The Basics of Mesh Generation

If you’ve ever wondered how television shows, movies and video games render realistic-looking people, animals and objects, the answer is through meshing. The mesh generation process allows people to render complex shapes on the screen using thousands of tiny cells that fit together.

As you might imagine, this process can have many better and more important uses than rendering fictional characters onscreen—it can also be used to model bridges, structures, cars and any other type of model that people would want to view and test. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “What is mesh generation?” read on to find out!

Mesh generation explained

Although we touched on it briefly above, we did not fully define mesh generation. Before we do that, let’s define a “mesh” first. Simply put, a mesh is a complex network consisting of cells and points that fit together.

Mesh generation, therefore, is the process of taking a set of points and converting them into a polygonal model where vertices, edges and faces fit together by meeting at shared edges. The resulting shape can be almost anything, from a cube to a bridge to a rabbit.

What are facets, edges and vertices in mesh generation?

We used these three terms in our definition above, so let’s take a closer look at them. A facet is a triangle that connects three data points. Meshes are made up of thousands of tiny triangles.

An edge is a line that connects two data points. As you likely know, all triangles have three sides. And a vertex (the singular form of the word “vertices”) is a data point.

So. two vertices join to create an edge, and three edges form a facet.

Can meshes be made up of different shapes than triangles alone?

Yes, for more complicated 3D modeling, like the models used in finite element analysis, shapes such as pyramids, prisms, tetrahedra and hexahedra can be used. This makes sense because a pyramid is basically a three-dimensional series of triangles that fit together.

What are the two types of grid structures when it comes to mesh?

When looking at the grid structure of a mesh, they can be divided into structured and unstructured mesh.

Structured mesh features the cells being set up in a consistent, uniform and distinct pattern. The cells in a structured mesh are also arranged in sequence, making it easy to identify and distinguish adjoining cells. Structured mesh is typically used in simple shapes such as rectangles, ellipses and spheres, and is frequently used in computational fluid dynamics.

Unstructured mesh has more randomly placed cells, doesn’t follow a strict pattern and can thus be used to form virtually any irregularly shaped object. Those properties make unstructured mesh very useful in the field of mechanical engineering.

Call to discuss your engineering needs today

Now that we’ve explained mesh generation, if you need civil engineering assistance with your next project, give us a call at Emc2, Inc. We can offer a variety of services, from structural engineering to geotechnical instrumentation and monitoring, all performed by certified experts at a competitive price. Get in touch with us to learn more.