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Form-Z is an award winning general purpose solid and surface modeller with an extensive set of 2D/3D form manipulating and sculpting capabilities, many of which are unique. It is an effective design tool for architects, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers, animators and illustrators, industrial and interior designers, and all design fields that deal with the articulation of 3D spaces and forms. Form-Z is highly responsive to the needs of mature designers and, at the same time, novices can use it with ease.
These directly generated objects include the cube, the cone, the cylinder, the sphere, and the torus. They can all be generated as complete or partial objects, which can be solid or surface objects. For each, a variety of drawing options are available which allow the interactive control of the different features of these objects. They are all parametric anc can be editied after their generation.
Platonic solids, soccer balls, lathed and geodesic spheres The unique spherical objects that formZ can create consist of the complete set of Platonic solids, the soccer ball, and both lathed and geodesic spheres. All the spherical objects can be derived directly in 3D space with a few clicks of the mouse, and can be scaled and stretched as they are created, which allows the creation of elliptical forms. The classical Platonic solids are symmetrically perfect forms that consist of equal polygonal faces. These Platonic solids can be further manipulated using other tools in formZ, such as beveling the corner points or edges, to create another vast group of symmetrically spherical objects.
Metaballs and metaformz
Four variations of metaballs can be generated directly as primitives; they are the ball, stretched ball, ellipsoid, and stretched ellipsoid shown below. Metaformz are metaballs carried to unprecendented extents. That is, the metaball behavior applied to a large variety of shapes, not just spheres. Metaformz can be created either directly or as derivative objects and combined through a constructive geometry grouping structure, to derive some astounding organic blends of composite objects.
Dynamically generated 2D surface objects and 3D solids The set of drawing tools available in formZ allows you to draw directly on a reference plane or on the surfaces of other previously created objects. You can draw rectangles, circles, ellipses, arcs, symmetric polygons, open or closed sequences of lines, and splines. You can actually draw continuous sequences of straight lines, arcs, and splines, rather than first drawing them separately and then joining them. However, the latter option is also available, and formZ offers a variety of 3D line editing tools that allow you to both break and connect lines, as well as to round or bevel corners of shapes. Basic shapes can be easily combined to create complex shapes through the use of a variety of operations available in the program. For example, shapes can be multi-copied in a symmetric or asymmetric fashion and can then be unioned of differenced to derive composite patterns.
Patterned polygons can take the shape of asteroids or gears. They can be created as a variation of simple polygons with a few clicks of the mouse. They can be generated as two dimensional shapes or they can be extruded to three dimensional forms.
Derivative 2D shapes and 3D forms
Objects can be derived from other previously created 2D or 3D objects. This unique ability of formZ offers a vast variety of methods for synthesizing 3D forms. 3D extrusions (parallel or to a point) can be created from previously drawn 2D shapes with a single click of the mouse, as shown in the example above. Other types of derivative objects that are generated from 2D shapes, such as lathed and swept objects are illustrated later in this presentation of the form·Z features. Two dimensional shapes can be created from any face or outline of a surface or solid, as well as from sequences of segments, groups of faces, open ends of surface objects, etc.
Parallel objects - Shells
Parallel objects, also known as shell objects, can be created from other objects, either on just one side or on both sides of the original objects. These are called single and double parallel objects, respectively. This unique operation of formZ allows you to transform a volumetric model of a building into one with walls that enclose space, and to transform a surface object into a shell with thickness.
Two dimensional objects can be derived from either the orthographic projections or the projected 3D views of other objects positioned anywhere in 3D space. This unique operation of formZ, which is executed with a single click of the mouse, can be useful for a variety of practical applications, as well as for design explorations relating to perceptual investigations. After their generation, the 2D projection shapes can be used to derive other 3D objects
Quite unique are the unfolded projections of 3D objects that formZ is capable of deriving from any form, including shapes that contain holes. The pattern in which an object will be unfolded can be controlled by clicking on the segment where the unfolding will start. That is, for most objects, different unfolded patterns will be derived if you click on different segments to select the object. The unfolded pattern can also be regulated by breaking an object into parts before unfolding it. Among a variety of other applications, the unfold operation offers an effective method for constructing physical cardboard models, or for manufacturing sheet metal objects. To facilitate such constructions, the unfolded patterns may optionally include connectors for reassembling the surfaces of the original object.
Terrain models from contour lines
Three dimensional terrain (landform) models can be created with ease from sets of 2D contour lines, which can either be drawn in formZ or imported. This unique feature of formZ offers four types of terrain models: meshed models, triangulated meshed models, stepped models, and triangulated contour models. All terrain models are created by pre-selecting the contour lines and then selecting the site to which the terrain model will be trimmed. The site can be any regular or irregular closed shape, which can even contain holes. By combining the four types of terrain modeling available in formZ, and possibly other operations of the program, terrain models can easily incorporate additional features such as rivers, lakes, flat areas, and roads, as illustrated below. Especially noteworthy is formZ unique ability to generate terrain models on the surfaces of other previously created 3D objects. These surfaces may have any arbitrary orientation in 3D space. This ability makes the terrain modeling tool useful for the articulation of 3D forms in areas other than landform modeling.
Open or closed profile shapes can be revolved about an axis to derive a vast variety of lathed objects, which can be revolved about a complete circle or a partial arc. The revolve operation is executed with just two clicks of the mouse. The axis of revolution can be any of the orthogonal (Cartesian) axes, or any line drawn anywhere, or a segment from a previously created object. The source profile can be a shape drawn specifically for the revolve operation, or any face of a previously created object. These unique variations of the revolve operation found in formZ offer tremendous flexibility, especially when lathed objects need to be created in positions relative to other objects.
Wire, surface, and solid helixes can be generated about an axis, with one or two clicks of the mouse. The axis can be any of the Cartesian (orthogonal) axes, or any line, or any segment of a previously drawn object. Scaling factors can be applied to a helix, and both scaling and rotational parameters can be applied to the source shape of surface or solid helixes.
Screws and bolts
Unquestionably one of the most unique features of formZ, a virtually infinite variety of screws and bolts can be created with a single click of the mouse. They are generated about a line which can have any orientation and /or direction. Threads that can be placed on bottles or containers can also be generated by selecting the proper parameters.
Both spiral and straight stairs can be generated in formZ. Both styles can be supplemented with railings and other features. Spiral stairs can be generated about a selected axis, with a single click of the mouse. The axis can have any orientation, which allows you to generate even upside-down stairs, if you seek special effects. The length and height parameters of the stair can be set in a variety of ways, including total height, number of steps, riser height, and number of cycles. Spiral stairs can be supplemented with railings, easily derived from lines of the stair, which can be used as paths for sweep operations.
Sweeps along arbitrary paths
Open or closed profile shapes can be swept along both planar and non-planar paths that have an arbitrary position in 3D space. They are created with two clicks of the mouse. The first click selects the profile to be swept (source shape), and the second click selects the path line along which it will be swept. The source profile can be scaled and/or rotated as it is swept, which offers a large variety of possibilities for creating imaginative 3D forms. An option to keep the source profile perpendicular to a reference plane is also available, which easily lends itself to the generation of objects such as roads.
Skinning any number of source profiles along any number of paths allows you to derive stunning 3D forms. This can be done in either a linear or a revolved fashion, each opening its own arsenal of 3D modeling possibilities.
The lofting operation generates surfaces from a sequence of shapes, which may be independent objects or the ends of other objects.
Meshes can be generated on the surfaces of both 2D shapes and 3D solids with a single click of the mouse. The direction of the orthogonal mesh can be determined by the direction of a segment of the object, or through numeric input. Meshes can be created in all three directions simultaneously, in any single direction, or in any combination of two directions. Meshes can be freely generated on top of previously created meshes, and there are no limits to how many times the operation can be repeated.
Both quadratic (q-subz) and triangular (t-subz) subdivisions are available. Q-subz produces organically blended surfaces and solids with adjustable and curvature sensitive rectangular. The hard edges of an object become smoothly rounded as the resolution is increased and the curvature spreads harmoniously to the flat surfaces. In its simplest manifestation a cube turns into a spherical object. A more complex composition of objects turns into a uniquely organic form. T-subs are based on triangular meshes and while they produce comparable to the q-subs organic forms, these forms also have their own different personality.
Moving and disturbing meshes
formZ offers a variety of deformation operations that can be applied to meshed objects to change their shape. The Move Mesh operation uses a user defined profile shape to smoothly move the points of a mesh that fall within an interactively determined region. The region of the mesh to be moved can be circular or linear. The Disturb operation changes the appearance of a mesh by applying either a random disturbance to all the points of a mesh, or a mathematically calculated wave movement.
Shear, Taper, Twist, Bulge, Radial Shear, Radial Bend, and Bezier Bend are deformation operations that are used to conveniently deform a meshed object in a variety of ways. They can also be freely combined to create some truly unique shapes.
Image based displacements
Displacements are derived by mapping images on surfaces, just like the textures. They create a mesh corresponding to the shades in the image, with the points displaced, to produce amazingly accurate sculpted surfaces. This tool turns a sphere into a human head, a rectangular extrusion into a pillow, and a flat site into a terrain model, to mention just a few of the possibilities.
With the unique Round tool of formZ you can smooth vertices (points), edges (segments), or combined vertices and edges. Rounding solutions are also offered for concave vertices and for non-planar sequences of edges called stitches. Controlled rounding allows you to preview the effects of the rounding parameters, then edit and interactively change them. An option to automatically adjust the rounding parameters, when they do not fit the object, is also available. While controlled rounding allows you to apply rounding which is globally blended each time changes are made to the rounding parameters, plain rounding allows you to apply rounding in a multi-layered mode. Each of these unique rounding options offers distinct rounding possibilities. The rounding operation in formZ is able to handle some challenging cases and includes the ability to round a sequence of edges with different arc sizes. One of the most advanced modeling operations available, rounding and blending smooths the otherwise hard geometry of objects, and greatly facilitates their rendering as well as their manufacturing. Non-planar closed sequences of edges, called stiches, can also be rounded at the time they are created by a Trim and Stitch operation, or after they have been generated.
Blending and filleting
The open ends of two surfaces can be smoothly connected by the addition of a nicely blended new surface. A different blending effect is produced by the filleting operation which fits a fillet at the edge where two surfaces intersect.
Draft angles can be applied to solid objects intended for manufacturing through molding processes. They can be created in any direction and at any angle with a single click of the mouse. They can be applied to complete objects or to only selected groups of faces.
Splines and c-curves
A variety of splines, such as quadratic Bezier, cubic Bezier, cubic b-spline, and NURBS, can be generated by deriving directly. Being parametric, they can be freely edited after their initial generation. Splines can also be generated from previously drawn vector lines, where they are more specifically called controlled curves or c-curves. The control lines are saved with the curves, which can later be edited to change their shape. The available range of c-curves includes a variety of Bezier curves, B-splines, and NURBS.
The complete range of curved lines (splines), including NURBS, can also be used in a 3D arrangement to produce curved surfaces called controlled meshes or c-meshes. These objects are stored with their control parameters, and can thus be edited later, through interactive graphic procedures, to change their shapes. The c-meshes can be either surface or solid objects. When solid, their ends can be rounded, or they can be closed to produce a ring-like object.
While the c-meshes include NURBS surfaces, they are frequently of a mixed character and also include facetted parts. In formZ it is also possible to generate pure NURBS surfaces, which are specifically called nurbz. These are generated from control lines in ways similar to but also different from c-meshes. Available generation methods are by lofting, from boundary curves, from UV curves, and by points.
The patches are 3 or 4-sided parametric faces that can be smoothly combined together to create smooth organic forms. There are two types: Coons and bicubic Bezier. The available operations include derive patch, grow patch, divide patch, and attach patch.
Metaballs and metaformz
Four variations of metaballs can be generated directly as primitives; they are the ball, stretched ball, ellipsoid, and stretched ellipsoid. Metaformz are metaballs carried to unprecendented extents. That is, the metaball behavior applied to a large variety of shapes, not just spheres. Metaformz can be created either directly or as derivative objects and combined through a constructive geometry grouping structure, to derive some astounding organic blends of composite objects.
Considered by many the king of the solids modeling operations, Booleans in formZ can be applied to both 2D shapes and 3D solids. They are complemented by the Trim and Stitch operations which can be applied to surfaces. The unique ability of formZ to apply Booleans to both 2D shapes and 3D solids allows you to mix the two as you model your designs. For example, you can start with basic 2D shapes, and then union or cut holes into them to derive a composite 2D shape. This shape can then be extruded or used by another operation to derive a 3D model. Or, you can begin with 3D solid primitives, and join or difference them directly as 3D solids.
Trim, Split and Stitch operations
Trim and Stitch are Boolean-like operations that can be applied to surface objects. They can be used to trim (cut) one surface with another, or to split one surface along its intersection with another. The pieces resulting from a trim operation can then be stitched (joined) together to produce a new object. Surface objects can also be trimmed or split with simple lines in a direction perpendicular to a reference plane.
2D and 3D sections
Two dimensional section drawings, as well as true three dimensional solid sections, can be derived from any solid with two clicks of the mouse, using either a cutting plane or a cutting line. The cutting plane can have any arbitrary position and orientation in 3D space. Both 2D sections and views of 3D sections can be taken into the drafting environment for the production of fully detailed construction drawings. When coloring the cutting plane with a color different than that used for the solid object to be cut, this color is preserved and is applied to the cut surfaces, which clearly distinguishes them from other surfaces of the object.
Sets of 2D sections, called contours, can also be derived from solid or surface objects in any orientation, with a single click of the mouse. These contours are always parallel to each other and parallel to a reference plane, which can be any of the Cartesian (orthogonal) planes or any other plane having any orientation in 3D space. This unique feature of formZ makes it possible to subsequently use the contours derived from one object as profiles or control lines for the execution of other modeling operations.
2D and 3D text
Both 2D and 3D TrueType and PostScript text can be generated in the modeling environment, and 2D text in drafting, using any of the fonts available on your machine. Text can be created as plain text or as an object, which can be a surface or a solid object. Solid text can also be rounded or beveled. A variety of text placement methods are available, including the placement of text on or between fully editable control lines. 3D text is typically created as a controlled entity which can be edited and changed after its initial generation. The content of a text string, its font, size, or any of its parameters can be changed any number of times. Also, the shape of the control lines, which may be used for the generation of text, can be edited and reshaped using the controlled curve editing tools. Two bit text, such as Japanese and Chinese, is also supported, and can be generated when running under the appropriate operating system. It is generally treated in a manner similar to the Latin text.
2D and 3D symbols
Any combination of 2D shapes in drafting, or any combination of 3D objects in modeling can easily be defined as symbols and stored in symbol libraries. One unique aspect of the formZ symbol libraries is that they contain both a modeling and drafting portion where frequently used objects can be stored as 3D symbols together with their orthographic projections as used in floor plans and elevations in drafting. In addition symbol libraries can carry up to three levels of detail so that the same symbol can be used with little detail in a small drawing scale or more detail in a larger scale. Symbols in general not only save the time needed to reconstruct or copy a model used elsewhere, they are also efficient memory-wise. formZ is shipped with symbol libraries of frequently used furniture. Because symbols are placed as instances, it is easy to apply universal changes that affect all the placements of the same symbol. Also, symbols make it convenient to evaluate alternatives for the same design.
These operations offer you the unique ability to attach either parts of objects or complete objects to other objects. This can be done in a variety of ways, and in a manner such that the attached object aligns properly with the entity to which it is attached. Attaching parts of objects to other objects changes the shape of the attached object, and allows you to produce modeling compositions which are virtually impossible to do in any other way. Attaching objects to other objects, and either adjusting or not adjusting the size of the attached object to the size of the entity to which it is attached, offers unparalleled compositional possibilities.
Individual or groups of segments (edges) can be extended to a surface of an object. This powerful feature allows you to quickly sketch volumetric modeling compositions, and then extend the edges of your objects to properly line them up with other objects in the composition.
The unique ability to insert segments, volumes, cavities, and holes into a solid allows you to create complex forms which continue to be single solid objects. Segment insertions allow you to divide surfaces. Then these segments, or other parts of the object, can be moved to change its shape. Volumes are inserted by "gluing" them to the surfaces of solids, in any desirable orientation. The end result is sculpted volumes such as stairs, columns, walls, or overhangs.
The drafting module in formZ, while its initial intention is to support the modeling, it can also be used by itself to create drawings. Modeling and drafting are integrated and you can transport drawing from one to the other without exiting formZ. Drafting in formZ offers all the usual drawing tools and in addition unique tools not available in other drafting programs, such as 2D Booleans. It also offers associative dimensioning and hatching, editable line types and weights, both bit-mapped and outline text, and in general all the tools necessary to produce presentation or construction drawings. Some drafting examples are shown below. However, note that the low resolution bitmaps on the web cannot properly reproduce the drawings as they would normally appear when printed on a laser printer or plotter
Extensive import and export
3D import/Export formats: 3DStudio, ArtLantis, DWG, DXF, FACT, IGES, Lightscape, Lightwave, OBJ, RIB, SAT, Shockwave, W3D, STEP, STL, 3DGF, 3DMF, VRML 2D Import/Export formats: BMP, EPS, HPGL, Illustrator 8, JPEG 2000, MacPaint, Photoshop, PICT, Piranesi, PNG, QuickTIme image, SGI Image, TGA, TARGA, TIFF
Panoramic views can also be saved independently as still unwrapped images of modeling environments. They can be created at any resolution using any of the rendering modes available in formZ and RenderZone: wire frames, hidden lines, flat or smooth shaded images, photorealistic z-buffer and ray traced renderings.
Straight up perspective
Straight up perspective also known as architectural perspective is a constructed view of mixed character that keeps your walls vertical for better readability of building and urban design presentations.
View matching to background images is as simple as moving the four points of a rectangle to place them on a rectangle in the image. This lets you blend new models into existing environments with ease.
Rapid prototyping is made easy within formZ with the ability to export files as an STL file. In an STL file, the surfaces of a model are represented by triangular polygons. Some rapid prototyping machines also accept IGES or DXF formats. A rapid prototyping machine reconstructs the model from the input file and slices it at relatively small increments, which may vary from 1/1000 inch (0.025mm) to 12/250 inch (0.1mm). Each layer is built and stacked on top of the previous layer until the entire model is generated.
2D 3D digitizing
2D 3D digitizing is supported through two distinct modes, screen and world. In the latter mode, the digitizer's workspace is directly mapped into formZ's world space, which makes devices such as Immersion's MicroScribe-3D valuable partners in 3D modeling.
Walk through animation
Platonic solids, soccer balls, lathed and geodesic spheres The unique spherical objects that formZ can create consist of the complete set of Platonic solids, the soccer ball, and both lathed and geodesic spheres. All the spherical objects can be derived directly in 3D space with a few clicks of the mouse, and can be scaled and stretched as they are created, which allows the creation of elliptical forms. The classical Platonic solids are symmetrically "perfect" forms that consist of equal polygonal faces. These Platonic solids can be further manipulated using other tools in formZ, such as beveling the corner points or edges, to create another vast group of symmetrically spherical objects.
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