Still Relevant After All These Years: Spatial 3D Software Components

  • They are developed, supported, and maintained by an expert source that focuses on improving specific aspects of the component.
  • They allow relatively small organizations to develop applications relatively economically and lets them focus on what they do best.
  • They are updated and released on a regular schedule so customers can time their application releases accordingly.

Of course, a counter argument could be made regarding software components, but most of the Spatial customers I have spoken with over the years have generally been pleased with the arrangement and results.

3D software components are Spatial's legacy and will continue to be its business for a long time to come. As they were in the past, software components will remain significant and relevant into the future for the MCAD industry.

Response to a Letter to the Editor

We recently received an interesting email from a reader on the subject of software piracy:

As we all know, with pirated software, it is possible to get almost any commercial software on the Internet, and many dollars are spent trying to circumvent the pirating. We hear of how much money the software companies are losing to this action, but I would like to differ on that. Nearly all of the pirated software is obtained by non-commercial entities who use it for personal non-money making endeavors. These are people who aren't going to buy the software just for creating one or two personal products solely for their use. Software companies that cry that they are losing millions of dollars in lost sales due to software piracy are just crying wolf as they would never had made those sales anyway. On the other side, nearly all companies that design products for sale in an effort to make profits buy the software that they use and have proper licenses. If I owned an MCAD software development company I wouldn't build in any code to stop people from using the software and let anyone who wants to use it for personal use to do so so long as their work is not used to generate a profit for the user. Those who do use it to create products that are sold and generate profit will be required to buy a license. The fastest way to make your product the most used or popular in the world is to let everyone use it for free. MCAD software suppliers should focus their efforts on making money from the commercial users which is what they do now.

Just imagine how quickly bugs and other issues would be caught if everyone was using your software. From society's side just think of how much creativity would be generated by allowing everyone to use the software.

Maybe it is time for the industry to rethink their business model – no license, no direct support or training.

While this is just my thought, maybe someone from MCADCafe to look more into the whole issue of piracy and actual real dollar loss versus potential lost sales.


Mike LaCroix

Mike brings up some good points that are valid, but the issues he raises are quite complicated. The CAD software business has gotten not just more competitive, but cut throat. As far as piracy goes, early on, the CAD companies quietly encouraged it “to get the word out” about their new technologies. Today, however, enforcement costs for piracy outweigh the probable return because most organizations who are doing it usually have relatively few pirated seats.

As it turns out, there are several alternatives to full-cost, high-end CAD
software, including:

1. Free software, such as Blender, SketchUp, and AutoCAD WS.
2. Student editions of CAD software. These account for a large percentage of vendors' installed seat count.
3. Low-cost software, such as Alibre and ViaCAD (<$200) for hobbyists and DIYers.
4. Most contemporary commercial CAD software can be installed on at least two computers owned by the original purchaser. However, this issue of software “ownership” brings end user licensing agreements (EULA) into the mix, and we're not going to get into that can of worms debacle here.

The piracy issue is very complicated, may be serious, and should be addressed, even though the vendors (with the exception of Microsoft) do not seem that interested in it anymore – at least not outwardly.

What are your thoughts on software piracy? Is it still an issue that should be vigorously pursued? We'd love to hear from end users and vendors on this topic.

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.

Trek Bicycles Uses Objet Connex 3D Printer with ABS-like Material to Test Bike Parts

Any avid cyclist knows that to beat the pack on the road or mountain trail you've got to be fast; you've got to pay attention to every detail, and you've got to push every limit. And your bike has to keep up. Trek applies these same principles to designing new parts for its bicycles. It uses Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer for design iterations and confirming the fit and function of bike parts early on in the design process - reducing lead times from 28 days to just one day. Using the Objet Connex500 multi-material 3D printer, designers in Trek's Prototype Development Group can print a fully-functional 3D bike part they can use on their bikes in just one day, instead of waiting four weeks for a CNC part. With the prototype parts printed in Objet's new ABS-like material, engineers can test the fit and function. They can insert a 3D printed prototype into a working bicycle and take it out on the trail to test performance - early on in the design cycle, when it's easier and cheaper to adjust the part design.

Edgecam Roughing Smooths the Way for Better Machining
The following are some of the many improvements in functionality in Edgecam 2012 R1:

Flow Surface Cycle: The new Flow Surface cycle follows the flow of the surfaces, offering improved surface finish, helical support to reduce link moves, and multiple face support, making it ideal for machining fillets and 3D surfaces.

Waveform Roughing Strategy: Constant tool load path and smooth toolpath pattern, offering greater stability, more precise machining and faster metal removal. This gives improved tool life, constant engagement with material and constant chip load, superior material removal rates, and an improved surface finish which potentially eliminates secondary cutting cycles.

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