A terrain imported using Plex-Earth is imported as a dynamic object unique to our software in the form of contour lines. As it is a dynamic Plex-Earth object, it can be modified as needed using the tools in the Terrain Editor and then the Insert functionality is used to place a static AutoCAD object such as contour polylines, points, and TIN meshes.
To better understand the morphology of a terrain, a 3D mesh, one of the most useful tools utilized by engineers, can be generated to represent it. Furthermore, analyzing the terrain can identify locations that may need more attention or can be deemed more problematic. This can improve the flow of information and eliminate structural inefficiencies, human errors, and other factors that weigh down the design cycle.
Plex-Earth offers the following terrain mesh-related objects that are inserted as static CAD objects and can be further edited using AutoCAD or BricsCAD:
A. TIN Mesh
Generating a surface like a TIN mesh for a topographic survey can be very helpful in designing as the digital means to represent surface morphology. A TIN mesh is comprised of several triangles that form a triangulated irregular network which is very commonly used in elevation modeling. The elevation of any point on the surface is defined by interpolating the elevations of the vertices of the triangles that the point lies in.
TINs are typically used for high-precision modelings, such as in engineering applications, as they allow calculations of planimetric area, surface area, and volume.
It is also mostly useful in mapping highly variable surfaces with irregularly distributed sample data representing the influence of streams, roads, and lakes and examining localized areas.
Note: To change the desired mesh type, use the PXV_VAR_TIN_INSERT_TYPE command and pick either Mesh (default) or Polyface. The TIN grouping can also be changed using the PXV_VAR_TERRAIN_INSERT_TIN_GROUPING command and pick among Blocked (default), Grouped, or Individually.
A mesh model consists of vertices, edges, and faces that use polygonal representation, including triangles and quadrilaterals, to define a 3D shape.
Meshes can be used if you need hiding, shading, and rendering capabilities that wireframe models cannot provide but do not need the physical properties that solid models provide (mass, volume, center of gravity, moments of inertia, and so on). It can also support an extremely higher amount of faces compared to how much a polyface mesh can.
A mesh should be inserted if a user wants to set a smoothness level and the tessellation to the model. With its enhanced modeling capabilities, a mesh model can be modified further through AutoCAD to create more fluid, free-form designs.
When compared to a polyface mesh, a mesh has a cleaner and lighter data representation internally.
A mesh produced with Plex-Earth 2023 in AutoCAD
A polyface mesh represents the surface of an object defined by faces capable of having numerous vertices. It is a three-dimensional mesh of arbitrary complexity and surface characteristics and is constructed with the "special" segments used in 3D polyline construction.
A polyface mesh has certain limits in the number of vertices it supports compared to a mesh that can "vastly" support more faces.
It is usually created by specifying the coordinates for its vertices. Each face is then defined by entering vertex numbers for all the vertices of that face. Specific edges can also be set to be invisible, assign them to layers, or give them colors.
In AutoCAD, polyface mesh is a legacy type of mesh object. It is usually used when there is a need to translate it by DXF to another program, which does not recognize the new mesh object. Morover, applying smoothness or tessellation to a polyface mesh is not supported, unlike the newer mesh object.
A polyface mesh produced with Plex-Earth 2023 in AutoCAD
B. Terrain Analysis Objects
If a dynamic terrain analysis has been performed with Plex-Earth, a user can insert a static analysis object in various formats such as 3D faces, 2D solids, and mesh. These are offered to aid better visualization depending on the specific purpose.
Find more information about performing a terrain analysis via Plex-Earth in this tutorial.
A 3D face is a three-sided or four-sided surface in 3D space. It can be created parallel to the current UCS and can be extruded.
Its definition points are determined in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction so that one edge of a 3D surface is used as the baseline for the next 3D surface.
You can also draw invisible lines to increase the clarity of complicated 3D structures. The edges of a 3D face that are visible can be controlled, allowing accurate modeling of objects, especially those with holes. This feature is also useful when dealing with complex drawings containing a large number of 3D surfaces as hidden lines make the drawing more understandable.
Individual 3D faces can be used to inspect a specific area and its three-dimensional aspects for more information that may be deemed crucial.
Terrain analysis composed of 3D faces in Plex-Earth 2023
Unlike 3D faces, 2D solids are solid-filled planes that have straight-line borders (triangles or quadrilaterals) in a two-dimensional space. They are filled only when the FILLMODE system variable is on (1) and the viewing direction is orthogonal to the 2D solid.
A 2D solid is created by determining and connecting any number of three- or four-cornered planes - the order in which the points are entered influences the resulting shape.
In Plex-Earth, 2D solids are inserted as solid-filled triangles lying on a plane. This can be helpful in instances where the z-axis values are not necessary but may still be implied through the displayed analysis.
Terrain Analysis composed of 2D solids in Plex-Earth 2023
A terrain analysis can also be inserted as a block of multi-colored meshes. It can be separated into several meshes (using the Explode command) with each colored mesh corresponding to a range specified in the selected terrain analysis.
This can be useful for determining or even isolating certain areas that need more attention or less, in a three-dimensional environment such as areas with high slope values, unusual shapes, etc.
Terrain analysis as a multi-colored mesh in Plex-Earth 2023
With several mesh-related related terrain object options that you can generate with Plex-Earth, designing and analysis can now be easier and more efficient than ever before.
We hope that you have found this article about terrain mesh objects, helpful. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you may still have.
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