinking has over 900 improvements, ranging from small user-interface changes and workflow improvements to significant new features and capabilities in both the core product and the Inspired version with morphogenesis technology.


solidThinking 8.5, we will remind readers, is one of the world’s top class-A NURBS modeling programs. As Alex Mazzardo noted, “solidThinking is a real idea generator that promotes innovation due to its powerful modeling, easy-to-use rendering environment and interoperability with leading engineering applications.”  The product is aimed at product designers, industrial designers, style centers, marketing departments and architects and engineers.

New Capabilities

Version 8.5 is now a faster modeler, with up to 3x performance speed. Loading time with models, especially larger complex models, is halved. Frames per second shading of the model in real-time is 3x faster and select and deselect are quicker as well. There is a new improved Round tool, in most other similar applications known as a fillet tool. With the improved Round tool you get better handling of overflow and overlapping rounded surfaces, plus advanced options for shape control. (see image 01)

01 - solidThinking 8.5 has a new and improved round tool, with advanced options for dealing with overlapping rounded surfaces.

Another new feature is a new Face Extraction tool, for the creation of new faces from existing objects. There are now more snap shortcuts and construction aids, including a revised snap to tangent tool. These all make modeling faster and easier.

A new feature we really liked was the three-level selection methodology. Now in solidThinking 8.5 the first double-click on an object selects objects. A second double-click allows you to access parameters for those objects, and a third double-click allows you to edit vertices or control points.

The user-interface has been simplified for better navigation and scene organization. It is now possible to visualize if the selected objects are part of some groups in the Hierarchy Browser. And there is new and improved selection technology through the use of selection filters with the ability to sort for curves, surfaces, polymesh and pointmesh, et cetera, as well as clarifying selection of dependent and source objects for easier scene organization.

Better Rendering in solidThinking 8.5

One of the largest areas of improvement in solidThinking 8.5 is in the area of rendering. The accuracy of lighting is a major improvement and this includes its progressive, real-time rendering as well. (see images 02-03) In 8.5 there are new real-time photorealistic rendering options integrating raytracing and progressive rendering.

02 - solidThinking 8.5 has a greatly improved real-time rendering functionality, plus improved photorealistic rendering.

New reflection catcher technology adds a reflection below the model in a photorealistic rendering when the model is added to a back plate image. A new improved algorithm improves anti-aliasing in final renders and there is improved support for the calculation of indirect lighting.

03-solidThinking's interactive rendering shows improved handling of light.

You can play with this Flash-based web page to see the difference in rendering quality between version 8 and version 8.5 of solidThinking. Go ahead, we encourage you to explore this interactive graphic. For exploring the difference between version 8 and 8.5 with regard to anti-aliasing go to this page here. The difference is quite dramatic in this particular sample image.

New in version 8.5 are pre-built interior sets and ready-to-render lighting setups. This pre-setup work is very helpful to designers looking to quickly drop their model into an environment and do quick renders for study and evaluation. (see image 04)

04 - new pre-built sets with ready to go lighting help designers quickly test their models in fully rendered environments.

And the render materials library has been enhanced in solidThinking 8.5 with more than 300 new apply-and-render materials with default settings optimized for best rendering results. In an era where there is increased development activity in the area of simplified and instant photorealistic rendering, this new library enhancement is a timely response.

Next page: CAD Connections and Inspired 8.5 >

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