February 18, 2008
VX CAD/CAM V13 Released
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
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VX Corporation, specializing in CAD/CAM for consumer products and molds, announced availability of VX Version 13. This version contains an unprecedented number of enhancements that continues to strengthen VX's position in the product design and mold & die markets.

With nearly a thousand customer and market driven enhancements, most of which provide dramatic productivity gains and new capabilities, Version 13 promises to be one of the most important, innovative releases in VX history.

Product designers will benefit from a new filleting engine that helps them get more "style" into products. Product designers will also realize increased productivity gains for adding digital images to products with the enhanced embossing tool that automatically smooths out irregular surfaces. A new capability for branding and packaging is where text can be made to follow a circle or spline curve where the text floats above the curve as the curve's profile changes and optionally stretches or shrinks as the curve length changes. This allows manufacturers to quickly and easily add company and other information to complex shaped products and containers. Another performance enhancement for
designers is the ability to model with real-time analysis thus giving instant feedback on aspects such as curvature and draft angles.

Other features to help product designers visualize new products are a new photo-realistic rendering engine that brings an "industrial design" level of rendering to VX. Likewise, textured objects, also new for Version 13, lets designers get real-time realistic views of products while they're being designed.

Mechanical designers will benefit from motion simulation where animations can be created for studying moving parts in assemblies. Moreover, assembly interference can be visually checked with dynamic clipping offering up-close segmented and internal views of parts and assemblies.

Mechanical designers can now get section views on layouts with different hatching options that provide a much better view of assemblies without a lot of manual editing. Mold designers will now be able to design electrodes faster with the auto-electrode tool that speeds creation and machining of multiple electrodes. Automatic region recognition for picking connected sets of faces speeds electrode design by reducing the number of picks to just a few for complex electrodes with many surfaces.

Enhancements to VX's QuickMill for mold machining include new SmoothFlow technology that ensures smooth finishes for reducing polishing time while maximizing machine tool efficiency and reducing machine wear and tear. Other CAM enhancements include Offset3D Feature Aware Machining where tool path motion is automatically adjusted to preserve fine sharp edged detail; Variable Z Level machining for containment of simple tool paths for better finishes with no wasted motions; and XML output to help streamline shopfloor communication. "VX Version 13 is an astounding release that provides tremendous productivity enhancements and new capabilities to product designers and mold makers, " says Bob
Fischer, VX Vice President Sales and Marketing, "Version 13 is certainly one of the most important and innovative releases in our history."

VX Corporation is a pioneering developer of CAD/CAM solutions for industrial designers, engineers and CNC programmers. VX enables speedy design with fully integrated, accurate manufacturing. Using a blazing fast hybrid modeling engine, engineers can take advantage of the speed of solids with the flexibility of Class A surfaces. Designers can create, modify, visualize, document and machine a vast array of parts and assemblies. From the entry-level Modeler, to the complete End-to-End, VX delivers power, performance and productivity. Images and captions on the following page.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

VX CAD/CAM might not be the best known MCAD application out there on the market today, but it has been around a number of years, and has always been stable and capable, and has come a long way from its beginnings. Like a lot of its competition, it's a hybrid modeler, meaning that you can create designs with different combinations of surfaces and solids, but is built on a proprietary geometric modeling kernel technology. It also integrates some fairly sophisticated CAM capabilities, especially if you design plastic parts and require an application that can also design the molds to produce them, through optional mold and die and CAM modules.

VX is a CAD and CAM solution, and both are integrated into the same VX geometric kernel technology, which is good for the obvious similarities in look, feel, and behavior, that can maximize their benefits. Although you can purchase each one separately, I have to think that they are most productive when used together.

A few releases ago, probably VX's biggest complaint stemmed from its interface, or lack thereof. -- input dialog boxes were scattered all over the graphics window and were constantly obstructing the view of the model and hindered workflow big time. That problem was largely resolved with the introduction of the VX Data manager. Although hardly new at the time,it proved to be a big time saver and productivity enhancer.

VX CAD/CAM contains a more comprehensive set of modeling tools compared with some of the competition, which can be a good thing. However, these options can make VX appear overly complicated and difficult to learn/use, especially to users new to 3D modeling. Largely through an improved UI, VX has made good progress in making the last few versions more user friendly while also expanding functionality. Keep in mind, though, the depth of functionality can require patience and experimentation for achieving the results that you're after based o design intent.

For several releases now, some of the strongest aspects of VX CAD/CAM have been its advanced solid and surface modeling tools. This seems to carried forward with V13. Since V11, I've thought that VX's Loft with Drive Curves tool has been one of the best for a so-called “mid-range” product because of the way it connects the first and last profiles to create a smooth "closed" lofted surface through multiple profiles. A similar function in some other CAD products can be a challenge, often producing unexpected or undesirable results. Again,a time saver for creating surfaces that can be tough to model. There are also some good surface analysis tools available for checking the
quality of the surfaces you create,and ensuring that they coincide with your design intent.

VX CAD/CAM is a good MCAD application, especially if you are in the market for something that offers excellent advanced solid and surface modeling and CAM capabilities, all in one package. Admittedly, it's a package that probably provides the greatest degree of utility to organizations that design and manufacture plastic parts. Some competitors are also offering “specialty” packages for specific types of design and manufacture, which can be good, because the functionality can be optimized for a particular type product deign and associated process. Plastics design and production are where VX has found its niche and provides it a path to the future in a crowded market.

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.

Tech Soft 3D Releases HOOPS v16.0Tech Soft 3D (TS3D) announced the availability of HOOPS version 16.0 that delivers Direct3D support and performance enhancements. HOOPS is a 2D/3D development platform for creating or enhancing professional-grade applications. Its rich set of application programming interfaces (APIs) enables developers to work from a high level, and jump-starting software application development. It
also enables programming teams to produce more competitive applications and to accelerate project delivery, while reducing total research and development costs. "DirectX is raising the bar for experience and productivity by providing increased performance and visual quality with lower support costs on consumer, business and workstation-class graphics hardware," said Simon Floyd, Microsoft's worldwide industry technology strategist for product lifecycle Management. "The new Direct3D-driver in HOOPS offers a high-level programming approach that helps computer-aided design software developers rapidly migrate their applications and benefit from the advantages in DirectX and Windows Vista."

Record-Setting 2007 for Web-Based Manufacturer QuickpartsQuickparts, Inc. reported a record-setting 2007.

In 2007, Quickparts was recognized as a fast-growth company appearing on Inc. Magazine's Inc. 5000 list, Deloitte's 2007 Technology Fast 500 and the prestigious Technology Fast 50 Program for Georgia for the third consecutive year. Quickparts provides custom manufacturing services for engineers and designers who want to create plastic and metal parts from 3D CAD models. With its patented proprietary QuickQuote technology, Quickparts is able to provide product designers with an 'instant online quote' for the manufacturing of their custom parts from prototype to production. Quickparts custom manufacturing services include rapid
prototypes (SLA, SLS, FDM, PolyJet), cast urethanes, injection mold tooling and parts, sheet metal parts, and CNC machined parts.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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