October 23, 2006
Study Finds Continuing CAD Interoperability Issues
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The 2006 Kubotek USA Interoperability Survey finds continued and growing challenges for manufacturers working to get products to market quickly due to problems in the design-to-manufacturing processes, including the use of legacy data and disparate CAD systems.
The 2006 CAD Interoperability Survey is Kubotek's latest installment in an ongoing study of key issues that hamper productivity and therefore reduce efficiency in the design and manufacturing workplace. More than 2,800 CAD managers and users responded to the survey.
Kubotek has long known that interoperability issues have historically reduced the effectiveness with which designers and engineers can create, edit and import/export their models. The 2006 CAD Interoperability Survey Results shed light on the actual process employed by different CAD users and on the factors that hinder their productivity.
Kubotek found that fully 43 percent of those using history-based CAD systems need to rebuild 3D models from scratch more than 50 percent of the time in order to complete a design task because it cannot be done using the original 3D model file. A growing number, 19 percent of those surveyed, are employing alternative direct modeling tools to avoid costly and time-consuming rebuilding of models.
The following are some highlights of the survey's findings:
"As global competition heats up and manufacturing timeframes get squeezed it's no surprise that the vast majority of designers are reusing pre-existing models," notes Bob Bean, chief operating officer of Kubotek USA. "That in turn creates challenges for downstream manufacturers to get critical information needed to build parts. It is common to receive a model from a customer, supplier, or even a fellow employee that was created using a CAD tool that differs from the user's preferred tool. Unfortunately, the imported model frequently has problems that must be worked around."
In addition to providing a general overview of the industry, the survey also provides interesting vertical segment data and gives CAD/CAM users a deeper understanding of the issues which may limit their performance. The complete survey results are available at http://www.kubotekusa.com/company/interopsurvey/index.asp.
Kubotek is a pioneer in the area of CAD interoperability. The annual survey continues to shed light on the complex issues of the design-to-manufacture process. With that critical information, Kubotek continually refines its products and services to assist all phases of product development in order to overcome interoperability problems. For example, Kubotek recently announced advancements in model simplification technology which can be used to produce compact, precise and high-fidelity design models using either legacy or imported CAD model data. The company also sponsors events where the industry can explore, understand and resolve these issues.
This year's survey results are just one way CAD design professionals can understand how to reduce the inefficiency resulting from interoperability issues and curtail the need to rebuild imported CAD models from scratch.
by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
This study and its findings should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who deals with exchanging CAD files on any level. Here it is late 2006 and we are still locked in a quagmire of CAD file formats and the myriad problems they force us to deal with. This problem that never seems to go away, or even get any better, continues to run up billions of dollars a year because of incompatible and just plain corrupt data.
This isn't all bad, however. If you're involved with data translation software or services, the good times continue to roll, and will continue to do so for quite some time to come. But the dreams coming true and good fortune for some cannot compare to the nightmares and misfortune of the masses when it comes to living with data incompatibilities on a daily basis that are huge drains on time, money, productivity, and innovation. Some vendors are, however, are trying to do their part to rectify this mess, but more about that later.
few, if any, complex IGES or STEP files came across as perfect geometric entities. Some have been so bad that they were literally used for tracing with sketches for recreating the model - virtually starting from scratch - not exactly an optimized workflow. I know I'm not alone in this sentiment of frustration, either.
check them out.
This is the second time around for the Kubotek-sponsored survey and I'm impressed with the number of respondents they were able to garner. Just like last year's study, there's still a lot of people having a lot of problems with the interoperability of CAD data. There are a few bright spots, but by and large, there's still a huge amount of work to do. For its part, I have to applaud Kubotek for conducting the survey and reporting the results. The company has also introduced a new simplification technology that is integrated into its KeyCreator and REALyze products that it says has enhanced model repair capabilities.
Surfaces and solid faces exported from various CAD programs are frequently represented as generic spline surfaces. Kubotek's simplification technology analyzes these spline surfaces and, as appropriate, re-classifies them into higher analytic forms such as planar, cylindrical, and toroidal. These analytic forms can then be used directly by Kubotek's KeyCreator and REALyze to make use of the faces for features and geometry editing.
certainty. In any case, it's a different take on an age-old problem.
So, it's no secret that this problematic interoperability thing is not going away any time soon, and only promises to get more complicated and expensive as time goes on. That's a shame, because we all have better things to do than begrudgingly accept imported data, too often in a sorry state, and try and fix it before we can actually use it.
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.