SAT Files

The SAT-format feature handles import and export precise geometric boundary representation (BREP) data, also known as ACIS solids, for trimmed surfaces, solids models and assemblies as 3ds Max "Body Objects.” SAT-format objects can come from Autodesk programs such as Revit and Inventor, as well as third-party software like Rhino and Catia.

Hair dryer body from Autodesk Inventor

Also included: Join Bodies and Body Cutter, which are commands for combining and subtracting Body Objects using Boolean operations; the ability to convert native 3ds Max objects to Body Objects; a utility for setting properties for multiple Body Objects at the same time; and Body Object-specific snap options.

When you import an SAT file, the resulting objects are Body Objects, and you can adjust their settings on the Modify panel using the rollouts described in this section. You can also use the Body Objects tools on the Create panel to work with imported Body Objects and convert 3ds Max primitives to Body Object format.

In addition to using the controls described in this section, you can apply a number of different 3ds Max modifiers to Body Objects, adjust the modifier settings to change their shapes or mapping, and then export the modified objects as ACIS solids without losing any data. The supported modifiers are listed in Editable Body Object Rollout.


To use modifiers with Body Objects:

One of the most useful workflows with the SAT feature set is to import solid geometry, deform it with 3ds Max modifiers, and then export an SAT file, still in the ACIS solids format.

  1. Export your geometry in SAT format from a solid-modeling program such as Autodesk Inventor or Revit. Alternatively, you can import Inventor IAM and IPT files directly as Body Objects Body Objects
  2. Import the SAT, IAM, or IPT file into 3ds Max. For details on the import parameters, see SAT Import Dialog or Importing Autodesk Inventor Files.
    TipFor optimal performance with large files (over 100MB), use the 64-bit version of 3ds Max with a large-memory system (8GB or more) and set the display to a single viewport before importing.

    For an SAT file, on the Import dialog, set Viewport Body Mesh Quality to Coarse.

    For an IAM or IPT file, import as Body Objects and then choose the Coarse setting on the Viewport Display Settings rollout after importing.

    The result is one or more Body Objects, which is the format solid geometry uses inside 3ds Max.

  3. Select each Body Object you plan to deform, and on the Modify panel set its Viewport Display Settings rollout Max Edge Len. % value to 2.0 or 3.0.
    TipYou can adjust viewport display settings for multiple objects simultaneously by selecting them and using the Body Utility tool.

    This setting provides for enough polygons for deforming planar faces.

  4. Apply a Mesh Select modifier to a Body Object, and then apply a deforming modifier such as Bend or Twist.

    The Mesh Select modifier converts the Body Object temporarily to mesh format, so it can deform more readily.

  5. Adjust the deforming modifier settings to obtain the desired results. If you like, apply other deforming modifiers and adjust them as well.

    For a list of supported modifiers, see Modifiers and Body Objects.

  6. Optionally, use the additional SAT tools described in this section to modify the Body Object. For example, you can convert native 3ds Max primitives to Body Objects and combine them with your geometry, optionally using Boolean operations such as Union, Intersect, and Subtract.
  7. When you’ve achieved the desired results, delete or turn off the Mesh Select modifier,
    NoteThere might be a delay after disabling Mesh Select, while the software applies the modifier effects directly to the solid geometry.
  8. You can now use the deformed object for rendering, or export it to a solid-modeling program as an SAT file.

To render Body Objects:

  1. Import an SAT or Inventor file as Body Objects.
  2. Group the different Body Objects in the file according to material property using layers, named selection sets, groups, or Containers.
  3. Inspect it visually for completeness. If there are holes in the surface, they're probably indicative of faces that need to be flipped.
  4. To correct for any holes, select the object, go to the Modify panel, and on the Editable Body Object rollout, click Face Flip. This opens the Face Flipping/Visibility rollout.
  5. On the Face Flipping/Visibility rollout, click Flip Faces Mode and then go around the model and click where the holes are. This reverses those faces so they're facing in the correct direction. When finished, click Face Flip again to close the rollout.
  6. When you render the object, the software creates a mesh whose resolution depends on the Rendering Approximation rollout settings. Use these settings to adjust how the object renders, as follows:
    1. Start with the Production Render Mesh Quality Preset, which is the default setting, and render. If the rendering is satisfactory and completes in a reasonable amount of time, you're done.
    2. If the rendering takes too long, try the Draft or Good preset.
    3. If, on the other hand, further improvement in the rendering quality is necessary, adjust the settings. For example, try reducing the Face Approx Angle to 20, and the Chord setting to 0.25. Also try setting low values for Edge Chord and Max Edge (set the latter to about 20).
    4. If edges render where they shouldn't, turn on Weld And Smooth Mesh.
    5. If the render-mesh quality is satisfactory but it takes a long time to render, and you want to try rendering from different angles or with different lighting, turn on Save Render Mesh. This saves time by precalculating and caching the render mesh.
  7. Render the model, make further adjustments as necessary, and re-render.
  8. If you want to render an animation, you’ll get faster results by turning on Render Approximation rollout Use Viewport Mesh, and then adjusting the Viewport Display Settings rollout parameters accordingly.
See Also
  • Body Objects Category

    Available on the Create panel drop-down list of object types is the Body Objects entry. When you choose this item, the Object Type rollout contains four buttons for different features of the SAT plug-in, described in this topic.

  • Combining Body Objects

    This section contains rollouts concerned with combining Body Objects with Join Bodies and Body Cutter.

  • Import/Export/Snaps

    This section covers dialogs for importing, exporting, and snapping to Body Objects.