July 25, 2005
Alibre Ends Free 3D CAD Software Identity Mystery With Alibre Design Xpress
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Alibre, Inc. announced that it is the company behind the X-CAD promotion launched in late May at the Web site
www.x-cad.net. The company also announced that the new software, originally announced as X-CAD as part a 100,000 seat giveaway contest, will be named Alibre Design Xpress when it ships -- if 100,000 people have registered. The contest goal of 100,000 registrations appears likely: over 94,000 have registered to date and the registration rate is increasing.

Alibre Design Xpress, originally announced as X-CAD, is not demo or trial software. The product will provide 3D parametric solid modeling for mechanical design and manufacturing applications and includes functionality to design parts and assemblies, as well as create associative 2D drawings -- all at no charge.

Last week, a few X-CAD registrants were treated to a sneak peak at the new software.

"Being new to the CAD world, I didn't really know what to expect, but I found Alibre Design Xpress to be very easy to pick up and use," said Jonathan Morley, new 3D user. "I also found the included tutorials to be extremely helpful in learning the basics of the system; sketching, part modeling, assemblies -- they're all there."

"The amazing fact about this software is speed. It is both speedy to learn and speedy to use," says Mike Rehmus, Editor of Model Engine Builder magazine. "The included tutorials will have you making models in no time."

"Alibre Design Xpress is very similar to other 3D solid modelers on the market, so similar in fact that you should be up and running in no time," said Mike Hudspeth, a CAD industry analyst. "The familiar interface and work flow will mean instant productivity. I like the simple way you can dimension your sketches in this fully parametric modeler."

"The response to the X-CAD contest is beyond our expectations," said Greg Milliken, CEO of Alibre. "We set the goal high and weren't really sure how the industry would react, but 93,000+ registrations in less than two months speaks for itself. While our primary target for Alibre Design Xpress is the large number of 2D users who simply aren't going to move to an expensive and complex 3D solution, we have also had registrants from virtually every Fortune 500 company."

Given the response to date, Alibre expects Alibre Design Xpress to have a dramatic impact on the 3D mechanical CAD market. Rather than emphasizing the "conversion" to 3D, Alibre is focusing on rapidly increasing the adoption of 3D, viewing the technology as just another tool at the users' disposal, along with 2D CAD, spreadsheets, word processors and so on. In the process the company intends to foster an open, global community of users who together will advance and spread the usage of 3D.

Milliken continued, "Alibre Design Xpress is really the culmination of a long-term vision: to make 3D accessible to everyone, not just those willing to pay thousands of dollars. We've always had a goal to liberate the industry -- even our company name is based on the Latin word 'liber,' the root of liberty and free!

"It's amazing that vendors in this market rely upon customer-hostile policies such as encrypted file formats and forced product retirements/upgrades -- and even more amazing: their customers stand for it. We believe these oppressive practices and the companies that engage in them have basically caused the industry to stagnate, and we're out to change things.

"I also want to emphasize that Alibre Design Xpress is not a 'bait and switch' offer. We believe that by providing very high value software to a lot of people, and then engaging with them to learn from them -- while building trust by respecting their privacy and requests to opt-out of our communications -- we will increase sales of our flagship Alibre Design product family."

For more details and to register for a free copy of Alibre Design Xpress, go to
www.alibre.com/xpress, or contact
Email Contact for more information. An Alibre Design Xpress user forum and FAQ are available at the site.

OK, I was extremely skeptical when I first caught wind of X-CAD - about the product itself and whether 100,000 people would register. I waited several hours before actually deciding to post the original press release. As a matter of fact, I almost didn't run it because I had been burned on so-called "free" software offers in the past. This offer by Alibre, though, seems completely legitimate.

As yet there aren't a lot of details about exactly what features and capabilities Alibre Design Xpress actually has, except that it's a parametric solid modeler and is easy to use. Whatever they are, you sure can't beat the price. I suspect that the target customers for this software are exactly as the company states, those new to 3D, casual/occasional users, and hobbyists - users with pretty light demands and requirements. I also suspect that Alibre Design Xpress could be construed as sort of an Alibre "Lite," but most companies hate that moniker. Will users outgrow Alibre Design Xpress and want to move up to Alibre Design starting at $995? Hard to say, but the company has to be betting
that at least some will.

As of July 21, Alibre had over 101,000 registrants, so I guess the deal is on. Since I'm pretty familiar with Alibre Design Xpress' big brother, Alibre Design, I'll be anxious to take a close look at how its smaller sibling fares and compares. As I gain some hands-on time with Alibre Design Xpress, I'll pass along my comments in a future MCADCafe Weekly.

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.

UGS Corp. announced that Missler Software, a leading global CAD/CAM/ERP supplier, has made a long-term commitment to retaining Parasolid software as the underlying 3D geometric modeling software for its entire computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) product line. The decision was made after Missler Software conducted an exhaustive six month benchmark comparing the industry's most widely used commercially available geometric modeling products. As part of a periodic process, the company recently conducted a complete re-assessment of all its technology sourcing decisions in order to ensure they are employing the most advanced technology available to maintain the
functionality and high quality their customers have come to expect. During this re-assessment Parasolid emerged as the clear industry leader over its primary competitors. As a result, Missler Software will continue to use the Parasolid modeling kernel.

PTC reported revenue of $180.3 million for the third fiscal quarter ended July 2, 2005, up 7% from $168.4 million for the same period last year. The growth was driven primarily by strength in North America and Europe, and PTC's consulting and training services offerings around the world. Net income for the third quarter was $26.7 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, compared with net income of $16.1 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, in the year-ago period. The third quarter net income includes an income tax benefit of $4.4 million due to the favorable resolution of a foreign jurisdiction tax audit. Excluding this benefit, PTC's third quarter net income was $22.3 million, or $0.08
per diluted share. The year-ago period net income included restructuring charges of $3.5 million. Cash and cash equivalents grew to $403.0 million at the end of the third quarter from $384.2 million at the end of the second quarter of 2005.

When Michael Sagan and his team of industrial designers at Trek Bicycle Corp. began using thinkiD for the first time, it was definitely trial by fire. The engineers at the 29-year-old bike manufacturer had just four weeks to design and build a new time trial bike, the TTx, for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. Designing a time trial Bike is not a simple task. According to Sagan, Trek's senior designer and Technology Principal, understanding aerodynamics is paramount to designing the leanest and fastest racing bike in the world. Trek's Time Trial bike frames are made of a complex composite material called OCLV(R) HC
Honeycomb carbon. Modifying the frame design, even millimeters, is a time-intensive activity. With only a month to make the TTx a reality, the Trek team had to collapse modification time down as much as possible and ensure the precision engineering demanded for a racing bike stayed intact. The technology driving this type of design is think3's Global Shape Modeling, called GSM3. GSM3 automatically makes geometry calculations under a shape change while maintaining design integrity. This typically is a manual process for the designer.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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