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Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »
MCADCafe e-Magazine: SpaceClaim Announces SpaceClaim Engineer 2012
March 27th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
SpaceClaim (www.spaceclaim.com), announced SpaceClaim Engineer 2012. This release introduces significant new capabilities in reverse engineering, model preparation for simulation, manufacturing, and data reuse. These new capabilities build on SpaceClaim’s accessibility, ease-of-use, and low total-cost-of-ownership, enabling even more engineers, designers, and analysts to complete their projects with SpaceClaim’s innovative 3D direct modeling technology.
The combination of ease-of-use and lower cost ensures that the total cost of ownership of SpaceClaim is less than 50% of the cost of traditional CAD products. With this release, SpaceClaim continues to expand into markets where its unique tools address previously unsolved problems and where SpaceClaim Engineer meets users’ complete CAD needs. SpaceClaim continues to penetrate markets where traditional CAD is the wrong product for basic engineering tasks, and where ease-of-use, interoperability, and maturity are required to enable engineers, designers, and machinists to work in 3D.
“Before SpaceClaim, it wasn’t possible for me to do my job in 3D,” said Steve Tyler, Owner, Austmarinetech. “We deal with so many design changes that it wasn’t worth the time, let alone the investment, to use feature-based CAD. With SpaceClaim, I can open 2D and 3D designs from suppliers, assemble them into a design, and make changes on the fly. The direct modeling interface gives me instant updates and lets me communicate with team members who don’t speak English. Overall, SpaceClaim has improved my process by a factor of two and made my life a lot easier.”
“SpaceClaim 2012 is a milestone release for the company. SpaceClaim is now by far the most mature of a new generation of 3D CAD products, and we’re now seeing SpaceClaim Engineer selected as a tool of choice for the complete design process, not just for discrete tasks,” said Chris Randles, SpaceClaim President and CEO. “Traditional parametric, feature-based tools have reached the limits of their market penetration, but there still exists a huge underserved market for 3D CAD. Most users still use 2D or 3D products with limited capabilities and poor interoperability. SpaceClaim is innovative, affordable, and accessible. It makes it as easy for any user to create, document, and share 3D designs as it is to use mainstream office productivity tools. What we are seeing is the democratization of 3D CAD.”
New capabilities in SpaceClaim 2012 include:
“SpaceClaim and Google SketchUp share a long-term vision of enabling everybody to work in 3D. SpaceClaim’s ability to turn SketchUp files into precise solids suitable for manufacturing — without remodeling — will enable mechanical SketchUp users to more quickly realize their vision, and help SpaceClaim users take advantage of the millions of models available in our 3D Warehouse,” said Tom Wyman, Business Development Manager for Google SketchUp.
SpaceClaim more than doubled its installed base in 2011 and continues to enable more users to be productive in 3D while adding value to manufacturer’s existing investments in CAD. SpaceClaim is being rapidly adopted by small-to-medium businesses as a dedicated CAD tool and by large organizations as an engineering tool complementary to long-standing production CAD deployments, thus broadening the use of 3D throughout the entire product development lifecycle.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
Founded in 2005, SpaceClaim Engineer 2012 is the ninth release of the company’s flagship 3D CAD tool. The company has never been shy about how it stacks up against and trumps the competition with regard to cost and ease of use and continues to tout those claims with this release. Founded or unfounded? We’ll see . . .
SpaceClaim’s customer base continues to expand with each release and includes several manufacturing heavy weights, including Bosch, Ford Motor Company, General Dynamics, GE Aviation, Toyota, and Volvo.
Interoperability has improved, but interestingly, (given their emphasis on direct modeling), no mention is made regarding interoperability with Solid Edge, known for its Synchronous Technology. Major? Maybe not, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
New curve cleanup tools are an important offshoot of interoperability and can be a real time saver for creating models from existing wireframes and drawings.
Manufacturing and sheet metal have come a long way in SpaceClaim Engineer, probably owing in big part to the company’s relationship with TRUMPF, a big player in sheet metal fabrication machinery and industrial lasers.
One of the most interesting recent aspects of SpaceClaim is its partnership with Geomagic. The relationship could very well make SpaceClaim a real player in reverse engineering and working with meshes. Some of this new technology will be supplied by Geomagic, but a lot will also be homegrown by SpaceClaim.
SpaceClaim has had a free viewer for some time, but it is now available as a Windows shell extension so you can now display SpaceClaim models in Windows Explorer. Pretty imaginative using something that exists on every Windows users’ desktop, and the price is right, too.
Claiming that it is the most comprehensive JT editor on the market today is quite a statement. I wonder what Siemens PLM Software has to say about that?
Also, SpaceClaim positions direct modeling as its product, and not just a feature or capability. SpaceClaim is betting the farm on this one, because direct modeling is all they do.
Targeted at the traditional CAD non-user, SpaceClaim uses ACIS as its underlying geometric modeling kernel. One of the main focuses of the 3D modeling tool has been to make it as intuitive as possible for users new to CAD or those who had experienced difficulties with it in the past, meaning that it is “design oriented,” and not necessarily “operator oriented.”
Now for the million-dollar question, “Will SpaceClaim continue to succeed where others have also succeeded, but also where many have failed?” That’s still really a loaded question for a number of different reasons. I would have to say, however, that while the odds might still be against it, based on the personnel and products coming out of the company, their collective track record betters those odds in their favor. SpaceClaim also appeals to the non-traditional CAD user, which is a good thing.
While I have been somewhat skeptical about SpaceClaim’s long-term prospects, I have tracked SpaceClaim and its products and have seen how they have fared favorably in specific parts of the MCAD marketplace. As with any vendor in the MCAD space, we continue to wish them well — the more, the merrier.
Is SpaceClaim Engineer 2012 as intuitive and easy to use as the company insists? I’m not going to touch that one until I have some personal hands-on experience with it; however, there are several aspects that continue to make it look promising.
I’ll download, try it for myself, and report back.
The Week’s Top 5
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.
For the past 30 years, the ability of engineers to perform Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations of the interaction between multiple moving objects has been severely curtailed by the need to generate an interconnected mesh between the objects. Not only did this requirement make the creation of “moving mesh” simulations an intensive manual process, it also often rendered it impossible in the case of objects with extreme ranges of motion or with very close interaction. STAR-CCM+ v7.02 changes this with the introduction of a new Overset Meshing capability. Overset Meshing (sometimes called “overlapping” or “chimera” meshing), allows the user to generate an individual mesh around each moving object which then can be moved at will over a background mesh. The Overset Meshing capability is fully compatible with the full range of unstructured meshing options in STAR-CCM+. With no need to worry about interconnecting meshes or cell distortion, Overset Meshing brings genuine moving object simulation within the grasp of all engineers. Overset Meshing can also be used for parametric studies, steady or unsteady simulations, providing an easy way to reposition or replace objects in order to study multiple design configurations.
Autodesk has named Green Structures as the Autodesk Inventor of the Year for 2011 for developing the Ventive energy-efficiency system that is ideal for building retrofits. Green Structures uses Autodesk Inventor software and a range of other Autodesk Digital Prototyping solutions to transform the way energy systems are planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated within the built environment. As a member of the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program — an initiative that provides Autodesk Digital Prototyping software to emerging and established clean tech companies — Green Structures is an innovator in passive heat recovery ventilation and thermal energy storage systems. The firm’s Ventive heat recovery ventilation system works with existing chimneys to channel air and heat. This system contrasts with current mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems, which require that complex ductwork be installed throughout an entire building. Ventive can be installed in less than 30 minutes, providing a far faster and less expensive alternative for retrofitting buildings with the latest green technologies. Green Structures relies on Autodesk Inventor, as well as Autodesk Ecotect Analysis software, Autodesk Simulation Multiphysics software, and Autodesk Revit Architecture software in its product design and development. Green Structures accelerated the prototyping process for its Ventive heat recovery ventilation system using Autodesk Simulation software to digitally simulate wind tunnel tests and perform heat transfer analysis, saving on physical testing costs of approximately $1,550 (£1,000) per day.
Research and Markets announced the addition of the “3D Computer-aided Design Market in APAC 2010-2014” report to their offering. TechNavio’s analysts forecast the 3D CAD market in the APAC region to grow at a CAGR of 21 percent over the period 2010-2014. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the need for extended product visualization for better product quality in the APAC region. The 3D CAD market in APAC region has also been witnessing aggressive marketing by CAD vendors. However, increased training costs have decreased investment in CAD software, which could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. Key vendors dominating this market space include Dassault Systmes SA, Autodesk Inc., Siemens PLM, and Parametric Technology Corp. TechNavio’s report highlights that after the impact of the global economic recession, there has been a steady increase in the economy of the Asian countries such as India and China. Further, due the threat of natural calamities such as earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, several production facilities are being shifted from Japan to other countries in the Asian region such as India, China, and Singapore. With a number of low-cost manufacturing and designing facilities companies emerging in this region, there is an increase in investment for both the domestic and international market, in these countries. Key findings from the report include Increased Outsourcing and Investments in the Automotive Sector, Increased Training Costs, Decreased Investment Towards CAD Software, and Increasing Competition Leading to Reduced Cost of Licenses.
Luxion, a developer of advanced rendering and lighting technology and makers of KeyShot, a real time ray tracing and global illumination program, released KeyShot 3.1 and with it real-time environment editing and other features. Keyshot 3.1 marks the first major update of the release that introduced a patent-pending animation system, a revamped user interface, and over 600+ new materials. With this update we introduce time-saving new features and improvements including a new, unique metallic paint material, interactive HDR editing that allows real-time editing of the lighting environments, material templates that allow 3D professionals to ‘auto-paint’ their models, and network rendering to queue render jobs and spread them across multiple computers. KeyShot 3.1 is available at www.keyshot.com.
Pointwise announced the latest release of its Pointwise computational fluid dynamics (CFD) meshing software. This update includes an advanced implementation of the T-Rex hybrid meshing technique for viscous flows and native readers for CAD files. Pointwise’s T-Rex technique (anisotropic tetrahedral extrusion) is a highly-automated method for generating a hybrid mesh suitable for resolving boundary layers, wakes and other features of a viscous flowfield. T-Rex extrudes layers of high-quality tetrahedra (with included right angles), avoids collisions with layers extruding from adjacent geometry, and optionally combines the layered tets into prisms. The implementation in Pointwise automatically ensures consistency of the volume mesh with the adjacent surface meshes, something which previously had to be managed manually. This new Pointwise release also includes the ability to read geometry data from native CAD formats including ACIS, CATIA V4, CATIA V5, NX, Parasolid, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, and STEP. Importing directly from a native format bypasses the requirement to produce an IGES file and avoids the possible errors introduced by translating to an intermediate format. The readers, bundled into Pointwise, operate without a license of the CAD software. Also included in Pointwise Version 17 are the ability to group entities for ease in selection and manipulation, the ability to easily re-extrude grids generated with the software’s traditional style extrusion methods, the option to restrict application of grid algorithms to a portion of the overall grid using subgrids, and updated exporters for several CAE formats.
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