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TAM: Tool Assisted Meshing

by A.Smirnov

TAM is a 3D mesh generator, which realizes a patented technique, based on a concept of tool-assisted mesh generation, when a shaping tool is used to create the mesh, and a combination of edge-wise cell splitting and elliptic smoothing procedures ensure its uniformity.

In its current implementation the method uses another patented algorithm based on the tissue-growth model. A characteristic feature of this model is that the outer boundary of the mesh being created is always smooth, and therefore, can be easily conformed to the specified domain boundaries.

The picture below shows the outer boundary of a 3D mesh of bifurcating tubes representing a generic biological structure. The internal nodes of the mesh are not shown for clariy.

Animations: branching, close view, far view.

In contrast to the conventional mesh generation methods where a 3D mesh is generated by first specifying a 2D surface and then propagating the mesh front, in the current technique the mesh is constructed, starting from a one-dimensional skeleton or a frame and moving the shaping tool along the prescribed 1D lines (a manual tool control is also possible). This enables a simpler mesh generation and provides for higher mesh uniformity.

The advantage of the method is that it is conceptually similar to 2D paint-programms, where a collection of different tools can be used for different paint operations. Translated to 3D gridding, this concept has a potential for simpler user interfaces and more robust and intuitive mesh generation. For example, the geometry of the figures above was encoded in a short script file, which specifies the scenario of tool(s) motion through the space, i.e. it defines the sequece of tool positions, tool-type, size and orientation at each position. A manual control of the tool(s) will be realized in future.

Another feature of the method is a strict locality, which makes the speed of execution of the algorithm independent of the size of the mesh and provides for an easy implementation on parallel computer platforms.

The method can be used for complete mesh generation or for mesh alignments of already existing geometries, especially in operations of patching different mesh sections (blocks).


The method has a potential in biomedical applications, for handling flexible tissues, and in the problems of fluid-structure interaction. The problems with moving boundaries (piston-cylinder assembly) is another potential area of application.

Related topics

Graphical User Interface


This study was performed at West Virginia University, sponsored by College of Engineering and Miniral resources"

Bibliography (bibtex format)

author={Smirnov, A.V.},
title={Tool assisted mesh generation based on a tissue-growth model},
journal={Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing},

Paper (pdf, 120KB)

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