Jeff's MCAD Blogging
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 »
May 21st, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
ASCON Group, developer and integrator of professional MCAD and PLM solutions, announced that it is making public its proprietary geometry kernel C3D as the foundation for creating computer-aided design systems and applications. The kernel is also well suited for designing computer-aided engineering (CAE) software, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs for CNC machines, and modeling of engineering processes for product lifecycle management (PLM).
Development of the geometric kernel began in 1995, and then in 2000 ASCON released KOMPAS-3D v5.9, the first computer-aided design software system based on its C3D. Since then, the company has updated the kernel, and is now launching it as a separate product for the CAD component market. It handles all aspects of a CAD system: 2D drawing and sketching, 3D hybrid and solid modeling, parametric constraints, and translation.
“The decision to open access to our technology was the next logical step in our on-going development of the geometric kernel,” said Maxim Bogdanov, CEO of ASCON. “We are confident in the quality of C3D. For more than a decade, it has been the basis of our own line of successful CAD/CAM software.
“We see great prospects for its use, as new players appear on the market needing components for their CAD systems,” he added. “Standard 2D systems will inevitably switch to 3D, and consequently require a fundamental change to the core of the systems — or else find a replacement. The CAD component market is changing, and so there is a place for a Russian company with 17 years experience in geometric kernel development, and whose mathematical quality is recognized throughout the world.”
The main feature of ASCON kernel is that it is complete. The core of C3D combines everything necessary for the development of application solutions, as follows:
C3D Modeler is the geometric modeler with functions for 3D solid and hybrid modeling, sketching, and 2D drawing
C3D Solver is the parametric constraints solver with functions for creating and solving parametric constraints on 2D and 3D geometry
C3D Converter is the translator module that reads and writes geometric models in all primary exchange formats
Potential users for the C3D kernel are developers of CAD, CAM, and CAE systems and related applications requiring the processing of 3D models and 2D graphics. Among them are large industrial companies who often create software for internal use. Third-party developers can use the ASCON kernel to extend functions and abilities, increase performance and reliability, quickly create 3D modelers based on existing 2D systems, and reduce cost of development of their products.
Even before C3D was released officially, an early tester was already putting it to real-world use. “We were among the first to work with ASCON’s geometric modeling kernel,” explained Andrew Lovygin, CEO of LO CNITI and the official distributor of Esprit CAM in Russia. “In just four months, we embedded a full 3D solid modeler in our CAM system. Our choice of C3D was driven by ASCON’s flexible pricing policy and quality technical support. I am confident that ASCON will achieve excellent results with its kernel on the international market.”
C3D was first announced in April at the Congress On the Future of Engineering Software (COFES). C3D kernel is available now for limited licensing based on individual requests. Full access will be opened in January, 2013.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
When you think of geometric modeling kernels, does anything immediately come to mind? For most of us who have been long enough, the ones probably at the forefront are ACIS and CGM (owned by Spatial Corp., a part of Dassault Systemes) and Parasolid (owned by Siemens PLM Software). Now, though, ASCON has entered the arena.
There was a time when geometric modeling kernels were the keystones of the MCAD industry. Most CAD vendors then relied, at least to some degree, and licensed them as engines for making their software applications go. While newly developed and released kernels were a good thing, some CAD developers felt that they were held hostage by the release cycles of their geometric kernel developers.
Wohlers Report 2012 Report: An Excellent Source for Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Information
May 15th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Wohlers Associates just published Wohlers Report 2012, an in-depth analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. This new edition marks the 17th consecutive year of its publication. I can attest that the Report is the most thorough and comprehensive document of its kind.
Wohlers Report 2012 covers all aspects of additive manufacturing, including its history, applications, processes, manufacturers, and materials. It documents pertinent developments in the past year, covers R&D and collaboration activities in government, academia, and industry, and summarizes the state of the industry in countries around the world. It also tracks the extraordinary growth of personal 3D printers—machines priced under $5,000, with the majority in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.
The information is used to track industry growth, provide views and perspective, uncover trends, and offer insight into the future of additive manufacturing. “The 2012 edition is the most ambitious effort in the report’s history,” said Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates and a principal author of the new report. Major new parts on applications, materials and processes, and front- and back-end considerations were added. The final part of the report concludes withtrends that are expected to shape the future of the technology and industry.
Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Additive manufacturing is used to build physical models, prototypes, patterns, tooling components, and production parts in plastic, metal, and composite materials. AM systems use thin, horizontal cross sections from computer-aided design (CAD) models, 3D-scanning systems, medical scanners, and video games to produce parts that can be difficult or impossible to produce any other way.
The report sells for $495 worldwide and is available in PDF form. The report’s table of contents, as well as additional information on the market and industry, are available at wohlersassociates.com.
I’ve known Terry Wohlers for many years and consider Wohlers Report THE source of timely and comprehensive information for additive manufacturing. I don’t recommend many books, but highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to get accurate in-depth information on AM.
May 8th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Dassault Systèmes announced its intent to acquire geological modeling and simulation company Gemcom Software International (Gemcom) for approximately US$360 million. Privately-held Gemcom is the world leader in mining industry software solutions, headquartered in Vancouver.
“With the acquisition of Gemcom, coupled with our 3D Experience platform capabilities, our objective is to model and simulate our planet, improving predictability, efficiency, safety and sustainability within the Natural Resources industry and beyond,” said Bernard Charlès, President and CEO, Dassault Systèmes. “To support this ambitious goal, we have created a new brand, GEOVIA. Raw material provisioning and long term resource availability is a major concern for society. Today’s announcement is a significant step towards fulfilling our purpose of providing 3D experiences for imagining sustainable innovations to harmonize products, nature and life.”
May 3rd, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
I recently read some encouraging news from CIMdata contained in its soon-to-be-published Version 21 of the CIMdata NC Market Analysis Report. They estimate, that based on end-user payments, the worldwide NC software and related services market grew by 14.4% in 2011. The estimated end-user payments grew from $1.333 billion in 2010 to $1.525 billion in 2011. The market growth rate in 2011 reflects strong overall PLM spending, continuing the recovery from the downturn in the global economy that manifested itself in dramatically higher machine tool sales into the manufacturing industry. Estimates are that worldwide shipments of machine tools increased by 35% from 2010 to 2011, which is directly related to the volume of CAM software employed to drive these tools. CIMdata projects that in 2012 growth in manufacturing will continue and end-user payments for NC software will increase by 12.4% to $1.714 billion.
Since 2002, the NC software market has shown modest but steady growth as global economies generally improved. There has been worldwide growth in the sale of machine tools and manufacturing output; greater emphasis has been placed on the efficient operation of machine tools as manufacturing firms have strengthened their competitive positions, and the overall PLM market, of which CAM software is a component, has continued on a strong growth path during this period. CAM software purchases are related to all of these factors—particularly machine tool sales.
Alan Christman, CIMdata’s Chairman and author of the NC Market Analysis Report said, “2011 was an excellent year for manufacturers and most providers of NC software. Most firms saw good growth in 2011, and CIMdata expects this growth to continue in 2012 and beyond. The continued strength and growing importance of global manufacturing powers like China and other emerging economies should result in increased investment in advanced technologies like CAD, CAM, and other segments of the overall PLM market. We have seen moves documented in the popular press to bring manufacturing back to the US, which will require still more investment in advanced manufacturing technologies to be competitive with economies with lower labor costs. The next few years should continue to be strong for NC and the broader PLM market.”
This is good news for not only the NC software market, because since 2009, when all engineering/technical software sales sucked, most manufacturing software sectors are today experiencing and enjoying a resurgence in sales. So, is engineering software for manufacturing really emerging from the depths of despair of just a couple of years ago? I’d have to say, yes. Not only are sales stronger, but a number of software vendors have socked enough cash away to make a number of notable acquisitions, making them stronger. Sales aren’t like the “old days” yet, but indicators are definitely moving in a positive direction.
May 3rd, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Trimble, a company historically focused on applications requiring position or location, including surveying, asset management, and mapping is acquiring SketchUp from Google, a widely used drawing package for creating simple 3D models. It’s so popular, in fact, that Google says SketchUp had 30,000,000 activations in the last year alone. While SketchUp is targeted more toward architectural design and model buildings for Google Earth, I’ve used it for years as the name implies – for sketching. Mostly for diagrams and concepts, but sketches, nonetheless.
However, there is the SketchUp 3D Warehouse that contains a lot of user-created collections of 3D objects, such as office furniture, people, and buildings.
Google acquired SketchUp from @Last Software in 2006. At the time, SketchUp users feared the worst, but Google did a good job continually improving it and supporting the 3D Warehouse.
Can the same be said for Trimble with regard to a continuing commitment? That, of course, remains to be seen, but see it become a bigger part of Trimble’s positioning technologies, especially for construction and mapping purposes.
For my part, I use SketchUp in a limited way for MCAD-related purposes that it wasn’t really intended for and will probably continue to do so.
April 23rd, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
PTC announced Creo 2.0, the latest release of its revolutionary new generation of product design software. Last June, PTC challenged the industry paradigm with the introduction of the first nine “apps” in its Creo family – conceived, in part, to enable a much wider range of roles to contribute to the design process with a set of integrated, purpose-built tools. With Creo 2.0, PTC introduces a new role-specific app supporting modular product design that extends how organizations can approach concept design, and delivers significant productivity enhancements to its existing Creo apps.
“The release of Creo 2.0 demonstrates PTC’s unwavering commitment to deliver against our Creo strategy and solve the chronic challenges customers face with traditional CAD tools,” said Michael Campbell, divisional general manager MCAD segment, PTC. “Built on PTC’s heritage of innovation, Creo rethinks the very nature of product design, increasing collaboration and protecting data fidelity across any user role, any design mode, or any data source. Today, PTC is also delivering the first technology component in its vision for managing modular product designs driven by the bill of materials.”
Modular Product Design
With Creo 2.0, PTC introduces a 10th app to the Creo family – Creo Options Modeler™ – a new role-specific app built for designers who need to create or validate modular product designs in 3D early in a design cycle. The new app, available this summer, delivers a dedicated, easy-to-use, powerful set of capabilities to build accurate, up-to-date, precise 3D-based product assemblies, irrespective of size or complexity. When used with Creo Parametric™, Creo Options Modeler enables teams to validate precise mass, center of gravity, and even check and resolve critical issues like interference for modular designs.
Creo Options Modeler contributes to PTC’s AnyBOM™ Assembly technology vision, which promises to give teams the power and scalability needed to create, validate and reuse information for modular product architectures. By combining Creo Options Modeler with PTC’s Windchill product lifecycle management software, manufacturers can generate and validate precise 3D representations of product configurations defined by an individual bill of materials.
By enabling easier reuse of existing 3D models and through innovative interface tagging, the new app can reduce process errors and engineering rework. As a member of the Creo product family, Creo Options Modeler also seamlessly leverages and shares data between other Creo apps, and with other people involved in the design process and beyond, further increasing detailed design and downstream process productivity.
Rethinking Concept Design
Many companies prefer to start concept designs in 2D to quickly explore multiple options before moving to build more complex 3D models. With Creo 2.0, PTC delivers on its vision for enabling companies to make the most of this early stage of their product development process. The new releases of Creo Parametric, Creo Direct™, the free Creo Sketch™ (now available on Mac OS X with this release), and Creo Layout™ combine to greatly enhance collaboration, innovation and design exploration during concept design. Since all Creo apps share a common data model, 2D geometry and design data can be easily shared by all users and apps and can be re-used later in the design process to accelerate the transition to the detailed design phase.
In Creo Layout 2.0, PTC is helping to solve the specific problem of transitioning from 2D to 3D, allowing users to easily create a layout of complex assemblies, quickly explore design alternatives, import a variety of 2D CAD file types, sketch and modify 2D geometry, organize information with groups, tags and structure as well as dimensions, notes and tables. Once created, a 2D design in Creo Layout can serve as the basis for 3D models, allowing users to create assemblies in 2D or reference 2D geometry to create part features, and any changes made in 2D are reflected in 3D upon regeneration.
In the new release, PTC delivers more than 490 enhancements to the Creo app family, all designed to optimize the user experience and increase design productivity.
Creo Parametric enables increased productivity and streamlining of the overall product design process with:
Overall, Creo Parametric delivers state-of-the-art user experience, new capabilities, automates common tasks, improves performance with streamlined workflows and enables dramatically improved overall design productivity.
Beyond Creo Parametric, PTC delivers significant enhancements to other Creo apps. New capabilities in Creo Direct help accelerate bid-proposals and early concept design. Casual users can now quickly and easily create new compelling 3D designs. They also can easily modify models by reference to existing geometry of available parts and assemblies or quickly, but precisely place multiple parts and assemblies into position with the new intelligent snapping capabilities.
And as Creo Direct seamlessly works with Creo Parametric and other Creo apps, any 3D design can be shared by users across the enterprise design process.
In addition, this latest release greatly simplifies the installation process for Creo, only downloading and installing the Creo apps specific to a customer’s environment and license entitlement. This speeds download and significantly simplifies installation and configuration enabling teams to get up and running with Creo more quickly than ever before.
More information will be shared at PTC’s upcoming annual user event, PlanetPTC Live.
Creo Options Modeler is available for purchase today as an extension of Creo Parametric. It is expected to be available as a stand-alone app in June 2012. All other Creo 2.0 apps are available now. Active maintenance customers can download the release from the software downloads page on www.ptc.com.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
What seemed a mysterious and curious MCAD technology announcement almost two years ago called Project Lightning has become a reality known as Creo. Now in its second major release, from the beginning, PTC heralded it as a “revolutionary” technology set that would influence CAD for decades. Has that happened? Well, that still remains to be seen.
April 19th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
The 3D printing merger/acquisition train rolls on with Stratasys and Objet coming together as one. This is a biggie for the 3D production sector because the combined company could be valued at as much as $1.4 Billion.
This is a good move for each of the companies because the technologies and markets for the respective companies are different. Pubicly traded Stratasys is a leading manufacturer of 3D printers and production systems for prototyping and manufacturing applications, whereas privately held Objet Ltd. is a leading manufacturer of 3D printers for rapid prototyping.
The transaction will position the combined company as the leader within the high-growth 3D printing and direct digital manufacturing industry.
The combined company will retain the Stratasys name and operate under the name
Some of the strategic and financial benefits of the transaction will include:
So, what’s not to like about this merger? For one, industry consolidation, while a fact of life, is not always a good thing with fewer choices and competitors. At the rate things are going, we may eventually be down to Stratasys and 3D Systems as about the only major players standing. Also, while the CEOs of both companies seem pleased with the announcment, corporate cultures don’t always merge quite so smoothly and can tend to clash.
However, that said, this is a big deal, and it will be interesting to see how this deal influences the rest of the 3D printing/rapid prototyping/rapid manufacturing industry.
April 9th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Autodesk, Inc. unveiled its new 3D design and engineering software portfolio for manufacturers, offering a complete set of integrated and interoperable suites and cloud services to simplify design, visualization and simulation workflows from product development through delivery.
The new Autodesk design suites are geared especially for manufacturers and include Autodesk Product Design Suite and Autodesk Factory Design Suite. The new suites provide a broad range of cloud services to help manufacturers more efficiently design, build and deliver better products faster and at reduced costs. The new Autodesk Simulation family of products delivers a faster, more accurate and flexible approach to predicting, optimizing and validating designs earlier in the design process.
“Autodesk’s 2013 portfolio provides our customers with a faster path to ROI for product development and delivery,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Design, Lifecycle and Simulation at Autodesk. “Our 2013 suites and scalable cloud services help manufacturers improve productivity and minimize upfront investment.”
Autodesk Design Suites Enhance Interoperability, Collaboration
Autodesk suites provide comprehensive workflows to connect desktops to mobile devices and to the cloud. These workflows enable manufacturing customers to develop complete definitions of product designs; integrate electrical and mechanical design to increase productivity; predict product performance; and visualize designs or complete factory layouts in 3D.
Autodesk’s 2013 design suites integrate with Autodesk 360 cloud offerings to better enable collaboration. Cloud-based assets promote design sharing and reuse. The suites also offer interoperability with the new 2013 version of Autodesk Vault product data management software and the company’s next generation, cloud-based alternative Autodesk PLM 360. Autodesk Vault software enables workgroups to organize, manage and track their engineering CAD data, manufacturing bills-of-material and change processes from a centralized location.
The 2013 Autodesk Product Design and Factory Design suites are available in three cost-effective, convenient editions: Standard, Premium and Ultimate.
Autodesk Product Design Suite Completes the Entire Engineering Process
Delivering a comprehensive software solution, the Autodesk Product Design Suite enables design, visualization and simulation capabilities, helping to drive innovation with integrated, discipline-specific tools and workflows built for Digital Prototyping.
New for Autodesk Product Design Suite 2013 are the addition of one-click workflows created to help customers seamlessly move through the engineering design process, advanced cloud-based services for simulation and the inclusion of additional software allowing customers to realize their end-to-end design process. Autodesk Product Design Suite 2013 updates include:
“The Autodesk Product Design Suite has been an invaluable tool for Sunkist Research and a big part of our success, from generating animations in Autodesk 3ds Max Design, to overlaying a 3D model in a real-time factory environment to actual engineering design and 3D modeling with the Autodesk Inventor suite,” said Alex Paradiang, director of engineering, Sunkist Research. “We have showcased our engineering talents with Autodesk software and displayed to our customers that we are constantly looking for the best solutions to help maintain our lead in the citrus industry.”
April 5th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Regardless of the weather, San Francisco is a great city on many different levels and I just returned from an event there with a wide variety of weather. The city just hosted the annual event that Autodesk uses to present and demo its next-generation products for all of the industries it serves — MCAD, AEC, Civil, Games/Entertainment, etc. — known as the Autodesk Media Summit. It was two days, but my favorite part of the event was when the new products were discussed and actually shown.
Throughout the event, Autodesk had a lot to say about a lot of new products, technologies in the works, and trends. We heard a number of interesting things from several Autodesk executives on many topics, ranging from cloud and mobile technology initiatives to the DIY movement. The cloud was touted throughout the presentations as the enabler for democratizing design and technology. This point got a little tired after being repeated several times by different presenters, but the point was well taken, nonetheless.
The various industry product suites were introduced and Autodesk stressed the integration of workflows with the products that comprise the various product suites. Autodesk also pointed out that it has made a real effort to make suite more cohesive so that they lok, feel, and behave in a similar manner. On the MCAD side, although Inventor and AutoCAD got their due, it was PLM 360 that was the center of attention and the star of the show. Buzz Kross also said that PLM should and will apply to more than mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing. In other words, don’t be too surprised to see it move to other industries, such as AEC, civil/infrastructure, and others.
I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what was covered at the Autodesk Media Summit 2012, but will provide comprehensive coverage of the event in the next MCADCafe Weekly e-Magazine that will be published and available on April 9, 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.