April 02, 2007
Acrobat 3D Accelerates Renault’s Design Collaboration Processes
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Adobe Systems announced that Renault Group has adopted Adobe Acrobat 3D software to extend 3D visualization and design collaboration capabilities across its extended enterprise of employees and supply chain partners. Renault plans to deploy the product throughout its engine and body organizations, and expects to harness PDF to more reliably and securely share 3D designs via widely available, free Adobe Reader software. The agreement involves 5,000 seats of Acrobat 3D.

Many large manufacturing companies rely on different computer-aided design (CAD) formats, software applications and operating systems in the design and development of products. The structured CAD and digital mock-up workflows within Renault's Product Data Management (PDM) system already support the ability to share native file formats among engineers. At the same time, PDM and digital mock-up infrastructures can be further extended to teams to speed product development, while also helping to maintain the accuracy and security of proprietary information. With Adobe PDF already an existing component of Renault's core business processes, Acrobat 3D will deliver 3D engineering
content at the document level in the same familiar and reliable cross-platform format.

"The pressure to deliver better products faster, in the face of fierce competition and the continued growth of outsourcing, is top-of-mind for manufacturing organizations worldwide, from automotive and aerospace companies to those in areas such as industrial machinery," said Tom Hale, senior vice president, Knowledge Worker Business Unit at Adobe. "Acrobat 3D will enable Renault to drive document-based design collaboration processes across extended teams more quickly, securely and cost-effectively using proven, time-tested technologies in PDF and the ubiquitous, free Adobe Reader."

Acrobat 3D allows Renault teams to convert 3D models from a wide variety of major CAD formats and embed them into PDF files through a simple drag-and-drop process or by capturing the OpenGL displays--regardless of whether they have the specific CAD application. Three-dimensional objects can be combined in a single PDF document with relevant product development information, such as spreadsheets, presentations, images, and even dynamic XML data extracted from the company's PDM system. Engineers can then quickly share the PDF file with other departments or external partners in an immediate, iterative feedback process alongside more structured design reviews. When enabled by
Acrobat 3D, Renault's extended team members using Adobe Reader can interact with the 3D content in PDF, view product structure, apply digital signatures, and leverage commenting, measurement and cross-section tools directly on 3D objects.

Moving forward, Renault is eligible to upgrade to Acrobat 3D Version 8 software. The major upgrade to Acrobat 3D is expected to ship in Spring 2007, and will include new and enhanced capabilities for producing highly compressed PDF documents with accurate geometry from large, complex CAD assemblies. The product also will enable users to distribute product manufacturing information--used to convey geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, annotations, and dimensions directly on a 3D model--in Adobe PDF.

A group with industrial and commercial presence in 118 countries, Renault designs, develops, manufactures and sells innovative, safe and environmentally-friendly vehicles worldwide. In 2005 Renault sold 2,533,428 vehicles worldwide for revenues of EUR 41.3 billion. Renault is the only vehicle manufacturer to have eight cars with the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, and is the winner of the 2005 and 2006 Formula 1 Constructors and Drivers World Championships. The Group is accelerating its international development with the new Logan project and pursuing its Alliance with Nissan. Its 126,436 employees contribute to a strategy of profitable growth to achieve Renault Commitment
2009, a growth plan outlining Renault's strategy for the next four years. The aim is to make and sustain Renault as the most profitable European volume car company.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Selling 5,000 seats of any kind software is a pretty impressive feat these days, and with this agreement, the Adobe PDF movement continues forward in a big way. This announcement comes on the heels of some other big product news of late from Adobe – Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 in January and Photoshop CSE Extended last week .

Last week, Adobe actually announced two new Photoshop products -- Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop CS3 Extended. The company says that Photoshop CS3 software is a major upgrade,” offering new innovations in editing power and productivity for designers and photographers.” In my mind, it makes Photoshop a new tool choice for new types of users. Photoshop CS3 Extended offers a number of new capabilities for digital imaging, that includes everything in Photoshop CS3 plus additional tools for 3D, motion graphics, image measurement, and analysis. A lot like Acrobat 3D did, Photoshop CS3 Extended expands digital imaging for users in engineering, among other new

With import support for several 3D formats (U3D, 3DS, OBJ, KMZ, Collada, and maybe DXF – I’ll have to check on the last one), Photoshop CSE Extended users can render and incorporate 3D content into 2D compositions, including texture editing on 3D models. Using the Enhanced Vanishing Point, you can measure in perspective and also export from Enhanced Vanishing Point to a 3D model, as well as have the ability to create linked planes at odd angles. For mechanical design and manufacturing applications, the Measurement Log palette calculates a range of values within an image, the Scale Marker lets you add a scale graphic to any image, and the Count tool tallies features
in an image by clicking on them. From what I can tell, however, the measurements are not automatic, and are only as accurate as what you told Photoshop the measurement of a chosen element was. Photoshop then determines other lengths based on the first one.

Photoshop CS3 Extended also contains some features from what was formerly known as Adobe ImageReady, a bitmap graphics editor, including its frame-based animation tools. Adobe has expanded the animation capabilities to include a timeline for basic keyframing of video effects and individual frame edits. You can also apply filters to 3D objects via Smart Filters for rendering a model.

Photoshop CS3 Extended is a new tool that is trying to appeal to new users in new markets. Outwardly, there’s a lot to it for new users to grasp and master, but like many other visualization tools, just might find widespread acceptance and use over time. It’s a “heavy hitter’s” version of Photoshop that really requires Acrobat 3D to fulfill all of its potential. Why? Well, Photoshop CS3 Extended can import a maximum ~1.5 million polygons, therefore Acrobat 3D is required to reduce the number of polygons to a more manageable amount.

Acrobat 3D is basically an application that lets users convert 3D model data to PDF—regardless of whether they have CAD software or where it originated. Among the file formats supported are CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, and UGS NX and I-deas. After converting 3D models from those formats, using the free Adobe Reader, users can view product structure and, when enabled by Acrobat 3D, have the ability to use commenting, measurement and cross-section tools directly on 3D objects in PDF files.

Admittedly, this is all a new frontier for Adobe, but one that bears a close watch as it introduces new products and methods to the MCAD community.

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.

Proficiency introduced version 6.0 of its Collaboration Gateway, for CAD interoperability. The new version introduces a higher level approach to the overall CAD migration process, as well as additional functionality and support for its model-based definition (MBD) methodology. Proficiency's Collaboration Gateway is used to extract and share implicit product knowledge from diverse engineering and manufacturing environments. It enables organizations to reduce the cost and time of product design and development by automating the exchange of product knowledge between product development teams regardless of the CAD system being used. Highlights of the new release include:

  • Support for Model-Based Definition Methodology
  • Support for Top-Level Design Methodologies
  • Support for CATIA Hybrid Modeling (V4 and V5), Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3, and I-deas

  • Support of Entity Delete and Surface Delete features
  • Support for most common surface modeling Boolean operations.

  • ANSYS announced that it has partnered with PCA Engineers Limited to allow engineers to develop turbomachines. Working together, the companies have integrated PCA's Vista (VISual Turbomachinery Analysis) software within ANSYS solutions to improve turbomachinery design and simulation. The integration -- now available in ANSYS 11.0 -- makes it possible for turbomachinery designers to use PCA's engineering codes to develop preliminary blade designs, which then can be modified using ANSYS BladeModeler and analyzed for fluid dynamic, thermal and/or structural performance within ANSYS software. The
    Vista CCD and CPD design codes are fully integrated within ANSYS BladeModeler and are included when customers purchase or license ANSYS BladeModeler. ANSYS BladeModeler saves the Vista input parameters as part of the blade design so that new design iterations can be started from a previous design.

    Oracle filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court in the Northern District of California against SAP. Among the claims made against SAP are violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, Unfair Competition, Intentional and Negligent Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage and Civil Conspiracy. A copy of the lawsuit can be located at:

    ALGOR announced that with Matereality, they have developed an interface that connects Matereality to ALGOR software. Matereality for ALGOR allows users to mine databases for ALGOR-relevant data with Matereality's MiRo wizard and then export the selected data for FEA and simulation needs. Matereality contains a large repository of CAE-suitable data on plastics, metals, rubber, foam and composites, including stress-strain curves; rate-dependent data; tensile, compressive, creep and fatigue data. It allows users to access databases such as the MMPDS-02 (formerly Mil-handbook), used widely by the
    aerospace and defense manufacturing industries, and the NIST Lead-Free Solder Database for the electronics industry.

    EdgeCAM announced the latest release of its CNC offline programming software. Offering significant time savings in toolpath generation and simulation, EdgeCAM delivers new functionality to further support machining for traditional and current generation multi-axis machines. EdgeCAM Simulator, a visualization tool, provides realistic representation of the complete machine tool and cutting cycle. It is particularly useful for the simulation of 5-axis, surface and helical toolpaths, enabling off-line program prove out for faster routing to production. EdgeCAM 11.5 enhances multi-axis simultaneous
    machining strategies with 5-axis capabilities to streamline the programming of machines with standard or complex table configurations. EdgeCAM’s Part Modeler 3D modeling tool for constructing or editing solid models employs a new user interface incorporating customizable menus and toolbars with advanced features like flyouts and tooltips.

    Jeffrey Rowe is the editor 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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