May 17, 2004
MCAD Product Review Update
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor


by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

MCAD Product Review Update

The comparative review of mid-range MCAD products that we announced a couple of weeks ago products continues to be formulated with regard to guidelines, parameters, features and capabilities to evaluate, and just the logistics of installing and objectively evaluating several competing products. This comparative review has also prompted a large response from both readers and vendors.


The products that will be reviewed and compared include:
  • Alibre Design Expert (Alibre Design 7.0)
  • Autodesk Inventor 9
  • Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0
  • Solid Edge V15 or V16
  • SolidWorks 2005
  • VX Designer 10
  • The products will first be reviewed individually and then compared and contrasted collectively. The goal here is not to necessarily declare an ultimate winner so much as present an objective evaluation of each of the products' relative strengths and weaknesses. This endeavor is quite an undertaking and will take place over the coming weeks and months.


    We intend to use the various MCAD tools to take a product from concept through production, in a process that might include design, FEA, PDM, mold core and cavity, sheetmetal, etc. Possibly even produce physical parts via rapid prototyping. We'll cover installation, getting to know the products, using the products, dealing with technical support, and other areas that we are still determining. We'll also establish a budget for accomplishing the design tasks with core products and add-ons (if available and required).


    Although we have a preliminary idea about what will be evaluated, we are asking you, the readers, what types of tasks do you want to see performed and evaluated? These tasks should be ones that you perform (or at least try to perform), as well as ones that you can't perform, but would like to. In other words, what's important to you? Let us know by emailing me at
    Email Contact or calling at 408-850-9230.



    According To Industry Report, Stratasys Leads Market In Rapid Prototyping Units Shipped In 2003

    Stratasys announced it has attained the market leader position in terms of units shipped within the rapid prototyping (RP) industry, according to the recently issued Wohlers Report 2004. Published by Wohlers Associates, Inc. and released last week at the annual Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing Conference & Exposition in Dearborn, Michigan, the report offers a detailed review and analysis of the RP industry.


    According to the report, Stratasys shipped 37 percent of all RP units shipped in 2003, up from the 31 percent reported in 2002. The company shipped 48 percent of all RP units shipped by U.S. manufacturers in 2003. The report also states that as of the end of 2003, Stratasys has the highest global installed base of RP systems, surpassing its competitors for the first time.


    "Low-end machine sales soared to unprecedented heights in 2003, with 3D printers becoming the crown jewel of the RP industry," said Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates. "Stratasys has experienced significant unit growth with its leading family of 3D printers, and with the number of installed 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) workstations growing nearly 66 percent to approximately five million in 2003, there continues to be significant promise for companies like Stratasys and the fast-growth 3D printing market."


    According to the report, the entire RP industry, which includes equipment and services, grew to $529 million in 2003, up from $484 million in 2002. The report states the industry is expected to grow to $586 million in 2004 and $655 million in 2005. Additionally, the report states users of RP systems produced an estimated 4.8 million models and prototype parts in 2003, up from 4 million produced in 2002.


    "We are excited about the strong growth of the RP and 3D printing markets reported in Wohlers Report 2004," said Scott Crump, chairman and chief executive officer of Stratasys. "While we continue to meet customer needs at the high end of the RP market, our revolutionary-priced family of 3D printers continues to drive unprecedented growth for Stratasys at the low end. We believe we are positioned for strong growth in 2004 as we further establish ourselves as the market leader."


    The sales numbers that Stratasys has enjoyed are great for them, but not too surprising if you follow the RP industry, especially the 3D printing segment of the RP industry. A few years ago, Stratasys set the RP industry on its ear when it introduced its Dimension 3D Printer for a then-unheard of price of $29,000. Today, the machine starts at $24,900. Dimension builds parts with acrylnitrile butadene styrene (ABS) that have used for functional and field tests, and has produced parts with operating pressures of up to 60 psi. Although there is little if any post-processing required, the ABS parts produced by Dimension can be sanded, milled, drilled, tapped, painted, and electro-plated.
    Another nice aspect of the Dimension is the fact that it can be used in an office environment, since it does not use toxic materials or produce noxious fumes that require venting and/or special handling.


    On another note, if you are at all involved with RP or are thinking about getting involved with it, the Wohlers Report 2004 is an indispensable guide to the ins and outs, technologies, and trends taking place in the RP industry. The report's author, Terry Wohlers, extensively revises each edition, so it's a good value as an annual purchase.



    IBM's New Software Model For Building, Deploying, And Managing Applications And Data

    IBM has outlined a new middleware software-based model that brings together the qualities of Web-based computing and traditional PC desktop environments, providing customers with a single, more flexible and secure way to access, share, and manage business applications and data.


    IBM's new server-managed client model enables customers to centrally manage, provision, and deploy key business applications and data to a range of client devices as needed -- from traditional desktops and laptops to a range of more limited devices such as shop-floor terminals, PDAs, and cell phones. Using new software component technologies, IBM is combining the low total cost of ownership and immediate deployment qualities of web applications with the rich functionality of traditional PC software. As a result, customers will no longer have to deal with separate and distinct applications on the Web and their desktop PCs -- receiving the benefits of a single model of client computing.


    In addition, IBM's software model enables businesses to manage a wide variety of client devices -- from desktops and laptops to PDAs, cell phones and embedded systems -- and extends access to new and existing applications and data to these devices. As a result, people can use virtually any client device they choose -- across a wide range of operating systems -- to collaborate with people and access and manage key business information and applications whenever and wherever they need it. This supports the emerging environment in which people want to use several different client devices throughout their work day -- with devices in both connected and disconnected modes at any given time -- to
    access key information, use business applications and collaborate with co-workers, customers and business partners.


    IBM's open middleware is designed to support clients running Windows, UNIX, Linux, and operating systems for wireless and embedded devices such as Symbian. Support for MacOS will be available later this year. In addition, IBM's model for managing clients is inclusive as it supports a wide range of applications running on "thick" clients -- such as desktops running applications -- protecting customers' investments in these resources.


    IBM's new software environment includes Lotus Workplace software to help customers collaborate more productively using a variety of integrated, server-managed productivity functions for e-mail, instant messaging, document management, and team collaboration; Tivoli software to centrally administer thousands of clients, including client access, setup and updates as well as provisioning computing resources to clients when needed; WebSphere Portal software to provide a single point of personalized interaction with people, applications and content; and built-in, server-managed security, workflow, and application and data management capabilities. According to IBM, the Workplace software can help
    lower total cost of ownership by enabling organizations to centrally deploy and manage messaging and document management function to the most appropriate client or different types of users.


    Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition is the new Workplace Micro Environment (WCTME) software (version 5.7) that extends enterprise applications to a wide variety of devices. Middleware that comprises device versions of IBM enterprise software, such as DB2e, MQe, Service Management Framework and Java runtime environments, WCTME 5.7 enables a link between devices and an enterprise. This makes it easier for enterprises, developers, and manufacturers to build and configure function-rich applications on devices, as well as manage, update, and install new services remotely and wirelessly. In addition, the software
    enables the management of applications in an environment (for example, a mobile sales force) in which devices are not connected to a network all the time. The WCTME software enables access to business applications whether devices are connected, disconnected or sometimes-connected - and then synch up later.


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    To read more news, click here.



    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.




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