From: William D. Richards (
Date: Fri Jun 25 1999 - 05:57:22 EEST

> I am using FormZ since that is what was being taught online through
>Temple University. I felt, and do feel, that I was best served by going
>with software that came with inexpensive and extensive training such as
>was offered through a semester long college class.
> Now, reading through all these posts, and from several private e-mails,
>FormZ is not apparently viewed within this RP community as being robust.
>What I am wondering is this: should I be looking into some of these higher
>end software packages now that I am familiar with CAD or is my art
>oriented jewelry modeling not suited to these engineering grade programs.
> So far I have been very happy with FormZ but since I have not tried
>anything else, I do not know what I do not know.
> Steven Pollack
> For more information about the rp-ml, see <>...


You're impression about the opinion of the RP-ML on form-Z comes from the
context of the RP-ML. The vast majority of people using the RP-ML are
engineers who are involved with rapid prototyping applications in the
industrial environment. As a result, the software they are using is geared
more towards engineering and industrial applications.

Most engineering work is pretty much straightforward simple geometry. Most
work in engineering is aimed for simple manufacturing such as die casting
or investment casting, and therefore, the geometry of the models is
relatively "simple," to allow for releases from molds, ease of assembly,

form-Z has been strongly adopted in the graphics arts world. It also has a
strong showing in architectural engineering and is pretty much the package
of choice for 3D form generation for animation (go watch the new Star Wars
movie). These are applications that most engineers working with rapid
prototyping have no focus on.

When you step into the world of organic modeling, in which jewelry design
is heavily entrenched, you are stepping into a whole new level of modeling
and complexity. I can tell you from experience, that most engineering
programs will fall flat on overpriced code when faced with modeling of this
nature. Though many engineering projects that involve RP fall into the
cutting edge of technology, graphics artists are years ahead of engineers
in the realm of 3D graphics and CAD.

The biggest criticism about form-Z comes from its shear power: many people,
myself included, point out that form-Z has a steep learning curve. In a
contradiction, I will also point out that it is very easy to use. So which
is it? It IS easy to use, I learned how to use form-Z on the very first CAD
job I got, and had to learn it on the fly. I was still able to deliver the
model way ahead of the deadline, and it was dead-on accurate resulting in a
perfect build on a Sanders.

So if it is so easy to use, where does that learning curve come in? It
isn't so much learning the program as it is learning the techniques that
are used by graphics artists in general to perform various functions. A
hammer and chisel are pretty easy to use, but how many people can carve a
statue like Michael Angelo's "David" on their first try? That's where that
learning curve comes in!

Bill Richards
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For more information about the rp-ml, see

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