September 17, 2007
Dassault Systèmes and Seemage Announce Strategic Partnership
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Dassault Systèmes (DS) and Seemage Inc., a provider of 3D content production from digital product definition data, announced their intention to become strategic partners. The partnership will leverage the companies’ respective strengths to dramatically grow their presence in the 3D product documentation market.

The partnership will provide a seamless link between product documentation and PLM product-related data. For companies, this eliminates all disparities between product-related IP and any required product documentation, such as animations, graphics and illustrations for training, maintenance manuals and service procedures. Working together, the companies will permit the exploitation of 3D as a universal media.

“Seemage joining the CAA program is noteworthy for CATIA users,” said Patrice Bélanger, PLM business process manager, Bombardier Aerospace. “To be competitive today, we have to eliminate rework and delays in the production of service procedures and product documentation. But to automate these critical processes we need increased integration between Seemage and Dassault Systèmes’ solutions. We look forward to implementing the results of this partnership to help us address these business challenges.”

“We fully endorse DS’s 3DVIA strategy and are delighted to be part of its ecosystem,” says Chris Williams, CEO, Seemage Inc. “The partnership with DS will bring tremendous value to our users, extending the reach of 3D digital assets beyond design communities for their product maintenance, training, operation and sales and marketing processes.” Seemage users can exploit 3D data from any 3D CAD or enterprise system and create content from this for any desired output in formats including Microsoft Office documents, PDF and HTML. Seemage’s XML-based architecture integrates seamlessly with enterprise systems.

“The partnership will define a new, collaborative way to integrate product documentation into product innovation and PLM in 3D,” said Pascal Daloz, executive vice president, strategy and marketing, Dassault Systèmes. “Working with Seemage, Dassault Systèmes intends to lead the convergence between 3D product definition and 3D product documentation, increasing the value of digital product data in the enterprise and beyond. Our customers can rely on Seemage to produce rich deliverables with high accuracy and security.”

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

While this announcement is interesting, it isn’t exactly Seemage’s first foray into Dassault, because last month the company announced that its Seemage system was compatible with SolidWorks. Seemage develops products for producing deliverables directly from what it terms digital product definition data, using an open, XML-based architecture that integrates with enterprise systems.

This announcement was about the Seemage system of products being brought into the Component Application Architecture (CAA) fold, Dassault Systèmes’ open middleware and development environment for PLM. So now, CATIA users, like , SolidWorks users, are able to use Seemage to create product design-related deliverables, such as animations, technical illustrations, service procedures, and so on. Simply put, the Seemage system is used for producing 3D product documentation from digital product definition data. Supported 3D CAD systems now include CATIA V4 and V5, Pro/ENGINEER, JT, STEP, IGES, and SolidWorks.

The Seemage system consists of Seemage Viz, Seemage Mockup and Seemage Publisher for creating product content from 3D CAD models. The free Seemage Player is distributable and offers users the ability to view Seemage-authored content. The Seemage system also includes Seemage Secure3D for security, Seemage Rights Manager for access control, Seemage Importers for data import, Seemage Sync for data synchronization and Seemage Clash for interference checking.

The past couple of announcements by Seemage indicate that the technical visualization and publishing market continues to grow. Unlike some of the competitors in this space, Seemage is not a single tool, but rather a suite or system of different tools that perform different functions, but collaboration and producing technical product documentation are the primary aims of the toolset. Seemage’s modularity is unique because this structure lets the functionality build as the comprehensive system of all of the its component parts are assembled and used together.

When all are used, the various Seemage products work together for high-performance viewing, mark-up, and then some. Because data can be loaded from a variety of sources (now including SolidWorks), it can be inspected, measured, sectioned, assembled, disassembled, and used as the basis for collaborative efforts. That’s a lot of functionality, but with a slightly different twist in the way the data is presented with a lot of the unnecessary detail stripped out.

Another slight twist is that files created in Seemage are stored in a proprietary XML-based .SMG file, although the XML part is pretty neutral. Ordinarily I’m not a big fan of translation processes and proprietary formats, but these files are portable and can be used either standalone with the free Seemage Viewer, and can also be embedded into PowerPoint for presentations, PDFs, and other types of documents. Let’s briefly take a look at the parts that comprise the Seemage system.

Seemage Viz is the starting point for authoring that provides the capability for importing the CAD data. Beyond the basic data import tools, the additional Seemage Sync module provides a higher level of associativity with native CAD data, ensuring that the data is the most current and optimized with regard not only to geometry, but BOMs and other types manufacturing information, as well. The resulting information as an .SMG file also is secure, meaning that levels of access and associated actions can be assigned.

Next is Seemage Mock-Up that builds on basic collaboration functionality, but add-on tools customize it to approach a level for true digital mock-up processes, including using kinematics to create animations.

Finally, there is Seemage Publisher that provides a comprehensive environment that can output raster graphics for repurposing already repurposed data. It’s not as confusing as it might sound. Suffice it to say that the data can be used for a myriad additional purposes.

Admittedly, the price goes up as modules are added, and there are certainly other visualization/publishing products out there to choose from, but the security, sychronization, and other key aspects are what sets the Seemage modular system apart. This partnership fits in well with Dassault’s future direction and 3DVIA strategy. In fact, ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised if this partnership became an acquisition.

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 news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Arena Solutions, announced its new
Arena PLM Fall '07 release. Customers will be able to take advantage of the new enhancements and usability improvements that extend across the entire application, affecting all core functional areas, including change management, compliance, outsourcing and supplier management, project collaboration, etc. More than 70 improvements in the product were the result of customer feedback that came directly from Arena PLM's FastFeedback functionality that lets users provide comments and make requests in real time, from inside the product. Arena Solutions' on-demand delivery model (also called software-as-a-service, or SaaS) permits users to benefit from the the product the same day
it's rolled out, while simultaneously allowing them to continue spending their efforts on product development, rather than on installing upgrades, expensive and risky migration projects, customizations, or IT infrastructure.

LMS has appointed
Mr. Luc Missorten to the Board of Directors of LMS. He has extensive management experience with leading international corporations. Until recently, he held the position of Executive VP and CFO at UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company. He started his career as associated council at law firm De Bandt, Van Heckke & Lagae, followed by multiple VP positions at Citibank in legal, taxes, product development, and corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions. Luc Missorten holds a degree in law from the Catholic University of Leuven, and a Masters of Law from the University of California Berkeley.

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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