Interactive Modeling of Mechanical Objects

Francisca Gil Ureta, Chelsea Tymms, Denis Zorin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objects with various types of mechanical joints are among the most commonly built. Joints implement a vocabulary of simple constrained motions (kinematic pairs) that can be used to build more complex behaviors. Defining physically correct joint geometry is crucial both for realistic appearance of models during motion, as these are typically the only parts of geometry that stay in contact, and for fabrication. Direct design of joint geometry often requires more effort than the design of the rest of the object geometry, as it requires design of components that stay in precise contact, are aligned with other parts, and allow the desired range of motion. We present an interactive system for creating physically realizable joints with user-controlled appearance. Our system minimizes or, in most cases, completely eliminates the need for the user to manipulate low-level geometry of joints. This is achieved by automatically inferring a small number of plausible combinations of joint dimensions, placement and orientation from part geometry, with the user making the final high-level selection based on object semantic. Through user studies, we demonstrate that functional results with a satisfying appearance can be obtained quickly by users with minimal modeling experience, offering a significant improvement in the time required for joint construction, compared to standard modeling approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalComputer Graphics Forum
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Categories and Subject Descriptors (according to ACM CCS)
  • I.3.3 [Computer Graphics]: Computational Geometry and Object Modeling—[Geometric algorithms, languages, and systems]

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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