January 12, 2004
Creating Better Curves For Consumer Products
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

This is the first MCADWeekly Review for 2004. We will pick up where we left off in late December. We hope you all enjoyed a great holiday season and are looking forward to a prosperous New Year.

Creating Better Curves For Consumer Products

Today, product designers are increasingly finding that consumers are scrutinizing their work from every angle. The shape and finish of a consumer product are important indicators of that "je ne sais quoi" quality factor. To be the best requires accurate CAD modeling of the design coupled with ultra-precise mold tools. The catch, as everyone in the industry likes to joke, is that the product designer and the mold tool manufacturer are completely different species.

To help solve this age-old dilemma, VX Corp., a developer of integrated CAD/CAM products for engineers and industrial designers, has announced enhanced edge filleting, including what it terms a "designer fillet" in its VX Designer product.

The VX solution challenges that perception by giving product designers tools of creative freedom complemented with essential manufacturability. A good example of this power is VX Designer's "designer fillets." Traditional arc-based fillets have their place, but on plastic consumer products the tangent edge blend can often be too pronounced. This proves to be especially true and unattractive in the unflattering light of retail outlets.

It is commonplace to combat this problem by hand fettling and polishing a plastic mold. The VX designer fillet however is a softer blend curve than a primitive arc. The designer fillet is noticeably more pleasing to the eye. The subtlety of the blend transition is derived during mold machining, thereby requiring less post-machining work and helping to maintain consistent shape and form in multi-cavity molds.

This is an impressive development by VX Corp. that involves some pretty fancy math and calculations unseen and probably under-appreciated by the end user. Beyond this development, the company has a line of products that range from basic entry-level design tools, to mold design and machining, to a comprehensive suite with end-to-end CAD and CAM tools. VX products do some things differently than the competition and can do some things that the competition can't do at all. If you haven't looked at VX CAD and CAM products for a while, or ever, they merit a closer look if you are involved with the design and production of complex forms.

Simulation Data Management - An Idea Whose Time Has Come

MSC.Software Corp., a provider of virtual product development (VPD) products including simulation software and services, announced the availability of MSC.Simulation Data Management (SDM) 2004. MSC.SDM provides a managed approach to simulation processes, captures all intermediate and resulting data, reduces dependency on physical tests, and ultimately reduces product development costs.

Manufacturers around the world are increasing their use of virtual prototyping and reducing their dependence on physical prototyping in order to reduce development costs and get products to market faster. The increased reliance on VPD techniques necessitates a system for managing the ever-increasing amount of performance-related product data, and for managing the processes that generate and make use of the resulting data.

MSC.SDM is a web-based Enterprise Simulation Portal that improves the return on investment of existing simulation tools and systems, by increasing productivity and giving companies collaborative, enterprise-wide access to model and simulation data. This allows engineers to perform automated simulations, evaluate design changes and generate comparative reports to determine optimal design configurations.

Frank Perna, chairman and CEO of MSC.Software, said, "Virtual product development (VPD) relies on a combination of computer simulation and physical test to ultimately ensure design performance criteria are met. The simulation processes are typically unstructured, but create a tremendous amount of invaluable data that is uncontrolled and difficult to correlate. MSC.SDM provides the ability to manage simulation processes, capture data that can be reused or reassessed in the future, and provide results in a manner that can be applied to the product design easily. We saw an extremely strong surge in interest in SDM in the latter half of 2003 and we are confident that we can help customers make
informed investments in simulation technology for their most critical product performance data."

MSC.SDM improves the virtual product development process by allowing engineers to study product design and performance more rapidly and with more confidence. MSC.SDM 2004 includes many new features and enhancements enabling engineers to set-up simulation processes, conduct the simulations, quickly evaluate results, iterate through several design "what- if" scenarios, and provide high-impact feedback to the design team.

Anyone who has run simulations has had to come to grips with managing the tremendous amount of data that can be generated. All too quickly it can get completely out of hand to the point where the mountains of data generated are of little or no use. MSC.SDM seems like a good idea, and one whose time has definitely come. Proper simulation data management should not only optimize the products being simulated, but also the simulation process itself.

New 3D Graphics Component Suite Supports Interesting Platforms

Tech Soft America (TSA), a provider of graphics components to many CAD/CAM/CAE software packages, announced the newest version of its HOOPS 3D Product Suite. The HOOPS 3D Product Suite components are used in literally hundreds of engineering software applications from companies including Autodesk, SolidWorks, PTC, Dassault Systemes, MSC.Software, Proficiency, Bentley, Fluent, COADE, CADKEY, and ITI. HOOPS toolkits are used to reduce R&D costs, speed time-to-market, and produce more powerful graphical applications.

The HOOPS 3D Product Suite is a set of extensible, high-level components that dramatically simplifies the design, development and maintenance of high-performance, interactive 2D/3D applications for Mac OS X, Windows, UNIX, LINUX, Windows CE devices or the Web. HOOPS components provide the base infrastructure for building custom, high-performance applications. Developers work from a high level to extend and customize the framework, taking advantage of the power of the underlying set of components and, rather than attempting to re-invent the vast functionality already encapsulated within the HOOPS product set, they can focus their development efforts on their true value-add.

Highlights of the HOOPS 10.0 release include new platform/device support for Mac OS X, Tablet PC, Visual Studio.NET and Win64. A new Direct3D driver to leverage the Direct3D API on Windows has also been made available in Beta Form. In addition, HOOPS' Large Model Visualization features have been extended with algorithms for Occlusion Culling and new extensions to HOOPS' Level-of-Detail (LOD) capabilities. New enhancements in the areas of texture handling, selection, rich text support, hidden-line logic, compression and shadow handling round out the new release.

"We continue to be impressed with the HOOPS toolkit and the level of service we receive from Tech Soft America," said Michael Jannery, VP of marketing for Proficiency, the creator of a CAD-independent, feature-based model viewer using the HOOPS toolkit. "Their technology and support have enabled us to greatly shorten our product development cycle time and to more rapidly respond to our customers' enhancement requests."

Ron Fritz, managing partner for TSA said, "As the number of software companies leveraging HOOPS components continues to grow, so do their expectations for new functionality and broader platform support. HOOPS v10.0 again demonstrates our ability to quickly deliver rich development toolkits that enable the engineering software community to produce powerful, innovative products."

Although it is behind the scenes, HOOPS is a vital part of just about every major and minor graphical mechanical engineering software package - CAD, CAM, and CAE. The development of the HOOPS offerings, along with modeling kernels, such as ACIS and Parasolid, are too often neglected and taken for granted. Without them, the engineering software market (for better or worse) would almost certainly not be where it is today. The features of Release 10.0 are interesting, but so are the platforms supported, including Mac OS X and Tablet PC.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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