What in the world is a “Squircle” you might ask? Well, its a cross between a square and a circle. Designers the world over admire the squircle because it gives us a lot of form exploration range. If I want a product to be perceived as stately or strong I might adjust the squircle more toward the square end of the spectrum. But, if I’m going for playful and approachable, I’d likely opt toward the circle end of the spectrum. Now keep in mind there are other factors that go into the equation of how a product is perceived such as CMF. If you want to see squircle in action hop over to 3Dconnexion and check out their SpaceMouse® Wireless.

I suppose the next question one might ask is, how do I replicate a squircle in CAD? What tool would I use? The answer, the conic tool! Every CAD package has its own version of the conic tool. The primary difference being how the geometry is constrained within the 2D sketch environment.

Discovering The Conic

Recently I was singing the praises of the conic to my Virginia Tech sophomore CAD class. I told them that perhaps more than any other sketch entity the conic offered quick design iteration power. As our discussion unfolded, I told them about the #46 @Renderweekly design challenge on Instagram. Prompt #46 was to design and model a silicone tray. I encouraged my students to enter the challenge as a way to practice using the conic tool inside of Fusion 360. Having issued the challenge, I thought I better get busy myself. The images in this post are the results of my @Skillcoach modeling effort.

Multiple concept variation accomplished simply by changing the rho value of the conic sketch section.
Screenshot from @renderweekly

Fusion Conic Behavior

Prior experience told me I would need to construct four individual conic entities to make a complete squircle section. So I set out to create the desired section. I found the conic tool to behave differently than expected in the following ways:

  • Placing dimensions on the end of the conic to control tangency was not possible (at least that I could find).
  • Tangency and symmetry can be accomplished by constructing a construction cage using a center point rectangle.
  • The Rho value is embedded in the conic. To edit it requires double-clicking on the conic entity.
  • The Rho value is not accessible through the parameter panel. Therefore, I could not create a parameter to change all four conics at the same time.

The squircle is achieved by combining four conic entities into one 2D Sketch section.
On the fly learning of Fusion 360 conic tool

I’m attaching a Skillcoach “Learn with Me” video so you can review my on-the-fly learning of the Fusion 360 conic tool behavior. Additional, Kevin Kennedy’s Product Design Online Youtube channel has an excellent explanation of the conic. Have a look as it is good stuff!

Until next time……….Keep on learning!

Author

Vince is Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Virginia Tech University. Vince has worked as Studio Engineer for consumer and medical product brands such as Whirlpool, Newell and ResMed Ltd. Australia. He's garnered 39+ patents and has designed everything from totes to toasters, and fiddles to furniture. He enjoys all things 3D and has carved out a niche as a Class-A Surfacing Guru. Active in both industry and academia, Vince serves as a Creative and Technical Skill Development Coach providing hands-on training and workshops pertaining to CAID/CAD. Vince relishes opportunities to keep learning and sharing what he's learned!