Autodesk Acquires PlassoTech

Autodesk announced the acquisition of PlassoTech, a leading supplier of analysis and simulation software for the mechanical design market. The acquisition of PlassoTech will allow Autodesk to enhance the simulation and optimization capabilities found in Autodesk Inventor software making it easier than ever for customers to simulate, optimize and validate a complete digital prototype. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive and easy-to-use Digital Prototyping solution on the market," said Robert "Buzz" Kross, senior vice president of Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions. "The acquisition of PlassoTech will provide our customers with integrated simulation tools and sophisticated analysis functionality that complements their Digital Prototyping workflows."

Autodesk currently plans to integrate PlassoTech technology into the Inventor product family, augmenting existing finite element analysis (FEA) tools. The technology brings many distinct advantages to the Inventor product line, including:
  • The ability to perform analysis on entire assemblies, as well as individual parts
  • The ability to perform analysis based on real-world structural and thermal conditions
  • Advanced-ease-of use and performance superiority with a fully integrated simulation solution

    Specifically, PlassoTech technology allows FEA calculations in categories such as linear static stress, steady state thermal, thermal stress, modal and frequency analysis, optimization and buckling. It also includes advanced functionalities to test dynamic stress, transient thermal, and large deformation analysis of solid and shell models with various contact conditions.

    Hundreds of companies globally in industrial machinery, transportation, consumer products and building and plant equipment use PlassoTech technology including: Innoventa LLC, Jupp Associates Ltd., Mammoth Inc., Microheat, OSSTEM Co., Ltd, Pentax, Rinehart Motion Systems LLC, Sejong Industrial Company Ltd, Subaru Telescope, Telops and Tokyo Electron Limited.



    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor


    It’s been a couple of years since I paid much attention to PlassoTech Inc. That was, however, before the acquisition by Autodesk. Although the company and its technologies remained popular in Asia, and especially Japan, its presence and visibility here in North America dwindled. It literally dropped off of the radar screens of many, but Autodesk kept paying close attention because the two had formed an increasingly close relationship over the past few years. It was then primarily known for its 3G.Design Simulation/Optimization Suite that included a unique product called 3G.author.

    The product line was built on a collaborative backbone, and the 3G.Design Simulation/Optimization Suite 2004 provided a standalone, enterprise, and extended enterprise simulation, optimization, and communication solutions. It also offered bi-directional support, with peer-to-peer access, of CAD/CAE/PDM platforms including Inventor, Pro/Engineer, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, SmarTeam, NX, Parasolid, IGES, STEP, and SAT. The software also connected to other FEA programs, such as MSC.Nastran . With the acquisition, existing customers using CAD platforms other than Inventor will be supported, but that will ramp down in the near future, as Autodesk, not too surprisingly, will develop for and support only Inventor in the future.

    3G.author provides connectivity with Autodesk Inventor geometry “intelligence” from the sub-assembly level, including features and dimensions, that can dramatically simplify design optimization. Bi-directional associativity makes it possible for users to run fully adaptive, parametric-based structural, thermal and dynamic response simulations on Autodesk Inventor models.

    For users who aren't familiar with the UI, a Simulation Wizard guides them through the process of setting up the design for simulation, which can be a daunting task without the Wizard. This simulation setup process includes specifying the simulation type, selecting material properties, defining loads and boundary conditions and obtaining the results.

    Comprehensive contact capabilities for assembly analysis include separation between various parts with variable distances. Users can define arbitrary load distribution function on various parts of a given face. Web-based report generation allows the size/resolution of JPEG images to be changed and results can also be presented as an AVI that can be helpful in reviewing time response.

    This acquisition is one of several that Autodesk has made over past few years, and one that should fit in well with the company’s Digital Prototyping strategy. 3G.author distinguishes itself from other design analysis packages in a couple of different and significant ways. First, it can be used collaboratively as it creates virtual/digital prototype assemblies from component parts, and the results from multiple analyses can be written in spreadsheets for comparative studies. Second, because 3G.author has parametric capabilities, you can check a design's structural or thermal parameters and optimize the design without having to rerun analyses. Because of its ability to perform parametric simulation for validation and optimization, this is an interesting FEA product that does things a little differently than the competition and will likely prove a good acquisition with a positive result for Autodesk and Inventor.


    EDITOR’S NOTE: Comments and Corrections to Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 Review

    Last week we presented a brief review of our experience with Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8. Overall, we were impressed with what it could do, and the relative ease of use it exhibited for performing its functions.

    We were contacted by Adobe concerning a couple of items in the bulleted “Pros” and “Cons” list at the end of the review article, so we stand corrected. The comments that Adobe and an updated “Pros” and “Cons” bullet list follow.

    “First, reference the ‘Cons’ bullet – ‘Drawings cannot be imported.’ That's definitely a true statement as it relates specifically to ‘MCAD’ drawing formats, but not all drawing formats – for example, 2D DWG).”

    “Second is the ‘Cons’ bullet about security capabilities, which includes the line ‘For example, measure function cannot be disabled.’ In fact, Acrobat 3D users can disable measurement (as well as some other functions, such as cross-sectioning). By default, measurement is not available to Adobe Reader users who receive a 3D PDF file (it's only available when enabled by Acrobat 3D prior to distribution of the file). And it can be disabled for Acrobat or Acrobat 3D users who receive the file, as well. The person creating/distributing the file can go into the Secure tab in the product, choose Show Security Properties, choose Password Security under the Security Method pull-down, then click on the ‘Restrict editing and printing of the document . . .’ under Permissions, add a Change Permissions Password to the file, and save the file. If that's done, measurement should no longer be available to anyone who receives the file, whether they're running Acrobat 3D, Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

    In a nutshell, below are some of the (updated) aspects of Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 that we experienced:

    Pros
  • The ability to create and send a PDF of a model instead of model files containing intellectual property and/or proprietary information
  • The model PDF is read-only with the ubiquitous Acrobat Reader
  • Imports native SolidWorks, STEP, and Parasolid well
  • Section views
  • Level of output detail and accuracy can be set – U3D faceted (optimized performance) or PRC (greater tolerances and accuracy)
  • Measurement capabilities
  • Ability to export a solid from a PDF
  • Adding comments and marking-up models Model rotating, highlighting, and changing color
  • Rendering options


    Cons

  • Possible problems with large assemblies
  • MCAD drawings cannot be imported
  • Rotating models can be challenging
  • Zooming can fail if zoomed in too close
  • Some Parasolid imports placed parts in incorrect positions relative to origin of original model
  • Surfaces are sometimes imported when function is turned off
  • Relatively pricey - twice as expensive as Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional
  • 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.

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