Q & A with T-Splines’ Matt Sederberg

23 September 2010

We speak with the surface modeling add-on for Rhino’s co-founder

What main advantages does T-Splines offers Rhino users?

T-Splines is squarely targeted at users who make organic designs. Some users say it saves them significant time in arriving at their design, while others don’t claim time savings, but say it helps them get a better, more deliberate result.

In any case, T-Splines lets designers design while they model by pushing and pulling the surface, instead of needing to go back to the curves to make adjustments, and then painstakingly rebuilding all the surfaces, blends, etc. This allows designers to explore multiple variations of the design much faster – some designers even tweak the model live, in front of the client!

T-Splines excels at helping designers get C2 blends and transitions by default. Also, T-Splines is extremely integrated with Rhino. Too often, when designers learn T-Splines, they want to forget all their other modelling knowledge. In fact, the best way to use T-Splines is just as another tool in your toolset. You can use nearly every Rhino command on a T-Spline surface.

What would you say to Inventor, SolidWorks or Solid Edge users about T-Splines?

If users of these programs want to create organic designs, I don’t know of a better program to use than T-Splines.

T-Splines makes it easy to create CAD-compatible organic designs, and T-Splines is also used to convert subdivision surface models from programs like modo and Cinema4D to make them CAD-compatible.

Even if these users don’t have a seat of Rhino yet, a T-Splines + Rhino bundle is extremely affordable. T-Splines files export gorgeously to solid modellers as watertight, dumb IGES or STEP geometry.

I have never heard of a user complain about the quality of this data, which is so good that engineers sometimes just keep the imported T-spline surface in the feature tree to be manufactured, rather than spending the time to recreate the subtle, organic T-spline surfaces with the more mechanical tools of a solid modeller.

Are there plans to develop T-Spline plug-ins for other 3D programs?

Definitely. Our company has spent the last few years rewriting our T-Splines backend code to make it faster and more flexible for use in other programs.

Our vision has always been to get T-Splines into the hands of as many designers as possible. We view T-Splines as the most fundamental improvement to CAD since NURBS was invented. We are currently evaluating a few programs for our next T-Splines plugin; we also license the T-Tools Organic Surfacing Suite to other companies who want to OEM T-Splines in their products.

What’s the most impressive model you’ve ever seen developed using T-Splines?

Great question. The most tantalising parts of my job are when a user shows me an amazing T-spline model, then tells me that it is for my eyes only.

The models that stand out, though, are the “firsts.” The first time I ever saw a manufactured model designed with T-Splines, when a Brazilian jeweller mailed us a copy of an intricate ring he had made for his wife.

The first time an architectural firm sent us a file of a massive, organic building designed in T-Splines (which is currently under construction).

I think my favorite T-Splines models are the ones that combine organic shapes with mechanical components, since our CAD-compatibility is a critical feature of T-Splines that I always try to push.

An example of this is type of model is a tuned Porsche car bumper by P&D Studio. It’s not the most organic, crazy, thing in the world, but it is aesthetically pleasing, was designed to be manufactured, and it includes complex organic surfaces while still respecting the exact dimensions required to fit the bumper on the existing car.

Read our exclusive T-Splines for Rhino review here

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