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SurfDriver software/DXF-IGES conversion (summary)

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  • SurfDriver software/DXF-IGES conversion (summary)

    Here is a summary of the responses that I received to my original
    query. First, the original question:

    Is anybody familiar with the SurfDriver software? It's
    a nice little program for generating 2D contours from
    .bmp images (e.g. MRI, CT, histological sections) and then
    creating 3D entities from those contours. The program
    can export the objects in DXF format. However, most finite
    element programs read in IGES data only.
    First, I should admit my ignorance of the two file formats.
    I know the DXF format from exporting 2D vector drawings
    from AutoCAD. Is a DXF file of a 3D object truly 3D data
    that would be useful for building an FE model? Does anybody know
    a cheap solution for translating DXF files to IGES? I
    would be generating just a few solid models, but the only
    commercial translator packages that I have found, via the
    www, are prohibitively expensive.

    Thank you to all who responded. From the responses, I found out that:

    1. DXF files now contain true 3D data, despite being originally
    written as a method to transport 2D drafting files between
    CAD (Computer Aided Drafting/Design) systems.

    2. IGES translation capabilities are built into several CAD packages
    such as AutoCAD and Cadkey, but often as an extra cost upgrade.
    This extra cost can be very high!

    3. The ease of conversion of this 3D data to a form that can be
    used to generate a finite-element solid model depends on the
    way that the 3D surface is represented by the original software (in
    this case SurfDriver). Surfaces represented by tiles (small triangles)
    are often easily transformed into a solid model. See, for example, this
    nice paper from Marco Viceconti:

    take a look at
    It is full paper in Acrobat format which will be published in the
    proceedeings of CMBBE97.
    In that paper I describe a technique we have succesfully used to treat
    tiled solids with solid modellers.

    If the surfaces are represented by higher-order curves and splines, then
    the process can be a little more difficult.

    4. A lot of people asked about the SurfDriver software. The web page can
    be found at:
    and can also be found by following links from the Visible
    Human web page if you want to read related material.
    The software does a nice job of handling the bifurcations that have to
    be modelled when generating 3D structures from anatomical data.
    Apparently there is a fix on the way to allow the software to handle
    shapes with cavities, such as the medullary canal in bones. I have tried
    the demo version of the software on some coarse bitmaps of the
    Visible Human data set and the resulting shape seems fairly good, although
    there are some strange transitions from one contour to the next that
    may be a result of the crude detail level that I tried. Try it
    yourself and see!

    Stephen Ferguson
    ASIF Reseach Institute
    Davos, Switzerland

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