May 24, 2010
Spatial Releases ACIS and 3D InterOp R21
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Spatial Corp., a leading provider of 3D development components for design, manufacturing and engineering applications, announced 3D ACIS Modeler and 3D InterOp Suite Release 21 (R21). The latest release delivers powerful new capabilities for engineering and manufacturing applications, improves application developer productivity with a streamlined interface, and adds support for large scale Point Clouds, enabling metrology and reverse engineering applications to efficiently store and perform operations on vast amounts of point data. R21 significantly improves the performance of 3D InterOp, the market leader in translation components for high-quality, precise geometry in data reuse

In ACIS R21, the new faceter interface for generating a surface mesh includes pre-defined settings for 3D visualization or analysis plus an expert mode resulting in faster implementation time. Mesh generation performance has been improved with a new quad tree gridding algorithm which reduces the memory footprint and required number of facets to accurately tessellate a model. And for the metrology industry, R21 ensures completion of inspection and measurement paths by providing fail safe slicing of an ACIS model. The release also includes performance enhancing options for calculating the distance between an entity and a point when assessing the dimensional accuracy of manufactured parts.

“Spatial continues to deliver the innovation Carl Zeiss requires to stay ahead of our competition. Many of the R21 capabilities are a direct result of working closely with their development team to discuss the evolving needs of the metrology industry such as increasing performance requirements as data levels increase,” commented Dr. Kai-Udo Modrich, Carl Zeiss Director Software Development. “It is clear that Spatial understands the needs of machine manufacturers with specialized applications, in addition to their more traditional markets.”

ACIS R21 New Functionality and Enhancements

Since the previously released version, ACIS R21 includes the following new capabilities:
  • The ACIS Faceter, used for visualizing 3D models or analysis applications generating a surface mesh to seed volumetric meshing, utilizes an all-new quad tree gridding algorithm for improved memory usage and performance. ACIS R21 also introduces an easy-to-use Faceter interface thereby reducing the implementation effort and time.
  • R21 supports efficient handling of large amounts of point data. Point Cloud operations include property queuing; Boolean operations such as unite, subtract and intersect; copying and subsetting; undo-redo; and adding and removing points. The interface is user extensible for applications to add custom data to the Point Cloud.
  • For manufacturing applications, R21 handles more complex geometrical conditions when thickening surfaces, ensuring accurate, precise and fully-bounded solids.
  • Metrology applications benefit from fail safe slice operations offered in R21. Fail safe slicing enables partial results when slicing an ACIS model imported from low-quality data. The result is complete inspection / measurement paths regardless of geometrical complexity or noise.
  • The Entity-Point-Distance function, which metrology applications use to measure the distance between design models and manufactured parts, has a new option to detect internal, boundary and external points. This significantly improves calculation times when comparing large amounts of data.

  • 3D InterOp R21 Enhancements

    The 3D InterOp Suite has improved performance, increased translation capabilities, and added support for the latest CAD versions.
  • New CATIA V5 Translation Capabilities
  • Reports missing components in XML EBOM product structure for assemblies
  • Supports Capture Sets
  • Supports Hidden PMI in parts
  • Translation Performance Improvements
  • String processing for IGES, STEP and VDA reader / writers
  • Attribute processing for CATIA V5 reader
  • Model generation for all readers with ACIS writer
  • New CAD Version Support
  • CATIA V5 R20 read and write
  • SolidWorks 2010 read
  • ProE Wildfire 5, Siemens NX7, Inventor 2010 read
  • Parasolid v22 read and write
  • “Spatial's customers develop a diverse set of engineering and manufacturing applications. R21 builds on the robustness and versatility of ACIS and InterOp with added capabilities and performance improvements to address specialized application needs,” stated Ray Bagley, Spatial Director of Product Planning and Management. “Spatial works closely with our customers to identify new technology that supports their goals of being leaders in their respective industries and to reduce implementation times so that they can shorten their time-to-market with new applications.”

    For more information:

    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    There was a time, and not so long ago, when geometric modeling kernels were kings of the MCAD industry. Most CAD vendors back then relied, at least to some degree, and licensed them as engines for making their software applications go. While the newly iterated kernels were a good thing, some CAD developers felt that they were held hostage by the release cycles of their geometric kernel developers. Times have changed, though. An increasing number of vendors have undertaken the enormous task of developing, maintaining, and supporting their own geometric kernels. However, not all CAD vendors have gone the independent route, because it is such a huge undertaking.

    Today, as has been the case for quite some time, two of the major major players in the geometric kernel market are ACIS (owned by Dassault) and Parasolid (owned by Siemens PLM Software), but, of course , there are others. I've thought it ironic that SolidWorks (a Dassault company) uses Parasolid from a Dassault competitor as its underlying geometric engine, and not ACIS, but that's another story for another time.

    Over the years I've gotten to know several people at Spatial (largely because they are in my own backyard in Colorado), and have always been impressed with what they have been able to accomplish with a relatively small, tight knit development group. I've also been impressed with how loyal many of their customers have been over the long haul.

    Simply put, geometric modeling kernels are the software components that make 3D solid modeling possible. Geometric modeling is one of the three legs of the triad that makes CAD possible - the other two being design and computer graphics. Geometric models are what make CAD really useful beyond basic drafting purposes and for engineering applications, as well. For them to be truly useful, geometric models must be unambiguous representations of objects. This demands that the 3D model satisfy comprehensive engineering functions from documentation (drawings) to simulation/analysis to manufacturing. That's a pretty tall order, but is absolutely essential for the utility of CAD data that
    can be repurposed.

    The 3D ACIS Modeler (ACIS) is Spatial's 3D modeling engine used in over 350 customer applications with more than 1.5 million seats worldwide (according to Spatial). ACIS is built on an open, object-oriented C++ architecture for 3D modeling. It is particularly well suited for developing applications with hybrid modeling features, since it integrates wireframe, surface, and solid modeling functionality with both manifold and non-manifold topology, and geometric operations. ACIS provides a sound base of 3D modeling functionality, plus the flexibility to meet specific application requirements. The 3D Modeler also includes ACIS extensions for specific application needs, such as hidden
    line removal, deformable modeling, advanced covering, and defeaturing.

    The latest ACIS release has new capabilities for CAD and CAM applications, has a more streamlined interface, and adds support for large scale point clouds, that let metrology and reverse engineering applications store and perform operations on huge amounts of point data. According to the company, R21 improves the performance of 3D InterOp, the company's translation components. In ACIS R21, the new faceter interface for generating a surface mesh includes pre-defined settings for 3D visualization or analysis, plus an expert mode for faster implementation.

    The 3D InterOp Suite looks like it has improved performance, increased translation capabilities, and added support for the latest CAD versions, especially CATIA. The CATIA part isn't too surprising, though, because CATIA shares the same parent, Dassault, with the 3D InterOp Suite.

    Maybe geometric kernels don't get quite the notoriety and press that they used to, but they remain an essential component for moving the MCAD industry forward. They have been and will remain a vital part of the MCAD industry for a long time to come. On the other hand, interoperability remains at the forefront of issues facing the CAD industry. Spatial continues to have a good handle and future development direction on both fronts with its 3D geometric modeling kernel and interoperability technologies.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.

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