3D printing software review: MeshFusion for MODO
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3D printing software review: MeshFusion for MODO

on Sep 26 2014 , 07:53:34

Modo was founded when a handful of people from Newtek decided to leave to start their own company called Luxology. Their goal was to make a user-friendly, well-integrated computer graphics package. Instead of four or more clicks per operation,with  Modo the number of clicks would be decreased significantly.

(Read: A Review of 3D Modeling Software for 3D printing)

Modo has continued to advance in computer graphics. Starting out as only a modeler, then following with a render, animation, including rigging tools and dynamics – interoperating all new features, as if they had always been there.

The development of Modo got a great boost when The Foundry merged with Luxology back in late 2012. The Foundry is better known for their high end tools for TV and Movies.

This year The Foundry released Modo 801, the latest in line of great Modo releases. As we are mostly interested in tools to create 3D printable content, we will focus on just those tools. Modo does not disappoint. Modo has succeeded by improving their preexisting modeling tools and by fixing bugs.

All the tools in Modo are small building blocks combined to create the tools one uses to model. These small blocks can be combined to create new tools and features for modeling or anything else you might think of; from action centers to selections and many more. All tools with in Modo can be combined thus giving you a great deal of freedom. If there is not a tool in Modo and you want that new tool, you can create it and use it and even share it with the Modo community.

Modo has a robust support for 3rd party plugins and scripts and you can customize the user interface to your liking. Since we are interested in 3D printing, this means we can remove all the tools that apply to other functions, such as animation tools or rigging tools.

The biggest change is the addition of MeshFusion for Modo.

If you have ever used Booleans in any polygon modeling packages you know how much of a pain it is and how problematic the tool can be, from creating errors in your model to creating an unusable surface for high resolution models in Sub-D. Yet Booleans in CAD is a usually a joy to use in comparison, creating new designs from basic shapes.

MeshFusion has been able to fix this issue in Modo, by introducing a comprehensive Boolean tool-set into the Modo pipeline. One of the issues we can have in Polygon modeling is keeping our creations watertight for 3D printing and by creating a good surface without artifacts – artifacts that could make a great looking object unprintable.

However, this can be greatly improved with MeshFusion. Building up an object from basic shapes into a complex creation, which includes any custom shapes you create yourself. You can reate these objects from the use of three basic Boolean tools: Union, Subtract, and intersect.

To see how this works, take a look at this video provided by the Foundry:  or a basic intro in using  this  tool seen in the video.

A couple of caveats in the new MeshFusion

Sometimes you may not get the watertight mesh you are seeking right off the bat and you may need tweak the settings. The basic MeshFusion setup is using 3D Tree Fusion to display all your 3D objects you used to create your design. This is a basic tool set and may not work as your object becomes more complex. Thankfully you can convert or start out with Schematic Fusion using Modo’s nodes instead therefore allowing access to more complex operations. At the same time, if you are not using node based operations, this can be a little over whelming.

Another issue you might run into is the mesh you generate from MeshFusion which might be too polygon heavy. For this you may want to use Modo’s Retopology tools. To create an object that better suits your needs.

Couple of other create features you can add to Modo

They have a plug-in that will allow you to export what you have created in Modo out into Nurbs. In other words, if your CAD package supports Nurbs you can create your design in Modo and then export it into your CAD package for further development.  Another plugin for the CAD user are the Power Translators for MODO which allows for the importing of complex CAD data sets into Modo for further development.

The Foundry wants to make Modo an application that plays nice with other packages. From your CAD package to your favorite sculpting software, like ZBrush, to your favorite slicer software for 3D printing – supporting .stl and .obj.

Another coolthing about Modo is  that you can run it on your average laptop. This reviewer is using the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13. So far, I’ve had no m,major issues using Modo. Now if Modo crashes a lot while using it, you may have to turn off a simple setting in Preferences under OpenGL > Turn off VBO mode.

The Foundry has a free 15 day trial and it retails for a single license for $1495. MeshFusion retails for $395.00. Modo is definitely a worthwhile application. Confession: I have used it scene version 301 and it has improved greatly, one update at a time.

Mike Grauer Jr is a Puget Sound area 3D printing consultant and evangelist for home 3D printing. He has a BFA in Animation and a MBA in marketing. He is active in all areas of 3D printing.

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