moi_howto.pngWhen you look out over the wall surrounding the meat and cheese paradise that is sketch-driven, history-based solid modeling, you’ll notice the rolling hills of free-form 3D modeling.

It’s a wonderfully surreal place to escape to every once in a while, especially if you need to work in some unusual 3d formats or create something a little more abstract.

Crispy and Clean
MoI (Moment of Inspiration) came on the scene around August 2007. I’ve been fiddling with the beta release here and there and noticed last week that Deelip crashed the MoI launch party for version 1.0.

What’s it like?
It’s really intuitive. For me, it’s like shaping Styrofoam, without the mess. That might sound weird, but it provides just enough precision with the ability to shape what you want. If you wanted a comparison, it’s right in between SketchUp and Rhino. It actually uses the Rhino openNURBS file format (.3dm) so obviously, it’s interoperable between the two, plus you can open that format directly in SolidWorks.

In ease of use, it stands on its own
Developer, Michael Gibson, actually created Rhino, so you’ll see similarities, but MoI is a lot easier to get started with. I’d try this if you’ve ever been interested in trying a free-form modeler but apprehensive. He developed it from the standpoint of ease of use for pen tablet users. However, it’s easy even with a mouse. You can use the keyboard to enter values if you like, but every command can be done with the left mouse button.

What’s extra special is how good it looks and how fast it runs on the foulest graphically-challenged of computers, like my 2001 Compaq Presario laptop. Additionally, the beta is still free to download, but the price for Version 1.0 is a mere $195. You can’t buy conversion software for that cheap.

If you want to see how it works, there are some very nice video tutorials that give a quick overview. I created the below model in just over 5 minutes. Fun stuff.



Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.