Nothing is exact - the role of geometry in R/D for CAD software

Staff - Faculty of Informatics

Date: 19 July 2024 / 11:00 - 12:00

USI East Campus, Room D0.02

Speaker: Pieter Barendrecht, Plasticity

Abstract: Upon exploring any CAD package, you will likely encounter core features such as Boolean unions/differences, rolling ball blends and support for spline curves and surfaces. These functionalities are typically not built from scratch by the software developers, but are integrated through a geometrical modelling kernel. This underlying engine accelerates the development of CAD applications that can handle familiar 2D and 3D geometries and operations. However, such kernels eventually come with their limitations, necessitating the creation of custom, often highly specialized features. Prototyping such features is a fascinating interdisciplinary endeavour, blending calculus, linear algebra, and differential geometry. In this talk, we will delve into several examples, from straightforward nonlinear optimization to the complex theory behind composite spline surfaces.


Pieter obtained a BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering, specialising in Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) with a focus on numerical simulations using the Finite Element Method. His interest in design led him to Computer-Aided Design (CAD), where he concentrated on diverse applications of spline curves and surfaces. This journey progressed to a PhD in Computer Graphics, where he focused on subdivision surfaces, vector graphics and modern graphics APIs. Following his PhD, Pieter enhanced his expertise through two postdoctoral positions. The first was in Architectural Geometry, where he explored the synergy between design and mathematics using nonlinear optimisation, whereas the second focused on the use of the Boundary Element Method for numerical simulations. These diverse experiences have come together in his current role in R&D at the innovative CAD start-up Plasticity. In his spare time, Pieter enjoys designing and manufacturing both 2D and 3D objects, often at the Makerspace in Basel. Applying techniques from Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), he continually explores new possibilities in digital and physical fabrication.

Host: Prof. Kai Hormann