3D visualisation aids yacht design

Conceptual and surface modelling software have been used to create and refine the exterior shape of a truly innovative, luxury motor yacht. Dean Palmer reports

"Traditional yacht design CAD systems are great for laying out complex deck designs, but for this job, we had to give the designers detailed control and visualisation of some very complex doubly-curved surfaces," explained Kerry Kingston, owner of training and design consultancy firm Bluesmith. "For RWD [Redman Whiteley Dixon - a marine design consultancy firm] the ability to get its hands on an accurate representation of such huge surfaces and fine tune the contours was a revelation."

Kingston is referring to Bluesmith's recent project to help design a luxury motor yacht, the Ilona 4. The firm specialises in using Alias software to create accurate 3D CAD models for the automotive, packaging and product design industries. She continued: "RWD were passionate about their design and determined to create a stunning visual impact. With SurfaceStudio software, we were able to give them an unprecedented level of control."

Ilona 4 has set the marine world on fire. The yacht incorporates an afterdeck helipad and hangar, a 33m master suite, accommodation for 18 guests in six state rooms, a 'cosy' 14-seater cinema, rooms for 28 crew and staff, plus elevator that connects all five of the decks.

From 3D animations, Bluesmith had to develop and deliver the full 3D CAD models for the boat builders in Holland. Bluesmith was provided with native data from the animation models of the yacht, plus detailed 2D CAD drawings of the decks and a physical model.

Explained Kingston: "The animation was a great starting reference for us. We were able to take the yacht design straight into SurfaceStudio and quickly build the detailed 3D CAD models from there. The beauty of working with the software is that we could apply the same high quality surfacing techniques to Ilona that are deployed daily in the automotive industry."

But the key, says Kingston, was the visual feedback you can get from SurfaceStudio. "We could tumble smoothly shaded models on the screen to assess the highlights and relationships of the surfaces, and then use the analytical tools to examine every small blend and feature for the perfection that the designers demanded.

"Mobile phones and shampoo bottles are easy to mill out as prototypes or final mould data, but you cannot do this with a 74m yacht. So, we worked closely with the boatyard in Holland and developed a technique whereby we sent out finely-cut, full size, cross-section data from SurfaceStudio that they could use to accurately implement the design."

Tom Shelley

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