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In AutoCAD 2011 New Features, instructor Jeff Bartels highlights productivity and creativity enhancing additions to the AutoCAD toolset. This course covers improved functions for selecting and creating geometry, updated modification tools for hatches and polylines, simplified parametric constraint tools, and the new dynamic surface modeling techniques for creating complex shapes. Exercise files accompany the course.
Freeform mesh objects we introduced in AutoCAD 2010, and there's no better tool than a mesh if you want to create 3D organic freeform shapes. In AutoCAD 2011, we have even more powerful tools to edit our mesh objects, which means there are even fewer limits on the shapes we can create. In this lesson, we're going to look at the new mesh editing tools. Let me mention first that I am using the 3D Modeling workspace, so I have access to all of the 3D tools. In the View panel I am going to open up my Visual Styles menu, because I want to mention that I'm using be Shaded with Edges visual style.
Now the geometry that we see on screen represents a pizza cutter, and this was created using several 3D objects. This blade was created as a 3D solid and the handle was created as a mesh. To edit my mesh I'm going to click the Mesh tab on my ribbon, and the new AutoCAD 2011 tools we'll be looking at, are located in the Mash Edit panel. Let's look at the Merge Face tool first. We can use this tool to simplify our mesh by merging multiple faces into a single face.
I'm going to zoom in a little bit. I will then launch the command. I'll select this face and this face and hit Enter. When I do those faces are fused together. Let's launch the command again. I'll select this face and this face and hit Enter. Now we can merge than just two faces if we want. I would like to do a few more, so I am going to hit the Spacebar to go back into the command, and I'll select this face and this face and hit Enter. I'll re-launch the command and we'll do these two faces. We'll do these two faces.
I'll launch the command one more time and we'll do these two faces. You're probably wondering, why didn't you just join everything into one big face? Well, the fewer faces you have on your mesh, the fewer control points you have. By cutting the faces in this area in half, I have simplified my mesh, and if I want to make changes later, I still have a fair amount of control points. Let's look at another new mesh editing tool. This time we are going to look at Close Hole. We can use this to close up a hole in our mesh.
When we create a mesh, it's a watertight object. It's essentially a completely closed shape. So you may be wondering how can you put a hole in your mesh? Let's create a hole. To do that, I'm going to move down to the Subobject panel, and I'll open up my Subobject menu, I'll select Face, I will then select this face, and I'll hit the Delete key on my keyboard. Finally, I am going to hit Escape to close this filter. If I orbit my part now, you can see that I have punched a hole in this mesh and in the event I wanted to convert this mesh into a solid later, I couldn't do that because this mesh is no longer watertight.
To fix the hole, I am going to launch the Close Hole tool. I will then select the edges around the outside of the hole. When I am finished I will hit my Enter key, and the hole goes away. The next tool I would like to look at, we can find by opening up the Mesh Edit panel. This is the Collapse Face Or Edge tool. This is another way we can simplify our mesh by reducing faces or edges in this case. I am going to click to launch the command, I will then select this face, and when I do, AutoCAD reduces it down to a single vertex.
Now this command also works with edges. If I would like to collapse an edge, I will relaunch the command, and then I will set my Subobject filter to Edge, and when I select an edge, it collapses. Now that last edit went a little bit too far. I am going to move up and click my Undo button to bring that edge back. The final mesh editing tool I would like to look at is the Spin Triangle Face tool. Now you would use this tool if you are working with a triangular face mesh. I do have a demo for this. I am going to go back to the Home tab.
Let's go to the Layers panel. I am going to open up the layer control and we'll turn on the triangular mesh layer. If I back up and pan this over, let's zoom in a little bit, on my screen I have got a mesh that was created using triangular faces. Now if you are wondering how I generated this, I converted to solid. Let me go back to the Mesh tab. If I click this downward facing arrow, it opens up my Mesh Tessellation Options. You can use this button to convert a solid into a mesh, and what I did is under Mesh type, I clicked this flyout and I set it to Triangle.
Now let's start by taking a look at the triangulation on the front of this mesh. Notice I am triangulating from this lower right corner to this upper inside corner. On this other side, I have got the exact same shape, but my triangles are going in the other direction. To fix this, I am going to select Spin Triangle Face. I'll select this face and this face to flip my triangles. Now on a flat face this really doesn't make much difference. We don't notice a change in the shape of the mesh.
Let's take a look at these triangles. In this case I am triangulating from this back corner down to the bottom of this V. Maybe I would like to triangulate from this upper inside corner to this back inside corner. Once again, I am going to launch the Spin Triangle Face command, I'll click this face and this face, and when the triangles flip, it changes the shape of my mesh. Let's clean up the other side as well. I will relaunch the tool and I'll click this face and this face.
Now that I am finished I am going to go back to the Home tab. We'll turn this layer off, we'll go back to the Layers panel, and I am going to click the layer previous button to put my layers back where we started. With the new Mesh Editing tools in AutoCAD 2011, we have even more control over the shape of our mesh geometry. No matter how abstract or freeform your design may be, AutoCAD has the tools to produce and edit your model.
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