Siemens PLM Software announced the latest release of NX software, the company’s flagship digital product development solution. With NX 7.0, Siemens PLM Software introduces HD3D, an open and intuitive visual environment to help global product development teams unlock the value of PLM information and significantly enhance their ability to make efficient and effective product decisions. In addition, NX 7.0 includes enhancements to synchronous technology – the widely acclaimed computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering analysis (CAD/CAM/CAE) productivity software introduced by Siemens PLM Software last year – that will further accelerate a variety of product development tasks and expand the unmatched ability of NX to effectively work with data from third party CAD applications.
The announcement of NX 7.0 was made in Paris at the Siemens PLM Connection Europe annual users’ conference.
“Our introduction of synchronous technology and its implementation into NX earned high praise, not only from the vast majority of CAD/CAM/CAE pundits and industry analysts, but more importantly from the companies that deployed it to boost their design productivity,” said Joan Hirsch, vice president of Product Design Solutions, Siemens PLM Software. “Today’s launch of NX 7.0 builds on that productivity leadership with the addition of significant new synchronous technology functionality, and the exciting introduction of HD3D, an innovative environment that will accept data from a variety of sources to set a new standard for ‘High-Definition’ visual analytics in product development.”
Globalization and an escalating regulatory environment, coupled with the increasing sophistication of virtually all manufactured products, has created a complex product development process for companies worldwide. Hundreds of decisions need to be made throughout product development based on information that exists in a variety of formats and locations, and usually created by software applications from multiple vendors. The speed and accuracy with which those decisions can be made has a profound effect on a company’s success.
“A natural and effective way to address these obstacles is to use visual information as a way to communicate across barriers and level the playing field for all participants,” said Joe Barkai, Practice Director of Product Lifecycle Strategies for IDC Manufacturing Insights. “A collaborative decision-making process and visually-assisted tools that support it are essential for expeditious, informed and reliable decisions. Using these tools will facilitate better communication and understanding, and increase the fidelity of informed decisions across the enterprise.”
The introduction of HD3D in NX 7.0 is part of Siemens PLM Software’s comprehensive approach to achieving this vision and establishing a new paradigm in visual analytics. HD3D is a visually-rich environment for working with virtually any type of PLM data. This environment will be common across NX and Teamcenter® software, Siemens PLM Software’s industry-leading digital lifecycle management portfolio, and its open architecture will also allow for integration with a variety of third-party applications.
HD3D expands the power of NX and Teamcenter to visually deliver the information companies need to understand, collaborate, and make decisions in today's globally distributed and heterogeneous product development environments. HD3D provides a simple and intuitive way to collect, collate and present product information, where it can be immediately applied in critical decision-making. The implementation of HD3D in NX 7.0 will enable users to visually interrogate and evaluate a product design based on any type of data tracked in Teamcenter or NX, such as release status, weight thresholds, material type, delivery status, etc.
For example, an NX 7.0 user could run a report looking for parts that are currently in development and registered as on-schedule or late. The 3D NX model of the product will visually highlight all of the parts that are more than one week late and a cause for concern. Interactive tags are displayed on the screen and can be selected to navigate into more detailed information. With potentially thousands of parts in a given product, this visual feedback and interactive work environment eliminates the need to sort through written bills-of-materials and status reports to manually interpret where issues exist and what action to take.
In addition to this visual analytics capability based on PLM data, HD3D will be implemented within NX 7.0 Check-Mate, a standards-based checking application that ensures compliance with design criteria, consistency in CAD model file structure and adherence to a variety of corporate and industry standards. HD3D will enhance validation tools within Check-Mate with a new visual user interface for analyzing and reporting issues. Similar to the above example, the new environment improves decision making during product validation by providing an intuitive, visual means of viewing Check-Mate results and evaluating issues.
Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director for industry analyst firm CPDA, refers to synchronous technology as, “one of the most important, groundbreaking technical advancements in 3D solid modeling in over twenty years.” NX 7.0 builds on its strong leadership position in modeling flexibility and productivity with further enhancements to synchronous technology aimed at greater efficiency, enhanced reuse of legacy data and expanded interoperability with multiple third party CAD systems.
Synchronous technology enhancements include:
- Faster geometry creation and editing tools further accelerate a variety of tasks associated with creating and modifying designs. Design intent is applied and preserved at the time of change and reliable editing eliminates update failures and long replay times.
- Powerful new synchronous pattern capability removes the need to understand the original creation approach when working with legacy CAD models and expanded capabilities for cut, copy, paste and mirror further improve productivity. This makes it easier to adapt new designs from older models and saves significant time and expense through improved reuse of design data.
- New “clean-up” tools enable faster and easier editing of models imported from third-party CAD systems. Automatic and semi-automatic blend and chamfer recognition builds and maintains relationships for two of the most common manufacturing features, while automatic and manual healing options along with the ability to merge segmented geometry removes unwanted gaps and fixes mismatched geometry.
The synchronous technology enhancements in NX 7.0 impact all aspects of CAD/CAM/CAE. In addition to its obvious affect on productivity for product designers, the new functionality significantly benefits other members of the development team working with CAD data, including analysts and manufacturing engineers. These individuals primarily work with 3D models created by someone else and often times using a third-party CAD application.
Synchronous technology opens up a range of new opportunities for CAE and CAM users to directly leverage CAD geometry from any source. The easy to use interface in NX 7.0 enables these users to easily modify 3D models for their specific requirements, enabling them to add value by focusing on their respective areas of expertise. The combination of NX and synchronous technology establishes a new modeling paradigm throughout the product lifecycle.
“We replaced our previous 3D CAD system with NX because of its superior ability to enable easy and flexible manipulation of non-parametric geometry,” said Markus Pichler, Product Development Manager, BWT AG. “We believe the enhanced synchronous technology capabilities in NX 7.0, with its new geometry healing options, will further extend our ability to rapidly edit legacy and third-party CAD data, creating enormous time savings and further streamlining our supply chain.”
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
Even with tons of competition out there, NX is still considered one of the “heavyweights” in the MCAD arena. In standalone mode, core NX is a formidable and comprehensive competitor. Add in the myriad modules available for NX, and you’re in a position to accomplish just about anything you can literally imagine related to mechanical/mechatronic design, engineering, manufacturing, and related business workflows and processes.
Surprisingly, with NX 7.0, Siemens didn’t do its usual pre-release and launch media blast as has occurred with total predictability in the past. It’s not that 7.0 is any less significant than pervious releases, it was just curious that the company seems to have chosen a quieter approach for this time around. Especially curious, because with the state of the general economy (as well as the MCAD buying public), you would think a major software/product line release would prompt more marketing noise. I wasn’t made aware of a live demo (that’s quickly becoming a thing of the past anyway) or even a WebEx surrounding NX 7.0’s launch, so how times have changed.
From the people I talked with, the brightest highlights of NX 7.0 are the extension of synchronous technology (a bandwagon that seemingly all MCAD competitors have or are trying to jump on) and a somewhat nebulous technology that Siemens has termed HD3D. Nebulous? “With NX 7, Siemens PLM Software introduces HD3D, a more efficient and effective technology for unlocking the value of PLM information. HD3D is your visual dashboard for product development.” You be the judge.
From what I can gather HD3D stands for high-definition 3D. HD3D seems to be a type of bridge technology that works between NX and Teamcenter for delivering visual information for project collaboration purposes. Siemens says that HD3D provides a simple and intuitive way to collect, collate and present information. It provides visual reporting of Teamcenter-managed data, directly in the 3D product development environment, where it can be applied for making decisions. HD3D formats 3D part, component, and assembly models to answer inquiries, with color-coding, on-screen tagging and legends for fast visual assessment and interpretation.
Touted as an alternative to navigating and processing lists of attribute data and manually correlating them to 3D product models, HD3D lets you visually display and understand PLM data with interactive navigation, and drill down to details as needed. Viewing the product’s 3D representation, you are able to answer questions about project status, design changes, team responsibilities, issues, problems, cost, suppliers and other attributes.
HD3D works with NX Check-Mate validation checking tools, providing direct visual interaction for finding and fixing quality problems. You can monitor critical functional requirements throughout development, with visually rich feedback that allows you to quickly understand, navigate to, and resolve quality issues.
I’m still a little confused about exactly what HD3D is, how it works, and how it’s used, but I’ll delve into this in more detail in an upcoming issue of MCADCafe Weekly.
Now on to something a bit more tangible, synchronous technology that brings together constraint-driven and history-free modeling . . .
In the spring of 2008 Siemens PLM Software announced not just a new feature or capability set, but a new CAD methodology that it claimed to be the biggest MCAD breakthrough in a decade called synchronous technology. At the time, the announcement was actually more speculative than a true demonstration, but nonetheless, from the beginning, the concept and its implications were pretty intriguing. Synchronous technology that forms the basis for synchronous modeling were integrated into the then-newest versions of Siemens’ MCAD products – NX and Solid Edge. Using NX and Solid Edge as vehicles, Siemens PLM Software became the latest MCAD company to tout the advantages of non-history-based design methods. However, NX had a notable difference with the way synchronous technology was implemented and used in both history and history-free modes.
The two modeling modes – history and history-free – let you take advantage of the benefits of each – sort of a best of both worlds sort of thing. The two modeling modes and the ability to switch between them are what set NX apart, however, Synchronous Technology works in either of the modeling modes. Because you can use both modes in NX , you might find that the history-free mode is well-suited for the conceptual stage of a design and the history mode well-suited for the refinement stages of a design.
In history mode, you create and edit models using an ordered sequence of features that are displayed in the Part Navigator. This mode is most useful for parts that are highly engineered. It is also useful for parts that will be modified using predefined parameters based on the design intent built in to their sketches, features, and feature order used to model the parts.
History-free mode is an environment where linear history is not accumulated and there are no features to replay. In history–free mode, it’s important to remember that the Part Navigator has no timestamp order and expressions are created for commands that produce local features. There is no feature update or playback available (because there is no history), there is no rollback available (although Undo is available), and an assembly can include parts with and without history.
In history-free mode, you create and edit models based on their current state without an ordered sequence of features – only local features without a sequential structure are created. Local features are unique because they are created and stored in history-free mode. Modifying a local feature affects only the local geometry without the need to update and replay a global feature tree. This is one of the primary reasons that local features can be edited much quicker than features in history mode. Synchronous modeling is also what lets you create geometry that adapts to a changing design context.
In NX you can change the design mode between history and history-free, however, due to the differences between the two modes data unique to each mode is removed when the mode is changed. For example, when changing from history mode to history-free mode history data is deleted, including feature data. Geometry remains in its current state but features are removed, similar to using the Remove Parameters command. However, features that are local features are retained, so features such as holes and blends remain as holes blends, but become local features.
Specific synchronous modeling commands are used to modify a model, regardless of its origins, associativity, or feature history. A model can be imported from other CAD systems, neutral formats (IGES and STEP), non-associative, with no features, or it could be a native NX or Solid edge model with features. Synchronous modeling lets you use parametric features without the problems arising from feature history by working directly with a model that virtually eliminates time spent rebuilding or converting geometry. In short, if you have a parametric model that you want to edit quickly, use synchronous techniques in history mode.
I have found that synchronous modeling is best suited for models composed of analytic faces, such as plane, cylinder, cone, sphere, and torus. This does not necessarily mean simple, geometrically primitive parts, since models with literally thousands of faces can be composed of these analytic face types. A deficiency that I noted in NX 6 was that synchronous modeling did not work well with blends that would be found in cast or molded parts, but the company addressed this deficiency and now works well when converting imported B-rep surfaces to rolling-ball blend faces.
NX 7.0 provides the option to create parameterized features when using history-free modeling with holes, edge blends, and chamfers. With this option, the feature parameters are maintained so that the geometry can be changed later with parameter inputs. The ability to move faces has been enhanced in NX 7.0 to operate simultaneously with multiple component faces in assemblies. Several of the face editing commands have been improved with an option that simplifies selection of faces that are offset from each other. This capability recognizes thickness (for example, ribs) in thin-walled sheet metal and plastic parts – a big deal in synchronous modeling.
NX 7.0 provides for better positioning and maintaining design intent in synchronous mode because it adds dimension locking and fixed constraints to prevent changes in feature size or position. A new command adds a 3D fixed constraint to selected faces for establishing a desired behavior. Linear, angular, and radial dimensions now include a locking option in history-free mode. These tools add design rules to models that have no history or parametric behavior.
Synchronous modeling has been somewhat controversial since it was first announced and has endured considerable scrutiny by a broad spectrum of people ranging from users to pundits. There is yet no consensus on synchronous modeling, but everybody seems to have an opinion – some well-founded, some misleading. Admittedly, this is the first release that employs synchronous technology. Its implementation is a good start to capabilities that will only become more comprehensive over time (and I mean relatively quickly based on conversations I have had with the company). While it does share some characteristics of competing history-free MCAD applications, even at this early stage it also offers several unique capabilities.
By itself, NX has been a very capable MCAD application for a number of releases, and enhanced synchronous technology and modeling techniques make NX 7.0 another significant release. As I noted earlier, out of the box, the core package is well-rounded and versatile, and there are a large number of optional modules available for handling virtually aspects of CAD, CAM, CAE, and PLM. NX 7.0 is one the most comprehensive packages out there, with “heavy duty” solvers and a user interface that continues to improve. The continued enhancement of synchronous modeling and the range of optional modules make NX 7.0 a good choice for complex mechanical and mechatronic design that you are unlikely to outgrow.
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.
SolidWorks Helps Design that Matters Create Low-Cost, Low Maintenance Infant Incubator for Third World
The next step after designing a product is usually manufacturing it – unless you’re Design that Matters (DtM). The non-profit social development organization has designed a low-cost infant incubator not for production, but to prove it’s possible to create affordable, low-maintenance incubators for Third World countries. DtM used SolidWorks as its design platform to assemble a national team of 50 professional engineers and engineering students from MIT, the Rhode Island School of Design, Stanford University, and Arizona State University. DtM challenged the team to design an incubator from automotive components, because they are available even in the poorest regions of the world. DtM’s biggest challenges were adapting automotive parts to a new purpose and fitting all of the components into a form factor small enough to transport to remote locations. The engineers and students modified parts and designed assemblies in SolidWorks. Then they distributed the 3D models over e-mail to each other and DtM. Design that Matters reconciled the team’s contributions into a final design, then demonstrated it to potential users. SolidWorks enabled DtM to show the incubator design to potential users all over the world without the expense of transporting a physical prototype.
MagnaFlow Uses Autodesk Inventor to Improve Engine Efficiency, Reduce Emissions
MagnaFlow, a leading manufacturer of high-performance exhaust systems and catalytic converters, uses Autodesk Inventor to develop automotive components that not only help engines operate more efficiently and consume less fuel, but also reduce the amount of toxic emissions that are released into the environment. For helping reduce the overall environmental impact of automobiles, MagnaFlow was recognized as the Autodesk Inventor of the Month for September 2009. The company's exhaust systems boost engine performance by expelling exhaust gases quicker than a standard exhaust system. This creates less workload for the engine, making it run more efficiently. The company's catalytic converters help to reduce the toxicity of exhaust emissions by converting carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into less harmful substances, such as carbon dioxide or water. MagnaFlow also uses Autodesk Showcase visualization software.
Siemens PLM Software Purchases Rulestream Engineer-To-Order (ETO) Software Technology and Brand Assets
Siemens PLM Software announced the purchase of the Rulestream software technology and brand assets, an engineer-to-order (ETO) software application for streamlining the business processes associated with custom-built products. Siemens PLM Software will offer the solution to its customers under the Rulestream brand name and assume full responsibility for ongoing software development and support. ETO business processes are employed by a large and growing number of manufacturing industry segments, including power generation, HVAC, fluid flow technologies, heavy equipment, machinery, and the automotive and aerospace supply base. The increasing demand for customized or customer-specific product configurations creates a common set of challenges for these companies. There is constant competitive pressure for ETO manufacturers to increase the number, accuracy and win rate of their bids, while reducing order engineering lead time and optimizing resource utilization in manufacturing. Through ongoing software enhancements and support, Siemens PLM Software will continue to build business value for both current and future Rulestream customers. The addition of Rulestream to the Siemens PLM Software product line will reinforce and augment the investments made in Rules Based Design and Knowledge Based Engineering through the NX and Teamcenter application suites. For more information: www.siemens.com/plm/rulestream.
Verisurf Selected by Spacex as Exclusive Provider of Metrology Software
Verisurf Software announced it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). Under the agreement, Verisurf will become SpaceX’s software standard for real time information regarding surface variance on composite tooling, to perform crucial final acceptance inspection, and to create surface deviation reports for the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, as well as the Dragon spacecraft programs. SpaceX cited Verisurf’s ease of use, proven industry experience and leadership in expanding the use of 3D CAD data into complex aerospace assembly and inspection processes as the reasons for the exclusive agreement. SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station.
Hexagon Metrology Acquires Leading Vision Metrology Company
Hexagon Metrology announced that it has acquired all the outstanding assets and technical intellectual property of Mahr Multisensor GmbH. Hexagon Metrology will reorganize the business, and has agreed to employ certain technical service, development and application engineering staff from Mahr Multisensor GmbH. The vision business unit and products will be integrated into Hexagon Metrology, the world’s largest industrial measurement group, incorporating the leading industry brands Brown & Sharpe, CE Johansson, CimCore, CogniTens, DEA, Leica Geosystems (Metrology Division), Leitz, m&h Inprocess Messtechnik, PC-DMIS, ROMER, Sheffield and TESA. “This acquisition will further enhance our worldwide product offering in multisensor vision technology and confirms Hexagon Metrology’s commitment to offer the widest range of measuring systems for all industrial applications,” said William Gruber, CEO and President of Hexagon Metrology.
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at Email Contact or 408.850.9230.
Siemens PLM Software Delivers NX 7.0 With HD3D And Enhancements to Synchronous Technology
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