"Companies often look for that one 'big idea' that will produce the next killer product," said Peter Marks, managing director, Design Insight. "However my research shows that the world's leading companies continually -- relentlessly -- search for ways to better satisfy their customers. Looking at it from the customer's perspective, there are at least eight things customers care about; and their perceptions change at least four times over a product life cycle. What's gratifying to see in NX is the attention to detail, from improved design and simulation through tools for knowledge capture, that are needed to support a strategy of relentless innovation."
NX enables relentless innovation at Dyson
With more than $10 billion in revenue generated last year from the sale of vacuum cleaners, Dyson is an industry leader with long-term staying power. Dyson is dedicated to innovation as evidenced by hundreds of patents per design. Utilizing NX throughout its product development process, the company has revolutionized vacuum cleaning with constant innovations that keep it well ahead of the competition.
"Dyson's philosophy is closely tied to our ability to challenge existing technologies and to come up with new innovations and designs," said John Myers, CAD systems manager, Dyson. "NX helps support this culture of innovation with its powerful design technology that takes much of the effort out of producing detailed 3D models, performing digital simulations and creating rapid prototypes."
Customer-focused enhancements benefit NX and I-deas users
By placing a high value on its customers' input, UGS has added rich, new functionality throughout NX 4 and significantly enhanced its data migration capabilities to enable a faster and more efficient transition for users moving from I-deas NX Series.
"NX 4 continues to lead the market in delivering highly productive, advanced technology for digital product development," said Chuck Grindstaff, executive vice president, Products, UGS. "This release delivers hundreds of innovative enhancements in product styling, design, analysis, simulation and manufacturing, enabling new approaches to creating innovative products. In addition, NX 4 delivers on UGS' promise to our I-deas customer base to help speed their transition to NX by including enhanced data migration tools."
"I am very impressed with UGS on its ongoing commitment and progress in merging the I-deas and Unigraphics communities into its NX product," said David Pence, system specialist, Goodrich Wheel and Brakes. "NX 4 beta software is as easy to use as midrange CAD packages while still offering advanced functionality."
New features promote innovation throughout product development
NX 4 helps manufacturers in their pursuit of innovation in four key categories -- digital simulation, knowledge capture, usability and systems engineering. Each of these areas includes new functionality that serves as a digital tool to help individuals relentlessly pursue innovations throughout product development.
NX 4 introduces many advanced CAE capabilities into NX. This functionality is essential for PLM and provides scalable analysis to support innovation. NX 4 includes design simulation tools for use by designers as well as the highest-performance simulation for the dedicated engineering analysis specialist. Advanced analysis capabilities benefit from the open and productive NX usability paradigm. New, integrated CFD and thermal analysis applications have been proven in applications that range from space satellite design to consumer electronics and automotive packaging studies. NX 4 also expands on the access to the broad analysis capabilities in NX Nastran, as well as third-party solvers like ABAQUS and ANSYS as part of UGS' "Open by Design" strategy. NX Nastran is an important part of UGS' overarching digital simulation strategy to enable customers to implement their own best practices and increase simulation's influence on design.
NX 4 includes enhancements to DesignLogic that include a pre-packaged library of common engineering functions. DesignLogic improves innovation and productivity by giving engineers the ability to embed product knowledge into the design that can be leveraged throughout the design iteration process.
In addition to design focused knowledge, manufacturing process knowledge can be captured by using the new Manufacturing Wizard Builder. Built upon the core Process Studio technologies introduced in NX 3, Manufacturing Wizard Builder allows companies to capture common manufacturing processes in a simple workflow environment. The system then automates the process of building a "wizard," or automated program, which can be published for every user. This approach allows companies to streamline manufacturing processes and ensures process reuse which is critical in reducing time to market.
NX 4 also continues UGS' commitment to offering customers the freedom to use their language of choice when developing custom applications. NX 4 delivers support for the Java programming language, ensuring that users can develop applications in the most suitable tool for their needs and providing a common framework to access NX core functionality. This open applications approach also allows companies to integrate NX applications with external systems, for example connecting to proprietary systems for cost management.
A series of industry and experience role-based user interface templates improve out-of-the-box usability in NX 4. Users can select their experience level and industry, and NX will display the most productive set of features for their selection. Companies can build their own screen layouts and icon maps based upon their needs to improve productivity when using NX.
2-D Layout is a new approach to concept design that is not offered by NX competitors. It enables users to rapidly create design schemes that can be enriched as the product evolves. This speeds innovation by bringing early conceptual layout into the integrated design process.
"UGS sustains a leadership position in the PLM industry because they consistently listen to their customers, make aggressive commitments -- and then honor those commitments by delivering innovative software solutions," said Ken Versprille, Ph.D., principle and PLM research director, Collaborative Product Development Associates LLC. "The theme of 'relentless innovation' is appropriate not only for the ability of NX 4 to help UGS customers produce innovative products but also for the way UGS develops software for the PLM industry."
Additional NX 4 features that are important to innovative product development include:
Standards: NX 4 delivers a new Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI) application that enables users to quickly annotate their 3-D models, adding necessary manufacturing information and non-graphical data. This improves productivity by allowing designers to communicate product information to manufacturing personnel without relying on a 2-D drawing. The PMI application embodies ASME Y14.41 and ISO 10 standards.
Data Management: NX 4 is linked more tightly to Teamcenter software so users can leverage advanced product structure tools, such as compositions that allow designers to combine multiple product structures into a virtual assembly for true context.
NC Programming and Tool Design: NX 4 offers further enhancements in general and high-speed milling, multi-function machine support, five- axis machining, and programming automation, all supported by enhanced machine tool simulation. NX enables customers to maximize the value of their advanced and most efficient machine tools. NX 4 adds a new tooling capability for Electrode Design for mold and die design customers.
Open Collaboration: NX 4 can use models produced by other CAD systems in the widely used JT data format and still maintain associativity. For example, NX 4 can create assembly constraints using JT-formatted components, and then if the JT component is changed, the assembly and mating conditions update automatically -- true multi-CAD assembly design.
This associativity also relates to machining. If the tool path created in NX 4 is linked to the JT model then any update to the original design can be fed through the NX and JT models and the toolpath will be automatically updated.
I attended a briefing on NX 4 last week and came away pretty impressed, although somewhat overwhelmed by the magnitude and sheer number of products associated with the announcement. Due to ship sometime late this year, UGS' NX4 really only has one competitor when it comes to breadth and depth of the product line from concept to design/engineering to tooling/machining. UGS says prices for NX 4 will remain the same when compared with NX 3.
One of the main themes that really struck me during the briefing and in this announcement is how UGS has brought and continues to bring not just a product orientation, but a process orientation, as well. On the product side, NX emphasizes simulation and validation for reducing risk and improving quality. On the process side, NX exploits repeatable processes to increase capacity and manages the product development environment with systems-level engineering tools. Combined, the product and process sides have the ability to automate the whole enchilada with knowledge-based and knowledge-driven methods and tools.
Although NX is obviously the flagship for UGS, the company also is supportive of its mid-market offering, Solid Edge. It seems that NX and Solid Edge have more of a symbiotic relationship than a competitive one. The two product lines are able to communicate bi-directionally, and this makes for an attractive proposition for not only huge enterprises, but small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), too. The company needs to get this message across, because although it has a pretty solid installed base, including a new contact with an aerospace company and an extension of its agreement with General motors, UGS has really got to start stressing its affordability, scalability, and value proposition to SMBs. There's only so many $billion+ companies out there, and I doubt many of that scale are anxious to switch PLM investments any time soon.
In the coming months we'll will be evaluating several of the NX 4 design and engineering modules, as well as Teamcenter, and JT, and will report back on our experiences.
The Week's Top 5At 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.
A New Book For Smart Engineers: SolidWorks For Dummies
This week SolidWorks affirmed its place in the product development mainstream with the release of "SolidWorks for Dummies" (Wiley Publishing, $29.99, Pub Date: September 12, 2005, ISBN: 0-7645-9555-5) written by Greg Jankowski. SolidWorks software 3D mechanical design software for the mainstream market, is the first 3D mechanical design offering to enter the "For Dummies" series, with the intent of expanding the 3D CAD community and transforming everyday users into power users. Written in the series' signature conversational style, "SolidWorks For Dummies" is suitable for seasoned users of AutoCAD, SolidWorks newcomers, as well as long-time SolidWorks users.
An interesting aside to this announcement is the fact that "SolidWorks for Dummies" was the best selling book on Amazon.com on Wednesday, September 14.
Lattice3D Launches New Versions Of 3D Publishing Suite
Lattice3D announced the immediate availability of the latest versions of its 3D Publishing applications and platform. Lattice3D Embed, Lattice3D Composer, and Lattice3D Publisher, increasing the ability of users to communicate, reduce costs and improve processes, instructions and provide enhanced training using 3D data. XVL Converter Scheduler and Manager turn Lattice3D software into a full enterprise 3D Publishing platform with automated workflow through the 3D Publishing applications to ensure business processes reflect updated 3D CAD files. This enables parts catalogues, web pages, manufacturing instructions, training manuals, etc. to be easily maintained. The latest versions add new functionality, extensibility, improved ease of use and are fully compatible with the recently launched new XVL Studio family of products. Collectively they enhance manufacturers' abilities to use, share, and repurpose 3D data.
SolidWorks Used To Design Award-Winning Wheelchair
California State University, Chico manufacturing technology students used SolidWorks Education Edition 3D mechanical design software to design a next-generation wheelchair that recently won the grand prize at the WESTEC Expo. The wheelchair's unique design uses pump-action levers for propulsion, three speeds for varying terrain, and disk brakes for stopping. The levers let wheelchair users more easily apply power to the chair, even if their grip is compromised by disability, and keep their hands off dirty wheels. Unlike previous lever-based prototypes, the Chico students' wheelchair levers are inboard of the wheels for better leverage and navigation through doorways.
Buell Motorcycle Co. Chairman Outlines His Industrial Design Vision At IDSA Event Sponsored By think3
Erik Buell, Chairman and CTO of Buell Motorcycle Co., described the unique challenges of designing motorcycles, and how he is implementing new design and technology applications during think3's recent annual Industrial Designers Society of America annual conference event. The challenge Buell presented is to build bikes derived from his heritage as a motorcycle racer that perform and are fun to ride. The best bike is the one developed for the person who's actually going to ride it, according to Buell, since most people don't ride on race tracks at 160 miles per hour. As a result, speed and specs are not the only criteria for judging a motorcycle. A premium must be placed on how the bike performs on the road.
Extreme Machines Uncovered -- College For Creative Studies Students Unveil Summer Automotive Design Models
Top automotive designers, steel industry representatives, and CCS faculty members had their senses ignited as three College for Creative Studies (CCS) transportation design students unveiled their extreme automotive designs for the 17th annual American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) summer automotive design internship. "Extreme Automotive" took control of the road as the theme for the AISI/CCS 2005 summer internship program. Drawing upon innovative steel technologies, Chris Piscitelli, Sylvian Bryan and Sang Hoon Shin took on the challenge to design a functional, innovative and extreme-inspired vehicle that integrates environmental responsibility, cost efficiency and advanced steel materials.The AISI/CCS internship tackles the challenges automakers encounter to design a vehicle that offers a lightweight steel structure and a flexible platform with attributes like affordability, fuel efficiency, and crashworthiness.
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.