Deformable curve and surface finite-elements for free-form shape design
The finite element method is applied to generate primitives that build continuous deformable shapes designed to support a new free-form modeling paradigm. The primitives autonomously deform to minimize an energy functional subject to user controlled geometric constraints and loads. The approach requires less user input than conventional free-form modeling approaches because the shape can be parameterized independently of the number of degrees of freedom needed to describe the shape.Both a curve and a surface finite element are developed. The properties of these geometric primitives have been engineered to support an interactive three phase approach for defining very fair free-form shapes as found in automobiles, ship hulls and car bodies. The shape's character lines or folds and edges are defined with deformable curve segments. These character lines are then "skinned" with a deformable surface. The final shape is sculpted interactively by applying loads to the surface to control the surface shape between character lines. Shapes created with this technique enjoy the advantage that they are already meshed for further finite element analysis.