May 05, 2008
Siemens PLM Software Announces Synchronous Technology
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"Siemens recognized the huge potential of synchronous technology during the due diligence process of acquiring UGS," said Anton Huber, CEO, Siemens Industry Automation Division. "Knowing that the digital model is at the heart of our shared vision to unify the product and production lifecycles, we have worked together to accelerate this breakthrough in CAD technology. The digital model impacts every phase of the PLM process and is key to delivering innovation faster than ever before. This technology will fundamentally change the way manufacturers design products and enable them to accelerate their innovation process, ultimately driving increases in top line revenue."
"This new synchronous technology is indeed a breakthrough," said Jack Beeckman, PLM manager, Liebert Corp. "It marks a new era in modeling that allows an engineer the freedom to be an engineer. With an instantaneous modeling experience, this is going to change the way people think about using CAD. More importantly it's going to change the way CAD enables them to think about 'what' they want to model, and not 'how' they want to model."
The technology is the first-ever design solution that simultaneously synchronizes geometry and rules through a new decision-making inference engine. It accelerates innovation in four key areas:
• Fast idea capture: Synchronous technology captures ideas as fast as the user thinks them, with up to 100 times faster design experience. Designers can devote more time to innovation with new techniques that provide the efficiency of parametric dimension-modeling without the computational overhead of pre-planned dependencies. The technology defines optionally persistent dimensions, parameters and design rules at time of creation or edit, without the overhead of an ordered history.
• Fast design changes: The technology automates the implementation of planned or unplanned design changes to seconds versus hours thorough unparalleled ease of editing, regardless of design origination, with or without the presence of a history tree.
• Improved multi-CAD reuse: The technology allows users to reuse data from other CAD systems without remodeling. Users can succeed in a multi-CAD environment with a fast, flexible system that enables them to edit other CAD system data faster than they can in the original system, regardless of the design methodology. A technique called "suggestive selection" automatically infers the function of various design elements without the need for feature or constraint definitions. This increases design reuse and OEM/supplier efficiency.
• New user experience: The technology provides a new user interaction experience that simplifies CAD and makes 3D as easy to use as 2D. The interaction paradigm merges historically independent 2D and 3D environments, providing the robustness of a mature 3D modeler with the ease of 2D. New inference technology automatically infers common constraints and executes typical commands based on cursor position. This makes design tools simple to learn and use for occasional users, driving downstream use to manufacturing engineering and the shop floor.
"While there have been important advances in 3D design technology over the years, designers have not been able to create persistent features without the computational overhead needed to re-compute models from the construction history," said Chuck Grindstaff, executive vice president of Products, Siemens PLM Software. "Traditional parametric modeling serially applies rules to geometry, helping to automate planned change but not addressing unanticipated engineering changes. History-less modeling concentrates on geometry in an unconstrained manner, but sacrifices intelligence and intent. Direct editing minimizes the need to understand a complex history but does not address features.
"Our new synchronous technology incorporates the best of constrained and unconstrained techniques to deal with change in an extremely powerful and efficient manner. Applying the right technique to the job at hand, enables dimension-driven modeling to reach its full potential, generating tremendous productivity gains over traditional methods."
The patent-pending technology was jointly developed between Siemens PLM Software's NX and Solid Edge organizations. Siemens PLM Software's synchronous technology will be implemented in the next versions of both Solid Edge and NX as a proprietary application layer built on its D-Cubed and Parasolid software. The next versions are scheduled for launch on May 21 at the annual Siemens PLM Software Analyst and Media Conference in Boston.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
The day after we published this news item, we received an interesting letter from a reader that asked the question, “Is this the Holy Grail for 3D CAD Systems?” He went on to say that when traditional feature/history-based modeling is combined with inference / rule based engine it created quite an interesting set of possibilities in creating 3D CAD geometry. “The Direct Modeling techniques offered by Siemens was always considered an outsider to the above technique. It will be quite interesting to see how a direct update of the 3D model can synchronize the knowledge rules embedded in the geometry,” he said.
Our good friend and colleague, Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA, also thinks it’s a good idea whose time not only has come, but continues to proliferate. He said, “Synchronous technology breaks through the architectural barrier inherent in a history-based modeling system. Its ability to recognize current geometry conditions and localize dependencies in real time, allows synchronous technology to solve for model changes without the typical replay of the full construction history from the point of edit. Depending on model complexity and how far back in the history that edit occurs, users will see dramatic performance gains. A 100 times speed improvement could be a
While this an interesting announcement that has received a lot of attention even before it is actually released as a marketable product with the next versions of NX and Solid Edge Siemens PLM Software, is hardly the first to promote the benefits and advantages of a non-history-based design approach with synchronous technology. Siemens now joins the ranks of Kubotek, CoCreate, IronCAD, and SpaceClaim who have already embraced it. However, Siemens’ take on the approach is quite different than the competition, some of my peers, and bloggers would have you think – it’s a lot more than direct modeling, or more precisely, direct model editing.
While synchronous technology does provide non-history based direct modeling capabilities, it also provides the ability to employ dimension- and constraint-driven modeling. It is the combination of all of these capabilities that sets Siemens PLM Software’s synchronous technology apart from the competition. Synchronous technology will likely benefit users in the following areas:
• Initial designs could be created quicker without having to concern yourself with pre-planning the design process for creating features
• Design changes will likely be quicker because there is no history tree
• No history tree will be handy capability in a multi-CAD environment
• Without a history tree that can be restrictive, mechanical design might be easier to learn and better suited to “casual” users, as well as “full-timers.”
What makes synchronous technology especially noteworthy is the fact that it will be implemented in the next versions of both NX and Solid Edge that will be released this summer. So, while initially and outwardly, synchronous technology looked like just another “me too” capability, it is, in fact, nothing of the sort and could prove to be quite an MCAD product differentiator going forward. I’m anxious to try it for myself when the products are released. I’ll report back on my experience and how it contrasts and compares with the competition. Things seem to be heating up once again in the increasingly competitive MCAD world.
So, to answer our reader’s questions as to whether synchronous technology is the Holy Grail for 3D CAD systems with miraculous powers? I don’t think I’d go that far, but synchronous technology looks very promising as a major development that should benefit users and change the MCAD landscape.
The Week’s Top 5
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FIRST Robotics Competition Selects National Instruments CompactRIO for Next-Generation Robot Control System
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders, has selected the National Instruments CompactRIO embedded control platform as its next-generation FIRST Robotics Competition robot controller. Students can program their robots based on CompactRIO in either NI LabVIEW graphical programming software or the ANSI C language. The CompactRIO platform gives high school students access to advanced control capabilities and superior performance, including a 400 MHz PowerPC and FPGA-based I/O. The CompactRIO modular I/O system offers connectivity to a wide array of sensor and actuator options and powerful real-time vision processing to build a highly advanced robot. Students will be able to create robots that may be driver-controlled or run in fully autonomous mode using the latest technologies including wireless monitoring and simulation for more in-competition control and more accurate designs. Several key technology suppliers have collaborated with NI to provide in-kind donations of components required to build the CompactRIO control system, including Analog Devices, Boston Engineering, ChipX, Dove Electronics, Freescale, MSI,
Texas Instruments, TTI, Westak, Wind River, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Xilinx.
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.