Decomposing complex thin-walled CAD models for hexahedral-dominant meshing

Liang Sun, Christopher M. Tierney, Cecil G. Armstrong, Trevor T. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes an automatic method for identifying thin-sheet regions (regions with large lateral dimensions relative to the thickness) for complex thin-walled components, with a view to using this information to guide the hexahedral (hex) meshing process. This fully automated method has been implemented in a commercial CAD system (Siemens NX) and is based on the interrogation and manipulation of face pairs, which are sets of opposing faces bounding potential thin-sheet regions. Careful consideration is given to the mapping, merging and intersection of face pairs to generate topologies suitable for sweep meshing the thin-sheet regions, and for treating the junctions between adjacent thin-sheet regions. It is proposed that hex meshes be applied to thin-sheet regions by quad meshing one of the faces bounding the thin-sheet region and sweeping it through the thickness to create hex elements. Decisions on the generation and positioning of the cutting surfaces required to isolate thin-sheet regions are made by considering the likely impact on the quality of the resulting mesh. The method delivers a substantial step towards automatic hex meshing for complex thin-walled geometries. A significant reduction of the degrees of freedom (DOF) can be achieved by applying anisotropic hex elements to the identified thin-sheet regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-131
Number of pages14
JournalCAD Computer Aided Design
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 2018


  • Automatic volume decomposition
  • Geometric reasoning
  • Hexahedral-dominant meshing
  • Sweeping
  • Thin-sheet identification


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