Welcome to 2008

Well, here it is already – the new year. Last year gave us a number of events and developments that will strongly influence the MCAD arena for a number of years to come. The continued consolidation of the MCAD developer community through mergers and acquisitions was interestingly offset by a number of software product and service providers that launched. All in all, a good year. Some of the major events included:

Siemens Acquires UGS
This acquisition was without a doubt the biggest news for MCAD last year. Although less than a year into it, outwardly, things seem to be status quo with regard to UGS and its product development. It’s still way to early to tell how the acquisition will influence how things are done inside the company, or with its competitors, but it will be story that continues to unfold and will remain in the forefront of happenings in the MCAD world.

PTC Acquires CoCreate
PTC acquired CoCreate Software GmbH for broadening its MCAD portfolio. I find it a bit ironic that PTC, with its parametric legacy, would acquire a company whose design method goes counter to PTC’s, although it does illustrate a major trend occurring in the MCAD industry – a non-history-based methodology and direct editing -- CoCreate calls this Dynamic Modeling.

Dassault Acquires ICEM
Dassault Systemes announced that it was acquiring ICEM, a developer of styling, high-quality surface modeling and rendering applications. Dassault’s intent behind the acquisition was to extend CATIA’s presence in automotive styling communities. With this acquisition, ICEM has found a permanent home after changing hands a few times in the past several years. Since ICEM had increasingly based its product line on Dassault Systemes’ CAA V5 architecture that integrates it with CATIA, the acquisition was sort of “no brainer.”.

McEleney Steps Down At SolidWorks
In July, Dassault Systemes announced the appointment of Jeff Ray as CEO of SolidWorks. Previously COO, Ray replaced John McEleney. I’ve known John for a number of years and have come to know and respect him quite well. From the beginning, I have always found him to be one of the most personable and approachable people in the MCAD industry. John was also a “product guy,” meaning he could really talk about what his products could and could not do, because he could actually use the products himself. He is now a board member for Stratasys.

Space Claim Launches
There was a time when several major and minor MCAD products were launched, but the past few years have shown that those days are largely over. However, in March, a newcomer, SpaceClaim Corp. announced the launch of its flagship product, SpaceClaim Professional. Managed by a number of former PTC employees, the company has a tough row to hoe, but appears to be getting some attention and beginning to make some inroads.

Inventor LT
In May, Autodesk announced a technology preview release of Autodesk Inventor LT software as a free download from the Autodesk Labs site. While it does have some limitations, Inventor LT includes exactly the same 3D part modeling, import/export, rendering, and documentation capabilities available with the other members of the Autodesk Inventor product family. Inventor LT uses the same core technology and UI as Inventor 2008, and using DWG TrueConnect, is interoperable with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

With all that might happen, this coming year, we will continue to provide you with the news that you need to keep abreast of the ever-changing and evolving MCAD market. The content we provide will help you better understand this industry and how you can apply its methods and technologies to your advantage, and add to your bottom line.

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.

Sikorsky Aircraft Reduces CH-53K Helicopter Development Time With Right Hemisphere Software
Right Hemisphere announced that Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is implementing its Deep Server enterprise software to accelerate several product development and launch processes. Deep Server, which is part of the Right Hemisphere 5 visual communication and collaboration software platform, will automate the creation of lightweight 3D product graphics for key functional teams and suppliers to reference and leverage, saving Sikorsky critical development time and expense for the CH-53K helicopter program. In addition to supporting more effective cross-functional team meetings, Right Hemisphere's software will make Sikorsky's visual product information -- originally created by engineers using CATIA software -- accessible to non-engineers and subcontractors in more commonly used formats such as Adobe PDF and Microsoft PowerPoint. Right Hemisphere's software also directly supports Sikorsky's Model Based Definition (MBD) initiative, which is aimed at eliminating the need for conventional 2D drawings to communicate design intent. With Right Hemisphere's software tools, Sikorsky will be able to automatically translate Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) directly from CATIA models into 3D PDF documents.

Rock-Ola Makes Jukebox Designs Groove with SolidWorks
Bright lights, sleek design, precision craftsmanship, sweet tone, and the promise of listening to a song you haven't heard in years. These are the hallmarks of the classic Rock-Ola jukebox that has been a welcome sight and sound for more than 70 years. Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp. aims to continue building on its product's legend by creating even more innovative jukeboxes using SolidWorks. The company replaced 2D paper drafting with 3D modeling to push the limits of cool, hip, and classic jukebox designs. Rock-Ola standardized on SolidWorks to reduce design and prototyping cycles and streamline communication with suppliers. Design communication with Rock-Ola's suppliers is easy because SolidWorks can import component design files from suppliers regardless of the CAD format. This flexibility minimizes miscommunication that can lead to errors while accelerating component design. It also ensures manufacturers capture the geometry to make a good-looking, good-sounding machine.

GibbsCAM Support of STEP AP224 Demonstrated
Gibbs and Associates announced the completion of a collaborative effort in conjunction with South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) which allows GibbsCAM to read STEP Application Protocol 224 (AP224) files. STEP (for STandard for the Exchange of Product model data) AP224 is the foundation format within the STEP Manufacturing Suite of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This robust suite of STEP Application Protocols addresses the data requirements extending from product design through manufacturing engineering to machining using numerically controlled machine tools to final inspection. STEP AP224 specifically supports the transfer of manufacturable product information between design engineering and manufacturing engineering groups and includes both geometric and product manufacturing information, such as features with dimensions and tolerances. The STEP AP224 interface was implemented under funding from the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), a key client of SCRA. In the interest of improving overall operational efficiency and reducing deployment and maintenance expenses, various branches of the Department of Defense have been investing in STEP-based technologies. Today, a number of STEP formats are in use in various military maintenance depots throughout the United States. GibbsCAM's STEP AP224 interface reads the solid model contained in the AP224 file and then creates features which correspond to the features in the AP224 file. The Feature Manager can then be used to organize and manipulate the features within GibbsCAM. A feature selected in the Feature Manager listing is highlighted and the geometric faces within that feature can be passed as a group to various operations which are used for machining within GibbsCAM. For example, hole features can be selected as a group and then passed to GibbsCAM's Hole Manager for processing. The features' product manufacturing information contained in the AP224 file is also read into GibbsCAM and can be referenced by the user while creating their CNC program.

Stratasys Elects John McEleney to Board of Directors

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