Interactive Drape


Interactive Drape© is a free software tool enabling investigation of how woven materials form to complex shapes. This software is aimed primarily at manufacturers in the fibre reinforced composites industry but has found applications in various other fabric related industries.

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Woven fabric materials can deform to fit complex 3D shapes without wrinkling. However, there are geometric limitations! In addition complex shapes require a unique sequence of operations that is not necessarily intuitive. Interactive Drape© is a highly interactive software tool which enables virtual forming of materials and is specifically designed to allow manufacturers the ability to investigate producibility during the optimisation and the geometric design of products.

Whilst there are other drape simulation tools that can be used to make draping predictions and generate flat patterns, they all rely on algorithms which make simplistic assumptions about the draping sequence. Any deviation from this automatically generated sequence during the lay-up and the pre-cut ply won’t match the tool when formed. Although this may work for simple shapes, complex shapes will require that the component be divided into separate drapable sections prior to the simulation.

Interactive Drape is different

It represents the material as a complete ply and mimics the operator’s hands with the mouse enabling virtual interactive draping, cutting and trimming as it would be done on the shop floor, extending the simulation to match the limitations of real lay-up. This results in shorter design and development cycles while also reducing material waste.

Virtual interactive manufacturing such as this, can also generate detailed manufacturing instructions during design that represent not only the design intent but also the intended manufacturing sequence. Interactive Drape is aimed at both designers and manufacturers and no finite element analysis software or expertise is necessary.


  • Design the part by forming the material virtually before you make any tooling or cut any materials.
  • The interactive interface allows operations on individual pieces of material or on an entire stack of plies.
  • Assess the producibility of your geometric design within seconds!
  • Generate flat pattern templates and forming / production instructions.
  • Instruct manufacture through graphical representation of the forming operation.

How does it work?

Import a surface from a CAD file, select a new ply and place it on the surface using the mouse. You can then rotate it dynamically using the scroll wheel. To drape, simply smooth it onto the surface using the cursor with deformation shown in the colour scale. No meshing, no initial settings, just drape the way you would in reality.

  • Reads .stl output from any CAD program
  • No special meshing or FEA capabilities are required
  • Allows simultaneous forming of multiple plies
  • Ultra simple user interface mimics the real lay-up environment
  • Drag and manipulate plies on the surface only with the mouse
  • Form and lift the ply for fast trial-and-error forming
  • Real time lay-up design guidance
  • Learn the the limitations of real lay-up
  • Check where wrinkles may form
  • Capture the virtual lay-up operation as instructions


Checkout these screencasts showing Interactive Drape’s core functionality.

Typical Fields of Use

  • Fibre reinforced composites structures with complex shapes
  • Clothing and apparel design
  • 3D graphics for woven materials

System Requirements

  • Interactive drape runs on almost all Windows 32bit and 64bit operating systems from Windows XP onward.
  • We do not provide a Mac version but Interactive Drape will run on a virtual machine with OpenGL correctly configured.
  • Interactive drape requires OpenGL.