For most of us who have grown up with and seen the CAD industry evolve, it means experiencing CAD from a relatively narrow perspective, that is, a US perspective. As it turns out, the CAD development realm actually extends far beyond our shores, and is becoming more competitive over time. Some of the most noteworthy competitors are coming from Asia, notably China, and Russia.
Having had some experience with Chinese and Russian companies and associated CAD technologies, I feel that the Russians currently have the upper hand because their products seem more comprehensive, capable, contemporary, and consistent design tools.
One of the most interesting CAD tools I’ve come across is from Russia — ASCON’s KOMPAS-3D for associative 3D modeling. Models can be made from original designs, standard part libraries, or combination if the two. While that’s not especially unique, KOMPAS-3D’s parametric technology lets you generate ranges (different configurations) of products based on a single source model.
A distinguishing feature of KOMPAS-3D is that it uses its own modeling kernel and parametric system, both of which were developed at ASCON — something I have always considered an advantage over licensing components that form the basis of a CAD product.
The following video clip provides a brief overview of the KOMPAS 3D geometric modeling kernel:
What the video lacks in detail introduces the possibility that ASCON could become a power to be reckoned with in the future.
About this time last year ASCON Group made public its proprietary geometry kernel, C3D, as the foundation for creating CAD systems and applications.
Development of the C3D kernel began in 1995, and became the basis for ASCON’s KOMPAS-3D in 2000. The company continued to update the kernel, and last year launched it as a separate product for the CAD component market. It can handle several aspects of a CAD system, icluding 2D drawing and sketching, 3D hybrid and solid modeling, parametric constraints, and translation.
The main feature of ASCON kernel is that it is comprehensive. The core of C3D combines just about everything necessary for developing engineering application software with modules that include:
- C3D Modeler — the geometric modeler with functions for 3D solid and hybrid modeling, sketching, and 2D drawing.
- C3D Solver — the parametric constraints solver with functions for creating and solving parametric constraints on 2D and 3D geometry.
- C3D Converter — the translator module that reads and writes geometric models in all primary exchange formats.
Keep in mind, though, that the C3D kernel is not the only Russian kernel being developed there. There is also a Russian government-financed mandate to develop a “national” CAD engine, the Russian Geometry Kernel (RGK), a B-rep modeler that can create NURBS curves and surfaces. The RGK is being developed by Russian university mathematicians, and like the C3D modeler, it supports GPU acceleration and multi-threading.
The ultimate winner of the Russian kernel competition is anybody’s guess at this point, but ASCON seems to have a number of technical things in place to make it a real player in the worldwide CAD arena. To a large extent, because it’s in control of its base product components, it may have better control over its destiny in a competitive market.
So, it just might be true, “The Russians are coming.”