Fast swept volume approximation of complex polyhedral models

Young J. Kim, Gokul Varadhan, Ming C. Lin, Dinesh Manocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We present an efficient algorithm to approximate the swept volume (SV) of a complex polyhedron along a given trajectory. Given the boundary description of the polyhedron and a path specified as a parametric curve, our algorithm enumerates a superset of the boundary surfaces of SV. The superset consists of ruled and developable surface primitives, and the SV corresponds to the outer boundary of their arrangement. We approximate this boundary by using a five-stage pipeline. This includes computing a bounded-error approximation of each surface primitive, computing unsigned distance fields on a uniform grid, classifying all grid points using fast marching front propagation, iso-surface reconstruction, and topological refinement. We also present a novel and fast algorithm for computing the signed distance of surface primitives as well as a number of techniques based on surface culling, fast marching level-set methods and rasterization hardware to improve the performance of the overall algorithm. We analyze different sources of error in our approximation algorithm and highlight its performance on complex models composed of thousands of polygons. In practice, it is able to compute a bounded-error approximation in tens of seconds for models composed of thousands of polygons sweeping along a complex trajectory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1027
Number of pages15
JournalCAD Computer Aided Design
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2004


  • Distance fields
  • Implicit modeling
  • Swept volume


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