Scan&Solve Brings “Meshfree” Structural Analysis to Rhino 3D

The vision is to create “seamless integration between geometric design and physical simulation.” But is it really meshless?

Scan&Solve is a new plug-in for Rhino 3D that automates basic structural testing of solids. Unlike other analysis tools, no pre-processing (meshing simplification, translating, etc.) is required for use.

A quick check of a steel part at the corner of a membrane structure.

The developer, Intact Solutions, says it is building Scan&Solve with a vision of creating “seamless integration between geometric design and physical simulation.” The company says no meshing or conversions are required and no prior knowledge of analysis or finite elements is needed.

The product is still in beta testing, and is currently free to download and use. The current version of Rhino 3D from Robert McNeel and Associates is required. The free evaluation version of Rhino can run Scan&Solve, allowing designers who do not currently use Rhino to evaluate Scan&Solve.

Analysis of a bottle design, created in Rhino 3D using Scan&Solve

20 Years to Get It Right
Intact Solutions founder Vadim Shapiro says it took 20 years to get to the point where Scan&Solve could become a commercial product. Writing at his blog, Shapiro says, “The fundamental principle is straightforward: once you have a geometric representation of a shape, you know everything there is to know about it, and should be able to compute whatever is needed directly from this native representation, without converting into something called ‘mesh’.”

Shapiro says working with native representations means “your results are only as good as your representation. Fortunately, Rhino users have a great representation of solids.”

Simple teeth loads on a fixed gear center.

Is It Really Meshless?
Shapiro says there is really no such thing as meshless analysis. “However, it is definitely meshfree,” he says, “in the sense that the users should never see or deal with the mesh.”

There is a white paper available that dives into the math. Shapiro claims the process behind Scan&Solve is “theoretically sound and experimentally verified, and can be used for any and all types of physical analysis and simulation tasks.”

Scan&Solve in Use
To use, select the material, choose restraints and specify loads on the faces of the solid model, then click GO to see the predicted performance (strength, weakness) of the shape. Depending on shape complexity and chosen resolution, the results may take a few minutes.

New features in the latest builds include:

  • Gravity load option
  • Support for brittle materials like cast iron, concrete, and glass
  • Updated and simplified material database
  • Faster visualization for large models
  • Interactive min/max value reporting
  • Revised boundary condition annotation
  • Online video tutorials

Bridge Deformation Video (Below)
The geometry was created in Rhino using a reference photo taken from the side. The pillar diameter and transverse pillar spacing were then used as scaling parameters. The pillars were extruded to match up with the bottom surface of the rails and then combined together. The only loading is due to its own weight. High Strength concrete material was used, but no rebar was included.