Eight Surfacing Tools You Didn't Know Existed

Written by: Mike Gayette

Creo is a massive 3D CAD application with more features than most single CAD users ever use. Throw in the extensions and you’re covering every discipline from chemicals to drivetrains to factory layouts and oil rigs. And don’t forget to add augmented reality!

Here are eight quick tips from surfacing alone. Have you tried the following to quickly give your models some extra panache?

Version: Creo 5.0

Extension: Various

Mini Toolbar

When you select a curve, surface, or datum, the mini toolbar pops up inside the graphics window or the Style Tree. The tools you’ll most likely need are right beside the mouse arrow. It’s faster and more convenient than crossing the screen to find those same buttons on the various tabs. Also, if you’re used to older versions of Creo, you’ll notice commands like Edit Definition and Suppress moved from the shortcut (right-click) menu to the mini toolbar.

Mini toolbars

You can see more about the mini toolbar here:

Flipping lofts

Did you know loft surfaces with normal connections, with a simple tap, can be flipped from one side of a boundary curve to the other side? The Flip Direction command shows up when you right-click the normal connection symbol on the loft surface. Simple as that!

Watch the feature in action in our video.

Slice of shapes by plane in Freestyle

The Mesh Slice command in Freestyle let you slice shapes along a desired datum plane.  Needing perfect symmetry? Select one of the sliced shapes and mirror them along a given datum plane.  Look at the results here and then watch the video to see how it’s done.

Freestyle slicing

Video here: 

Preview imported objects in Freestyle

Mixed environments are just how things run in CAD shops. Compatibility is paramount to efficient input and output of projects. If Waveform OBJ files are part of your Freestyle workflow, you can easily preview them before importing. Use the Import Options to define the Facet Units and to select the Flip normal direction checkbox if necessary. You can rename the shapes before importing, and each shape is listed and separately indicated in the Freestyle Tree.

Examples shown in the video:

Freestyle surfacing in Box mode

Box mode surfacing helps you create features faster than using standard mode. When manipulating complex geometry, toggle to Box mode to improve the system performance.  When done, switch back to standard mode to see the defined surfaces.

You can still perform surface operations in standard mode. In fact, all surface operations work in both modes, so moving between them only helps your efficiency.

This quick video shows the differences in Box mode and surfacing, and how the manipulations affect your modeling.

Snapping when adding edges improved in Freestyle

Creating geometry with precision takes time, but Freestyle has a few mesh enhancements you might not see in other places. When you add an edge, notice how the target edge appears highlighted when the pointer hovers over it. Icons also appear under certain conditions: the center point on the target edge, when the new edge is parallel to the adjacent edge, and when the new edge completes an isosceles triangle.

See the efficiency boost for yourself:

Align curvature in Freestyle

In the Freestyle interface, click on Freestyle > Align > Align Curvature. Wait, what does that do, exactly?

The Align Curvature command helps you maintain the continuity of already aligned shapes. For example, if you want to connect two surfaces that may not line up perfectly, using Align Curvature changes each of the surfaces to create a smoother, matched shape, like the one shown below.

This is especially useful when attaching pieces of tubing, as shown in our video:

Align to Non-G2 chains

Why use Freestyle if you can’t connect the objects to your existing geometry? Well, the good news is the Freestyle Align command makes aligning Freestyle shapes to non-G2 chains a snap. In fact, you can align Freestyle edges to external curves or edges that are G0, G1, G2, or G3. Once connected, you can toggle between align options and watch the model update dynamically.

See how we take a non-G2 shape and successfully align it with a Freestyle extrusion in the following:

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You can try out many of these features with your own designs today. Download the free trial. Available now!

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Tags: CAD

About the Author

Mike Gayette

Mike Gayette is a marketing professional and freelance writer based in North Dakota. He writes about engineering software, marketing technology, customer service, and team building. He also spends time at the local humane society as a dog walker and cat entertainer.