Surface of Revolution

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The sor object is a surface of revolution generated by rotating the graph of a function about the y-axis. This function describes the dependence of the radius from the position on the rotation axis.

The syntax is:

  sor {
    Number_Of_Points, <Point_1>, <Point_2>, ... <Point_n>
    [ open ] [SOR_MODIFIERS...]

SOR default values:

sturm : off

The float value Number_Of_Points specifies the number of 2-D vectors which follow. The points <Point_1> through <Point_n> are two-dimensional vectors consisting of the radius and the corresponding height, i.e. the position on the rotation axis. These points are smoothly connected (the curve is passing through the specified points) and rotated about the y-axis to form the SOR object. The first and last points are only used to determine the slopes of the function at the start and end point. They do not actually lie on the curve. The function used for the SOR object is similar to the splines used for the lathe object. The difference is that the SOR object is less flexible because it underlies the restrictions of any mathematical function, i.e. to any given point y on the rotation axis belongs at most one function value, i.e. one radius value. You cannot rotate closed curves with the SOR object. Also, make sure that the curve does not cross zero (y-axis) as this can result in 'less than perfect' bounding cylinders. POV-Ray will very likely fail to render large chunks of the part of the spline contained in such an interval.

The optional keyword open allows you to remove the caps on the SOR object. If you do this you should not use it with CSG because the results may be wrong.

The SOR object is useful for creating bottles, vases, and things like that. A simple vase could look like this:

#declare Vase = sor {
  <0.000000, 0.000000>
  <0.118143, 0.000000>
  <0.620253, 0.540084>
  <0.210970, 0.827004>
  <0.194093, 0.962025>
  <0.286920, 1.000000>
  <0.468354, 1.033755>

One might ask why there is any need for a SOR object if there is already a lathe object which is much more flexible. The reason is quite simple. The intersection test with a SOR object involves solving a cubic polynomial while the test with a lathe object requires to solve a 6th order polynomial (you need a cubic spline for the same smoothness). Since most SOR and lathe objects will have several segments this will make a great difference in speed. The roots of the 3rd order polynomial will also be more accurate and easier to find.

If additional accuracy is required you can add the sturm object modifier.

The following explanations are for the mathematically interested reader who wants to know how the surface of revolution is calculated. Though it is not necessary to read on it might help in understanding the SOR object.

The function that is rotated about the y-axis to get the final SOR object is given by:


Surface of Revolution Formula

with radius r and height h. Since this is a cubic function in h it has enough flexibility to allow smooth curves.

The curve itself is defined by a set of n points P(i), i=0...n-1, which are interpolated using one function for every segment of the curve. A segment j, j=1...n-3, goes from point P(j) to point P(j+1) and uses points P(j-1) and P(j+2) to determine the slopes at the endpoints. If there are n points we will have n-3 segments. This means that we need at least four points to get a proper curve. The coefficients A(j), B(j), C(j) and D(j) are calculated for every segment using the equation


Curve Math

Where r(j) is the radius and h(j) is the height of point P(j).

The figure below shows the configuration of the points P(i), the location of segment j, and the curve that is defined by this segment.


Points on a surface of revolution.

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