Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Here's an interesting new product that showed up at DE HQ the other day. A company down in Cajun Country called Discretize just released Xtl, a new application for repairing and editing dirty STL geometries you encounter during simulation as well as manufacturing jobs like 3D printing. Never heard of Discretize? That's OK. From what I can tell, they're a new company, and they say Xtl is their first product. Don't shy away based on that. Years ago, I was snot-nosed kid sorting through press releases and meeting people with the next greatest thing as new products editor at BYTE magazine. Some of those people and products became Apple, ANSYS, and Microsoft. Discretize Xtl has the feel of a good idea beginning to bloom.
OK, the brief on Xtl: It's an STL repair and editing tool. It has traditional STL tools. It can calculate surface intersections, and it offers facet, node, curve, surface, and stitching tools. It automatically identifies and fills holes in selected bodies or surfaces. That is, it starts with the stuff you expect.
But the first thing that makes Xtl interesting is that it approaches STL models as a CAD-like topology -- bodies, surfaces, curves, and vertices overlaying the faceted model -- not just as a bunch of triangular facets and nodes. This means that you approach repairs and editing from this kind of design angle, which should give you good control over what you're doing.
Next, Xtl comes with a prototype wrapping algorithm. This is the really cool thing.
Now, normally, when you leverage a wrapping algorithm to create a surface, your software can have a hard time figuring out what features you need and what features to boot out. Small features that you really need can give it fits. Discretize says that its prototype intelligent wrapping algorithm gives Xtl the ability to close large gaps, yet preserve those small features. They say the wrapping algorithm has successfully solved problems that are not easily addressed using any other automated algorithm. Still, they recommend that you use it for smaller laser scan models right now. Even with that constraint, you can probably see that this capability is headed in an interesting direction.
There's a lot more you can learn about Xtl from today's Pick of the Week write-up. Make sure to check out the links to pictorial demonstrations/tutorials. They're excellent. There's also an e-mail link you can write to for a complimentary 30-day evaluation unit. Purchase price is $895, BTW.
Apple once used the ingrammatical (sic) slogan “Think Different.” New kids on the block can think different and can come up with ways of doing things that the oh-so-smart people in the biz would never dream of in a million years. Discretize may be that new kid. Take a look. Judge for yourself.
Thanks, Pal. -- Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
Read today's Pick of the Week write-up.
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