Last week we announced that we’ve added the Polygonica polygonal modeling kernel to our portfolio of 3D developer tools. I’m excited about that news for two reasons. The first has to do with how we view our responsibility to our customers. The second has to do with Polygonica itself. Allow me to explain.
The early roots of Tech Soft 3D trace back more than 20 years. Initially we were the people who understood engineering-specific graphics better than anyone else. While we still believe that to be true, long ago we realized that customers equally valued our knowledge of how to help them build successful applications.
It turned out that over time, working with so many of the leading CAD/CAM/CAE companies, we learned about much more than graphics. We became experts in how the modules of a good 3D application fit together and the best ways to architect code. We also learned about the full set of problems developers regularly faced when dealing with 3D data – challenges like getting CAD data into their system, creating B-Rep geometry, modifying and manipulating geometry, creating intuitive 3D interaction methods, and publishing models. It turned out the list of difficult challenges a developer faced was a long one.
Based on this experience and resulting understanding, we expanded our identity beyond graphics. We concluded that our responsibility was a broader one - to help engineering software developers create successful applications. With a newly defined purpose, we started to fill out our portfolio to more fully address developers’ needs. We began to develop new modules, partner with other leading vendors, integrate popular toolkits, and acquire key technologies.
As a form of shorthand, I often say that we focus on the challenges of moving 3D data through an application, providing technologies to help: Get it. Shape it. See it. Share it. Polygonica fits perfectly into this view of our responsibility to customers in the ”Shape it” category.
With that as background, when we look at any new potential partnership, development or acquisition in the toolkit part of our business, we first ask whether it fits with that broad definition of our responsibility to our toolkit customers. If it does, we ask ourselves two other questions: 1) does this technology solve a significant problem that can’t reasonably be addressed another way and 2) is this the best-in-class solution for that problem?
For Polygonica, those answers are 1) yes and 2) yes.
Right away we thought about how Polygonica would help enable the rapidly emerging world of 3D printing. As more and more applications need to produce 3D print-ready parts, Polygonica has a very important role to play. Anyone who has tried to deal with the STL data needed for 3D printing knows that degenerate (poor quality) models are very much the norm rather than the exception. Overlapping and missing faces, holes and self-intersections are all too common – any one of which can make a model completely unprintable. Polygonica is incredibly accurate and remarkably efficient at “healing” models, as well as general “model preparation” such as polygon reduction, resizing, hollowing, subtractive and additive Booleans and combining multiple parts into a single assembly.
Given the cost of 3D printing materials, it’s imperative to make sure the model can indeed print correctly. If you think ink for your color printer is expensive, try buying a regular supply of additive manufacturing materials! The cost structure of 3D printing is not anywhere near the point where you would hit “print” just to see what something looks like, unless you just like throwing money out the window. For the rest of us, who are not interested in tossing cash out the window, we want to make sure a model is print-ready before wasting valuable material.
Beyond the world of 3D printing, Polygonica has much to offer any application that deals with triangle data. When we think about CAD/CAM/CAE applications, we often first think about B-Rep data – yet quite a lot happens in the (sometimes gnarly) world of triangles. Models are getting huge and need to be simplified, healed and operated upon. Certain geometry creation and modification operations can be done much more quickly with triangles than with B-Rep data, particularly when the extreme accuracy of B-Rep isn’t required.
Given all of that, Polygonica passed the test of whether it could solve significant problems for 3D developers. Next was the question of whether it was the best-in-class solution. We have long known about the quality of Polygonica from its use as the underlying engine in the popular MachineWorks application. When the MachineWorks team decided to break this engine out as an SDK and approached us to be the global channel for it, we knew it would fit our best-in-class requirement.
By adding Polygonica to our portfolio of toolkits, we’re more able than ever to fulfill our responsibility to help engineering software developers build successful applications (and make the world a better place….one clean and efficient collection of triangles at a time).