August 16, 2004
Elysium Chosen To Handle CAD Interoperability Issues At Ford Motor Co.
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by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Elysium To Handle Global CAD Interoperability At Ford Motor Co.

Elysium Inc., a global provider of digital design data exchange software, announced that Ford Motor Co. has selected Elysium to enable a global CAD vision throughout all of Ford and its subsidiaries based on the Teamcenter product lifecycle management (PLM) portfolio from UGS.


"Globally dispersed and culturally diverse customers require the flexibility of a multi-CAD vision for PLM," said Steve Bashada, vice president of Teamcenter applications, UGS. "Teamcenter leads the industry with the depth and breadth of our CAD integrations, which enable an extended enterprise to leverage existing investments in CAD systems and data. Our relationship with Elysium further extends Teamcenter's multi-CAD capabilities to meet the business requirements of manufacturers worldwide."


Elysium is supplying and implementing CADporter software to translate CAD model geometry and CADpdm software to control updating and versioning, and manipulate attributes within the CAD file. Model geometry and the associated PDM metadata are extracted from the original CAD system where it can be completely defined in the target system including metadata consistent with the originating system. This combination of software enables UGS' Teamcenter, the corporate PLM standard at Ford, to manage and distribute complete primary and secondary CAD data for any part or assembly throughout Ford's extended enterprise. Ford currently utilizes UGS' I-deas and Dassault Systeme's CATIA V4 and CATIA V5
CAD systems.


"The ability to translate CAD model geometry has become almost common-place in industry," said Ken Tashiro, VP and COO, Elysium Inc. "Now we are seeing that product data management consistency is required to ensure that everyone involved in a project is referring to the same set of data. Not only is the CAD data required, but also the metadata and product structure has to be accurate and up-to-date."


Elysium's intellect enables an environment where any CAD data is available to the user in the native format. The company has been developing advanced translation tools for PDM attribute and metadata for the last 2 years, in concert with its robust 3D geometry data translation technologies. Elysium is a Foundation Partner in the global UGS Partner Program.


With the potpourri of CAD systems that Ford has in-house throughout its myriad departments and divisions worldwide, Elysium has its work cut out for it in the interoperability and PDM arena. The PDM twist adds an additional order of magnitude of potential challenge and complexity. Although, today, Ford primarily uses I-deas and CATIA (V4 and V5), I can't help but think that just about every major MCAD product is used in some small, hidden pocket somewhere in the company. I'll even venture to bet that Ford's legacy, home-grown system, PDGS, might still be used on occasion (probably an increasingly rare occasion, and probably something the company wouldn't openly admit). Founded in 1984, Elysium has been around the CAD interoperability game for a relatively long time. Its products bridge the gap between disparate CAD systems (CADporter) and enable PDM and product structure synchronization (CADpdm), as well as perform CAD model repair (CADdoctor). Elysium's CADporter translates geometry from one CAD system to another with what the company claims is the industry's highest success rate. Platforms supported bi-directionally include, ABAQUS/CAE, ACIS, CATIA, Inventor, UGS NX (I-deas and Unigraphics), Metrix Build!IT, One Space Designer, Horizon, JT, Parasolid, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, among other MCAD products. Yes, this is going to be quite an interesting challenge for
Elysium, and if they are successful, one that will likely carry it forward for many years to come.



New Right Hemisphere Technologies Advance 3D CAD Model Reuse Across Enterprise

Right Hemisphere, a provider of visual communication solutions software, advanced the state-of-the-art in computer graphics today by unveiling two new technologies for polygon reduction and real-world lighting effects. The company's new polygon reduction technology dramatically shrinks complex computer-aided design (CAD) data down to small, polygonal models of higher visual quality and lesser size than was previously possible. In internal testing, Right Hemisphere observed an improved reduction capability of up to 50 percent over existing optimization tools by employing its own reduction techniques. Another new Right Hemisphere technology, called Realight, mimics the effect of real-world
lighting conditions on 3D models. This takes real-time visualization to a new level of quality by removing the harsh computer-generated look and allowing users to more easily see critical functional and design aspects of a 3D model.


"The size of 3D models has always been a critical factor in determining the potential re-use of that CAD data for downstream applications," said Ken Versprille, Ph.D., a partner and PLM research director at Collaborative Product Development Associates, LLC. "Over the last two to three years, we've seen an increased executive focus on how to better plan out the full product development process upfront. Tools and technologies, like Right Hemisphere is bringing to market, offer an opportunity for greater reuse of CAD engineering assets in other parts of the enterprise by reducing the file size and format concerns to virtual non-issues. The end result is a more efficient way for enterprises to
develop, train, and market manufactured products over the lifespan of those products."


Both of Right Hemisphere's new technologies have been incorporated in its CADtools software, an easy-to-use module that unlocks CAD data from engineering departments for reuse across the entire enterprise. CADtools software optimizes 3D objects for display and manipulation, with minimal loss in visual definition. The module also includes tools for automating the creation of exploded view diagrams and animations, as well as a range of other 3D optimization tools. The CADtools Module is available for use with Right Hemisphere's enterprise software, Deep Server 1.8.


By significantly reducing the file size of 3D CAD data, Right Hemisphere's polygon reduction technology enables better, faster responsiveness to user interaction, as well as more fluid walkthroughs, faster downloads for web-based applications, and higher quality visual content.


"While other proprietary data types exist, polygonal models are by far the most easily re-used 3D data type," said Mark Thomas, president and founder of Right Hemisphere. "It is, however, critical to make polygonal data as optimized as possible to get the widest range of re-use opportunities. Right Hemisphere's new polygonal reduction technology enables a wide range of applications that were previously impossible or impractical due to file size limitations. With our approach, you can now realistically display an entire engineering assembly -- such as a bulldozer -- as a 3D web object and at levels of visual quality never seen before."


Non-engineering users are often critical of the unnatural and sometimes "harsh" look of CAD computer graphics. Traditional real-time rendering of CAD and other 3D data is done using very crude lighting models that do not provide the contrast and detail definition needed for complex shapes and components. Right Hemisphere's Realight rendering technology achieves a more natural, higher quality rendering by changing the way the lighting is calculated.


Though Realight rendering changes the way that lighting is calculated, it remains compatible with most common visualization and rendering tools, including Right Hemisphere's own Deep View 3D viewer for Web and Microsoft Office applications. This compatibility makes it ideal for use in visualization applications where understanding the true shape and form of objects is required. For example, an online 3D parts catalog must enable users to quickly identify subtle, visual differences in parts or components. In additional to online parts catalogs, Realight can be used for technical documentation, 3D computer-based training, and virtual reality applications. Working hand-in-hand with Right
Hemisphere's polygon reduction technology in the CADtools Module, Realight is well-suited to any application that requires both optimal quality and file size efficiency.


The creation of Realight textures for models is an easy one-step process that can be done on a per model basis via Right Hemisphere's client tools. It can also be fully automated and controlled using Right Hemisphere's Deep Server enterprise 3D processing engine to create Realight rendering en-masse for entire 3D model databases.


"The true value of 3D data previously trapped in engineering departments can only be effectively realized through the widespread adoption of 3D viewing technologies," Thomas continued. "Right Hemisphere's mission is to lower the cost and raise the quality of the 3D experience. We aim to make 3D a more natural, accessible, and pleasurable experience for all users so that companies may multiply the value of their CAD assets."


While there are a number of companies that develop and market products for reusing (or repurposing - I hate that term) CAD data for tasks above and beyond the design and engineering team, Right Hemisphere provides what I'll term "high-end" visual communication technologies that are versatile in the many ways they can transform and re-use visual data. The products are offered individually or in task-specific bundles, such as Right Hemisphere lets non-engineering staff re-use engineering data in visual communication applications such as training, documentation, product demonstrations, marketing, and support. The company's Deep Server
software minimizes tedious manual processes with ones that are automated, open, and scalable that make interactive 2D and 3D content for communicating technical information, marketing highlights, support procedures, or complex concepts. These technologies exploit investments and efforts in engineering design to increase sales; cut documentation, support and training costs; and accelerate product development cycles. Both Right Hemisphere's new polygon reduction and Realight technologies will be featured additions in the company's new CADtools Module release in September.


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