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CAD tip CAD tip # 8509:

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Unfold any 3D mesh into 2D planar form.

A - answer Any 3D object defined by a surface mesh (3D mesh) can be unfolded (unwrapped) to 2D using the tools available in Autodesk Design Suite. So you can unfold and then refold 3D objects cut from paper or sheetmeta.

For unfolding a 3D body we can use the function "Unwrap UVW" available in Autodesk 3ds Max. Here are the individual steps:

  1. Create or import (e.g. from DWG) the 3D object to unfold. We present the unfold functionality on a sphere, geoid (GeoSphere) - you can create it using the tool under the sun icon:

  2. On the tab (icon) "Modify" go to the "Modifier List" and choose the modifier "Unwrap UVW":

  3. With the sphere still selected, click the Edit button in the modifier parameters. The dialog "Edit UVWs" will open.
  4. In this dialog, mouse-zoom to the whole sphere unfold mesh, select it (the Face sub-object mode, checkered button) and from the Mapping menu choose "Unfold Mapping". Leave the option "Walk to closest space" and uncheck "Normalize Clusters". Confirm OK and mouse-zoom to the resulting unwrap pattern:

  5. Now read this pattern back into your scene. From the menu (icon) "Utilities" (hammer) select the button "More" and choose "Channel Info". Click the new button "Channel Info". This will open the "Map Channel Info" dialog:

  6. Using this tool now copy the contents of the "map" channel to the "mesh" channel - i.e to your scene: select the row with the ID "1:map" and click the Copy button; selecz the row with the ID "mesh" and click the Paste button. Confirm the channel name and close the dialog. Zoom to the result - instead of the sphere you will see the unwrapped geometry (if you want to keep the original object, work on its copy):

  7. The resulting unfold pattern can be transfered to AutoCAD for further processing. Here you can dimension it, plot it in full scale, or export it to CNC for laser cutting. Use DWG Export in 3ds Max and open the resulting DWG file in AutoCAD:

    You may need to explode the imported "mesh" object into 3DFaces, or explode even them to plain Lines (see the 3DF2L utility).

See also unfolding with 123D Make.

100% *  CAD 
2.3.2012    26615x  
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applies to: 3ds Max · DesignSuite · AutoCAD ·

See also:
Tip 10916:How to project unfolded flat pattern to a sketch?
Tip 10719:How to add the unfold rule name as a drawing note?
Tip 10118:How to export a DXF file with punch points from an unfold?
Tip 9692:Unfoldable spiral-helix sheet metal in Inventor.
Tip 9583:How to add a new command to AutoCAD shortcut menus?

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