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 3D Image Data in CAD/CAE
Gareth James
Gareth James
Working as PR and Marketing Officer for Simpleware, with specialties in: marketing communications, social media, press, quality management, copywriting.

Image-based meshing: novel approaches from Simpleware

September 15th, 2015 by Gareth James
image-based mesh

Image-based meshing with Simpleware

Generating accurate meshes from 3D image data (such as MRI and CT) for design and simulation tasks can be a challenge, particularly when working with complex geometries like the human body, porous media and industrial parts. It can typically be difficult to create watertight computer files (CAD, CAE, 3D printing) when no CAD files are available, particularly when using complex image datasets. At Simpleware we have developed software techniques that use image-based meshing to ensure the generation of very high-quality surface and volumetric meshes, which can be used for a wide range of design and simulation tasks. These techniques have also been extended to homogenization methods for calculating effective material properties, ensuring a fast, easy and reliable bridge from scan to design and simulation.

Creating Reliable Meshes

3D image data tends to create problems in terms of producing conforming meshes, and particularly demands time-consuming manual repair where different structures meet. Our image-based meshing approach solves these problems by using unique, proprietary algorithms to ensure that meshes are conforming and ready for design or simulation tasks. Image data visualized and segmented in our software can be robustly meshed using two approaches: an image-based mesher and a method that re-meshes multi-part surfaces.

The image-based mesher can uniquely handle multiple parts, can smooth images without compromising volume or topology, and can handle partial volume effects. The re-meshing approach can be used, by comparison, to reduce the size of a mesh for specific computational tasks, and to refine or decimate localized parts of a model. This approach is accurate and flexible when it comes to creating surface and volume meshes. Anyone working with complex 3D image data can go from images to simulation (Finite Element and Computational Fluid Dynamics), for example when working with complex anatomical models or materials data with multiple phases.

Mesh decimation

Decimating a mesh to reduce size whilst preserving accuracy

Mesh Customization

Meshes created in the software can be easily customized to include features such as contact surfaces and node sets, FE shell elements, and CFD boundary layers, and can be re-meshed to suit different computational tasks. In addition, the software offers capabilities for using FE meshing as part of workflows for calculating effective material properties from scanned samples. Smoothed meshes can be created from a cuboidal sample that does not overestimate the surface of a model, which can then be adaptively remeshed and used to run FE calculations to obtain effective material properties like elasticity, permeability and stiffness.

Image-based modelling offers many advantages for engineers, designers and analysts, not least the ability to work with accurate reconstructions of structures when characterizing properties and running simulations. The meshing techniques developed for Simpleware software are designed to overcome the typical challenges involved with this type of data, ensuring very robust models that are ready to use in CAD and CAE packages.

For more information on these techniques, please visit

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