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October 23, 2006
Study Finds Continuing CAD Interoperability Issues
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
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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:
  • 50 percent of all respondents indicated that they had to redesign a new part or tool from existing or received 3D CAD models on a weekly or even more frequent basis.
  • 84 percent of the more than 1000 respondents using a history-based CAD system to open a file and complete a redesign indicated that they need to rework original feature trees. Of that group, 66 percent indicate that they do so at least 50 percent of the time.
  • 43 percent of all respondents indicated that they use the originating 3D CAD system (the system the model was generated in) less than half the time to make subsequent edits to the model.
  • 44 percent of respondents indicated that they receive or send two or more CAD files on a monthly basis which were different than their preferred CAD file type.
  • 37 percent of the respondents replied that they receive or send files created from four or more non-preferred CAD file types on a monthly basis.
  • "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.

    This discussion always comes back to standards that much of the rest of the technological world has worked for and supported for a long time. Why doesn't the CAD industry have better enforced and supported standards and "open sources? Well, to certain extent it does have its own standards, such as IGES and STEP, for transfer of design file information from one software package to another. But I have to ask you, how many IGES or STEP files have you imported with complex surfaces that you didn't have to perform at least one of the following operations (depending on what software package you're using) - analyze, repair, knit, stitch, blend, smooth, stretch, etc? In my experience, very
    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.

    Don't forget, too, that the number of files stored using the IGES and STEP standard formats is vastly outnumbered by those stored in proprietary formats that number as many as there are CAD vendors. Even today, probably the most notable (and notorious) is still the DWG file format used by Autodesk's AutoCAD - a constantly moving data format target if there ever was one. This is getting away from the point, though, and the inevitable, who owns design data, and I'm not going there right now, although I have a strong opinion that it is the end users who created it who should ultimately own it. That's the charter of organizations like the Open Design Alliance, though, so you might want to
    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.

    Analytic faces are advantageous because they can expedite modeling operations while producing much smaller files. The Kubotek technology also re-intersects surfaces to remove certain tolerant edge conditions as it detects and automatically merges redundant faces and edges. Once the quality of the model has been improved and the size reduced, the improved model can be transferred using the ACIS SAT or Parasolid file formats to other CAD/CAM programs that support the higher analytic face forms. Theoretically, this route could potentially produce a higher quality and fidelity model in its exported form than, say, IGES or STEP, but I'd have to see it for myself to say with any degree of
    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.

    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.

    UGS And Tech Soft 3D Announce 3D JT Data Format And HOOPS 3D Application Framework Integration

    UGS Corp. and Tech Soft 3D (TS3D) a provider of graphics components to the CAD/CAM/CAE software industry, have completed an integration of TS3D's HOOPS 3D Application Framework (HOOPS/3dAF) software with the software development toolkit (SDK) for UGS' JT data format, a 3D format for product visualization, collaboration and data exchange. The JT/HOOPS integration code will be made available for no charge to all HOOPS licensees. Interested developers may obtain the JT SDK by joining UGS' JT Open program, a worldwide community, consisting of manufacturers, PLM suppliers and academic institutions, that supports and promotes the JT standard.

    PTC Acquire Technical Illustration Software Provider ITEDO

    PTC has acquired ITEDO Software GmbH and ITEDO Software LLC (collectively, ITEDO), headquartered in Germany, for approximately $17 million in cash. With IsoDraw family of products, ITEDO delivers comprehensive software solutions for creating and maintaining technical illustrations. With this acquisition, PTC can offer a complete solution for creating, managing, and publishing text and graphical content for technical publications. ITEDO's IsoDraw and related products IsoView and IsoCompose are technical illustration products for creating isometric technical illustrations for manufacturing, marketing, customer service, and support documentation. Illustrations can be created from scratch and
    from legacy illustrations, but more importantly they can be derived from existing 3D and 2D design data, including all major mechanical CAD applications.

    UGS Solid Edge 2D Software Hits 10,000 Download Milestone

    UGS Corp. announced that since its launch one month ago, more than 10,000 users have downloaded UGS' no cost Solid Edge 2D Design program. Research firm, Aberdeen, surveyed more than 320 manufacturers following this program announcement in its September 2006 Market Alert -- Still Paying 2D Drafting Maintenance? Stop. It's a Commodity. Results include:
  • Sixty percent of survey respondents agreed that 2D drafting is a commodity
  • Sixty-four percent are planning to download UGS' no cost 2D program
  • Nearly half of manufacturers paying 2D drafting maintenance will consider replacing their current tools with the free software
  • Seventy-seven percent of those that migrate to 3D modeling continue to use 2D drafting applications.
  • In addition, Aberdeen recently published another report that found that 71 percent of companies currently using 2D drafting are planning on using 3D modeling.

    Moldflow Announces Anti-Piracy Program

    Moldflow Corp. a provider of automation and optimization software for the plastics injection molding industry, has started a program aimed at eliminating the use of unlicensed and unauthorized Moldflow software in Eastern Europe that includes a time-limited offer for converting to legal software. Moldflow's proprietary software products include Moldflow Plastics Advisers (MPA) and Moldflow Plastics Insight (MPI).

    PTC Windchill PDMLink Extends Support To HP Itanium Servers

    PTC and HP announced the availability of Windchill PDMLink 8.0 on HP Integrity servers powered by Intel Itanium 64-bit processor architecture. Windchill PDMLink, the PTC content and process management solution, enables manufacturers to expertly manage all forms of product data. By supporting the HP Itanium platform, PTC helps users to use Windchill with applications for HP-UX, OpenVMS, Linux, or Microsoft Windows on a single platform. This eliminates the limitations that result from platforms restricted to a single operating system.

    Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached
    here or 408.850.9230.

    This Week

    Lead Story
  • Kubotek USA Study Finds CAD Interoperability Issues Continue Throughout Product Lifecycle
    Product and Company News
  • GE Fanuc Teams With SAP
  • Cirrus Design Selects ICEM Surf
  • Synopsys Enhances Saber Simulator Integration with UGS Software
  • Metris Releases K-Scan MMZ, the Walk-Around Handheld Scanner
  • Business Engine Partners With UGS
  • CoCreate Announces Wins for 3D Product Development and Management
  • Vero Announces Knowledge Transfer Project
  • Ingersoll Rand Transforms Business with PTC Product Development System
  • Wayne-Dalton Deploys Agile PLM in Three Days
  • Flo Healthcare Uses Autodesk Inventor for Clinical Workstations
  • Adaptive Technology Solutions named “Top Sales Performer”
  • IronCAD Funny Car Wins FIA European Championship
  • Blue Ridge Numerics Remains Among America's Fastest Growing Technology Companies
  • Solid Insight Expands With SolidCAM
  • Vero International Software Receives Positive Response To Customer Training Days
  • ANSYS Releases Icewave 1.1 For Electromagnetic Compatibility And Interference Analyses
  • Schott Systeme Introduces New 2D/3D Streamlining Tool
  • Stratasys Named As Award Finalist
  • CAD Schroer Releases MEDUSA4 Version 2.2
  • Omnify Software Named A 2006 "Top 40 Emerging Company"
  • Delcam Thailand To Celebrate Record Year
  • VISTAGY Partners With TAC In Japan
  • ESI Group Releases New Version Of ProCAST Casting Simulation Software
  • Procuri Named A Top Emerging Software Company
  • SofTech Reports Q1 FY 2007 Results
  • Delcam Partners With DMG In China
  • fe-safe User Group Conference Proceedings Now Available
    Related MCAD News
  • TI Processors Drive Automotive Graphics And Displays
  • China's Electronic Manufacturing Revenue Continues To Rise
  • SAP Reports 17% Growth In Software Revenues
  • Optimal Expands System-in-Package Analysis
  • 2007 Automotive News PACE Award Finalists Named
  • Delphi Helps Vehicle Makers Turn Out High-Tech Hybrids
  • Freescale Targets Advanced Driver Assistance Systems With Microcontroller
  • Delphi Up-Integrates Safety Systems To Bring Down Total Cost
  • Hyperion Announces Support For IBM Information Server
  • Ford Standardizes On Mentor Graphics ' CHS Electrical Design Tools Worldwide
  • Delphi Lowers Cost And Simplifies Assembly With Integrated Instrument Panel
  • New Railcar Manufacturing Joint Venture Formed
  • Virtutech Announces Simulation Model Of Space Computer For Space Applications Simulation
  • Liaison Recognized As An Emerging Software Vendor
  • Continental Automotive Systems Division Sponsors "Smart Car" Award
  • Lear Displays Automotive Industry's First Solid-State Smart Junction Box
  • Axway's Synchrony Protects Against Counterfeit Aircraft Parts
    Industry Events
  • Complimentary Webcast - Enterprise Product Data Management: Why It's Important to You
  • COFES 2007 Registration Opens
  • Kubotek Executive To Speak On CAD Legacy Data Dilemma
  • OneSpace 2007: CoCreate Sneak Peek Webcast
  • MIT Manufacturing Conference Targets New Product Design And Manufacturing
  • LMS Announces 2007 Conferences In US, Europe, And Japan
  • Delcam Offers Free Estimating Software At Euromold
  • MEMS Goes Mainstream At Executive Event
  • TopSolid'Cam Present At Airtec
  • Agile To Participate at Consumer Goods Technology 2006 Fall Conference
  • Precision Moldmaking Event Scheduled At Machining Technology Conference
  • Coastal Logic To Debut New Versions Of Batch Printing And Rendering Products At Enovia MatrixOne Conference

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.

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