Hi all, I am a PhD student in engineering, and a complete n00b to Blender and CAD software (though I’ve been reading…). I need to create a digital model of a lobster antennule (long story there…) that can be fed into a fluid dynamics code that solves for water flow around the (rigid) structure. I would be going off of actual measurements of real specimens - the model must be completely well defined (no ambiguous lengths, angles, or features that are not known precisely). I’m not sure that Blender is the right program for this, and if not, I am open to commercial software (there’s a fair chance I can obtain even high-end software like Pro/E or NX since I’m an academic user at a large university). Any advice on what program is best, or good modeling techniques for this problem, is very much appreciated! Here are my concerns/needs:
Since a lobster antennule is somewhat “curvy,” perhaps a combination of constructive geometry and free form modeling might be best? The structure consists of a cylindrical stalk, with many rows of hairs (some straight, some curved) lining the stalk in a specific, repeating pattern and orientation. The physical scales span centimeters (stalk length) to micrometers (hair diameter), though initially I may just do a millimeter long subsection. I’d like the ability to easily modify model properties (change an orientation angle or hair diameter or number of hairs).
The export format would ideally be a text file consisting of all the vertex coordinates of a surface mesh. All I need to model and save is the surface shape. It sounds like the STL format may work. The need for a universal, simple export format is critical for use in the CFD code later.
Another critical need: I need to be able to output a very high resolution mesh (ideally, an arbitrary number of surface coordinates) to the export file. I’d like to be able to vary the output mesh resolution while maintaining a “perfect” (read: mathematical, continuous) description of the model internally. Is this even possible? It sounds like spline-based NURBS may be better than a mesh model here, since a mesh model is locked into a given resolution?
Would Blender work for this? Or would something else be better, ignoring factors such as cost? A steep learning curve is OK, but I’d rather not learn a program only to discover it won’t work for this. Thanks for any advice (and sorry about the long n00b post).