Calling all composite fabricators:

3D CAD to 2D flat patterns

accurate and ready to cut in minutes

Import from 3D CAD

Import your 3D CAD model. If you can model it, Composite Flat can flatten it.

Flatten Surfaces of Any Complexity

Flatten developable and non-developable curved surfaces to produce accurate 2D flat patterns.

Create 2D Files for Cutting

Flattened 2D patterns can be exported in DXF format for cutting or importing into 2D CAD programs.

Introducing Composite Flat

Software for 3D to 2D flattening of double curved surfaces.  Composite Flat uses the warp, weft, weave, surface shape, material stretch, and 7 different FE algorithms including “de-wrinkle”, and “smooth” to create accurate patterns. 

Click to watch intro video (2 min 21 seconds)

Why is 3D to 2D flattening complex?

There are several reasons.  For example: 

Material complexity

  • Material warp, weft, weave; and
  • Stretch (Young’s modulus, poisson ratio).

3D model complexity

  • Material strain and sag based on geometry;
  • Material can be single or multiply; 
  • Uni or multi-directional in orientation; 
  • With uniform or variable fabric tow spacing.

Surface complexity, adds even more difficulty

  • Class A surfaces, or G3 surfaces;
  • Surfaces with a non zero Gaussian constraint, commonly referred to as non-developable or double curvature; or
  • Surfaces with edges that mate to adjacent edges. 

Pattern making complexity 

  • If darts or relief cuts are needed, they may need to be staggered by ply; 
  • When pieces are placed in a tool, tow spacing may change. 

What are the steps to flatten from 3D to 2D?

What do real users say?

“We looked at many options and found there were about a dozen different products to choose from.  They ranged in price from free options that were included in 3D CAD programs to expensive options in the $50,000 plus range.

We did not want a big process changes or a long install and ramp up. The most important thing is it had to be able to produce an accurate 2D pattern from any 3D design, no matter how complex.  

This was a problem. Many products we tried failed. They’d work on easier designs, and fail on complex shapes. They were too unreliable for us to trust.

Composite Flat was different. We got great results consistently and reliably.  Even non-developable surfaces with double curvature could be flattened accurately.  It has now become our standard tool for surface unwrapping and flattening.

 Anyone involved in pattern engineering knows that it is complicated work. To get a good fit, means your 3D design has to be right, your edge locations have to be right, you may have to put in relief cuts or darts, and you need to line up your pattern pieces just right for placement in the tool… 

There is no magic bullet in this line of work.

With Composite Flat we can assign material characteristics to different pattern pieces. When the optimizer runs it takes into account the material types. Also, we can fine tune the final patterns by modifying the local or global target strain in desired directions. This helps us take out unwanted sag. Also, adding  darts or relief cuts is easy.

We were an early beta user and love this product. The simple reason is, you can create patterns faster, sometimes in minutes, and they will fit. 

Pattern Engineering and Tool Fabrication Specialist
Name withheld
Interview conducted Feb 12, 2019

To request a demo, complete the form below.

Composite Flat FAQ

Composite Flat is a plugin for Rhino 3D.  Any 3D file format supported by Rhino’s open/import capabilities is compatible.  For more information please click here on supported open/import types.

  1. Prepare 3D model for flattening. (add cut lines, relief cuts, darts and create clean mesh)
  2. Flatten surfaces. (pre-flatten, remove wrinkles)
  3. Optimize 2D pattern fit (assign material, eliminate strain and sag, check accuracy)
  4. Add 2D features (alignment notches, grain lines, edge allowances for overlaps.)
  5. Create 2D output (DXF) for cutters, finishing in 2D CAD, and nesting.


For uni-directional plys, you assign a uniform grain edge to each pattern piece, then flatten different offset layers. 

For cross-plied quasi-isotropic plys, you assign a grain edge at the required ply orientation, then flatten the different offset layers. 

  • Single ply
  • Laminates
  • Sandwich panels

When creating multiple lamina, or symmetric laminates, you can offset the source object or mesh using the Rhino 3D offset commands.

When specifying a ply orientation, you can use the Composite Flat EF Grain command to assign a grain edge and ply orientation.

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