What is it about?

Loft is a free NASA program that creates models of aircraft, rockets, landers, and other aerospace vehicles and parts. One reason to use it is to create models very quickly. Another is to create models that can be easily updated. A third is to add easy model creation to a collection of other tools. Loft reads a text instruction input file and outputs in 3D-printing (STL), Virtual Reality (VRML), and engineering structural analysis (NASTRAN, Abaqus, Tecplot) formats. The engineering models have property and group labeling that make sizing, weight estimation, and post processing easy in tools like Patran, HyperSizer, and HyperX. Loft generated models are clean with 99% 4-node quads and consistent normal and material orientation vectors.

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Why is it important?

Rapid model creation and updating allows the exploration and comparison of a wide variety of ideas quickly. Hundreds or thousands of possible designs can be tested to determine the best option for your needs. Built in support for mathematical equations including trig, roots, and exponentials allows for easy, clear, parametric modeling.


I have used Loft for 20 years to produce scores of models of vehicles, components like nose cones and wings, and 3-D printed props for demonstrations. Those models have contributed to multiple NASA projects including Constellation, Space Launch System, Human Landing System, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator, etc. The code has allowed me to quickly create a high-quality preliminary design model, update it as the program progresses, and rapidly perform trade studies.

Lloyd Eldred

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Loft, An Automated Parametric Mesh Generator for Stiffened Shell Aerospace Vehicles, January 2024, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA),
DOI: 10.2514/6.2024-2459.
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