September 19, 2005
UGS Launches NX 4 With Emphasis On Product And Process
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Corp. announced Version 4 of NX software, the latest release of the company's comprehensive software solution for digital product development. Building on its industry-leading ability to capture knowledge and simulate performance throughout the product development process, NX 4 includes hundreds of customer-driven enhancements that improve manufacturers' ability to differentiate their products and to transform their process of innovation.

"Companies often look for that one 'big idea' that will produce the next killer product," said Peter Marks, managing director, Design Insight. "However my research shows that the world's leading companies continually -- relentlessly -- search for ways to better satisfy their customers. Looking at it from the customer's perspective, there are at least eight things customers care about; and their perceptions change at least four times over a product life cycle. What's gratifying to see in NX is the attention to detail, from improved design and simulation through tools for knowledge capture, that are needed to support a strategy of relentless innovation."

NX enables relentless innovation at Dyson

With more than $10 billion in revenue generated last year from the sale of vacuum cleaners, Dyson is an industry leader with long-term staying power. Dyson is dedicated to innovation as evidenced by hundreds of patents per design. Utilizing NX throughout its product development process, the company has revolutionized vacuum cleaning with constant innovations that keep it well ahead of the competition.

"Dyson's philosophy is closely tied to our ability to challenge existing technologies and to come up with new innovations and designs," said John Myers, CAD systems manager, Dyson. "NX helps support this culture of innovation with its powerful design technology that takes much of the effort out of producing detailed 3D models, performing digital simulations and creating rapid prototypes."

Customer-focused enhancements benefit NX and I-deas users

By placing a high value on its customers' input, UGS has added rich, new functionality throughout NX 4 and significantly enhanced its data migration capabilities to enable a faster and more efficient transition for users moving from I-deas NX Series.

"NX 4 continues to lead the market in delivering highly productive, advanced technology for digital product development," said Chuck Grindstaff, executive vice president, Products, UGS. "This release delivers hundreds of innovative enhancements in product styling, design, analysis, simulation and manufacturing, enabling new approaches to creating innovative products. In addition, NX 4 delivers on UGS' promise to our I-deas customer base to help speed their transition to NX by including enhanced data migration tools."

"I am very impressed with UGS on its ongoing commitment and progress in merging the I-deas and Unigraphics communities into its NX product," said David Pence, system specialist, Goodrich Wheel and Brakes. "NX 4 beta software is as easy to use as midrange CAD packages while still offering advanced functionality."

New features promote innovation throughout product development

NX 4 helps manufacturers in their pursuit of innovation in four key categories -- digital simulation, knowledge capture, usability and systems engineering. Each of these areas includes new functionality that serves as a digital tool to help individuals relentlessly pursue innovations throughout product development.
Digital Simulation
NX 4 introduces many advanced CAE capabilities into NX. This functionality is essential for PLM and provides scalable analysis to support innovation. NX 4 includes design simulation tools for use by designers as well as the highest-performance simulation for the dedicated engineering analysis specialist. Advanced analysis capabilities benefit from the open and productive NX usability paradigm. New, integrated CFD and thermal analysis applications have been proven in applications that range from space satellite design to consumer electronics and automotive packaging studies. NX 4 also expands on the access to the broad analysis capabilities in NX Nastran, as well as third-party solvers
like ABAQUS and ANSYS as part of UGS' "Open by Design" strategy. NX Nastran is an important part of UGS' overarching digital simulation strategy to enable customers to implement their own best practices and increase simulation's influence on design.

Knowledge Capture
NX 4 includes enhancements to DesignLogic that include a pre-packaged library of common engineering functions. DesignLogic improves innovation and productivity by giving engineers the ability to embed product knowledge into the design that can be leveraged throughout the design iteration process.

In addition to design focused knowledge, manufacturing process knowledge can be captured by using the new Manufacturing Wizard Builder. Built upon the core Process Studio technologies introduced in NX 3, Manufacturing Wizard Builder allows companies to capture common manufacturing processes in a simple workflow environment. The system then automates the process of building a "wizard," or automated program, which can be published for every user. This approach allows companies to streamline manufacturing processes and ensures process reuse which is critical in reducing time to market.

NX 4 also continues UGS' commitment to offering customers the freedom to use their language of choice when developing custom applications. NX 4 delivers support for the Java programming language, ensuring that users can develop applications in the most suitable tool for their needs and providing a common framework to access NX core functionality. This open applications approach also allows companies to integrate NX applications with external systems, for example connecting to proprietary systems for cost management.

A series of industry and experience role-based user interface templates improve out-of-the-box usability in NX 4. Users can select their experience level and industry, and NX will display the most productive set of features for their selection. Companies can build their own screen layouts and icon maps based upon their needs to improve productivity when using NX.

Systems Engineering
2-D Layout is a new approach to concept design that is not offered by NX competitors. It enables users to rapidly create design schemes that can be enriched as the product evolves. This speeds innovation by bringing early conceptual layout into the integrated design process.

"UGS sustains a leadership position in the PLM industry because they consistently listen to their customers, make aggressive commitments -- and then honor those commitments by delivering innovative software solutions," said Ken Versprille, Ph.D., principle and PLM research director, Collaborative Product Development Associates LLC. "The theme of 'relentless innovation' is appropriate not only for the ability of NX 4 to help UGS customers produce innovative products but also for the way UGS develops software for the PLM industry."

Additional NX 4 features that are important to innovative product development include:
Standards: NX 4 delivers a new Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI) application that enables users to quickly annotate their 3-D models, adding necessary manufacturing information and non-graphical data. This improves productivity by allowing designers to communicate product information to manufacturing personnel without relying on a 2-D drawing. The PMI application embodies ASME Y14.41 and ISO 10 standards.

Data Management: NX 4 is linked more tightly to Teamcenter software so users can leverage advanced product structure tools, such as compositions that allow designers to combine multiple product structures into a virtual assembly for true context.

NC Programming and Tool Design: NX 4 offers further enhancements in general and high-speed milling, multi-function machine support, five- axis machining, and programming automation, all supported by enhanced machine tool simulation. NX enables customers to maximize the value of their advanced and most efficient machine tools. NX 4 adds a new tooling capability for Electrode Design for mold and die design customers.

Open Collaboration: NX 4 can use models produced by other CAD systems in the widely used JT data format and still maintain associativity. For example, NX 4 can create assembly constraints using JT-formatted components, and then if the JT component is changed, the assembly and mating conditions update automatically -- true multi-CAD assembly design.

This associativity also relates to machining. If the tool path created in NX 4 is linked to the JT model then any update to the original design can be fed through the NX and JT models and the toolpath will be automatically updated.

I attended a briefing on NX 4 last week and came away pretty impressed, although somewhat overwhelmed by the magnitude and sheer number of products associated with the announcement. Due to ship sometime late this year, UGS' NX4 really only has one competitor when it comes to breadth and depth of the product line from concept to design/engineering to tooling/machining. UGS says prices for NX 4 will remain the same when compared with NX 3.

One of the main themes that really struck me during the briefing and in this announcement is how UGS has brought and continues to bring not just a product orientation, but a process orientation, as well. On the product side, NX emphasizes simulation and validation for reducing risk and improving quality. On the process side, NX exploits repeatable processes to increase capacity and manages the product development environment with systems-level engineering tools. Combined, the product and process sides have the ability to automate the whole enchilada with knowledge-based and knowledge-driven methods
and tools.

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-- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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