Heightmap Terrain Project

I recently did another project with CharlesCampbellArt helping streamline his manufacturing process. The project consisted of using heightmap terrains overlaid with a hexagon grid to trace out the curves of the terrain for lasercut acrylic and metal. His old process was a very manual one using fusion 360 to slice it up and get the relevant geometry. As anyone who has used fusion 360 for this process knows it can be very time consuming and frustrating experience doing boolean mesh operations within fusion 360. He had already started using Blender for some of his workflow and I suggested doing a more procedural method using geometry nodes. I setup a process to create the grid network with suitable adjustments for the final material and tolerances. Using Blenders builtin modifiers and geometry nodes allowed going from a black and white heightmap to a layout with all vertical panels ready for nesting. There is still some manual steps to allow for placement of the grid and sizing but the arduous task of boolean operations and laying them out for manufacture was implemented with a geometry node plugin that rightfully abused the new UV unwrap node.

One of issues to overcome was keeping track of what goes where for once it’s manufactured it must be reassembled in a specific configuration. Since geometry nodes is quite new and still under active development it’s missing a few things that would allow using strings procederally in the way I needed. Luckily I found a node group that would work so that all faces are numbered and are visible both before and after the unwrap.

I always enjoy helping artists overcome technical challenges and seeing things come to life. Its also especially gratifying to show people the power of Blender and get more people interested in this great opensource software.