March 26, 2007
New Product Stakes Claim in 3D MCAD Space
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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SpaceClaim Corp. announced the launch of its flagship product, SpaceClaim Professional 2007. Recognizing that the benefits of 3D mechanical design remain out of reach for most who contribute directly to product development, SpaceClaim Corp. makes 3D modeling accessible through a highly flexible design environment coupled with a modern user experience. With SpaceClaim Professional 2007, engineers retain focus on their core competencies while benefiting from a powerful 3D modeler that speeds their contributions to the product development process. SpaceClaim distinguishes itself further with an open data format that ensures full and continued access to product definition.

"SpaceClaim Professional 2007 finally puts usable 3D at the fingertips of engineers. This allows them to easily contribute more complete and accurate input earlier in the product lifecycle, when it is most cost-effective," said Mike Payne, SpaceClaim CEO, and previously a co-founder of PTC and SolidWorks. "SpaceClaim Professional 2007 breaks new ground by providing a modern, user-focused 3D mechanical design experience for engineering professionals who work with the design team to bring higher quality products to market faster. Through a select number of intelligent tools, SpaceClaim frees users to focus on their design contributions rather than struggling with how to use 3D

SpaceClaim bridges the gap between designers and those in the extended product development team--such as suppliers, manufacturing engineers, analysis engineers, and engineering management--who lack access or time to master the designers' 3D CAD system. To date, the benefits of 3D have remained concentrated in the hands of dedicated CAD specialists. As a result, the people who contribute to design conceptualization, review, analysis, and manufacturing communicate with the design team through insufficient view-only file formats or, even, paper.

With SpaceClaim the extended team can work directly with the 3D model to fully investigate the impact of each idea and validate the geometry of change requests before sharing them with the design team. This improves the quality of each design iteration and frees the CAD specialist to work with only valid requests, resulting in higher quality products and shorter time to market.

SpaceClaim Professional 2007 fits into the existing workflow of product development by enabling users to import and work with models created in many CAD systems. Additionally, SpaceClaim's open XML data format ensures that its customers, rather than the software vendor, retain ownership of and access to their product data.

SpaceClaim Professional 2007 provides robust 3D modeling capabilities, using a select number of intelligent tools, in a unified part and assembly workspace. SpaceClaim Professional 2007 key features and benefits include:

  • Flexible Modeling technology provides a highly-adaptive design environment that supports unanticipated design directions, making SpaceClaim ideal for conceptual engineering, design creation, and modification.
  • Geometric Inferencing works unobtrusively and in real time to highlight design similarities, such as equal radius holes or coplanar surfaces, to aid the user during geometry creation and modification.
  • Open XML data format makes all design data accessible for product data and lifecycle management, ensuring long-term protection of customer data.
  • SmartTools understand the user's modeling intent simply by recognizing what geometry is selected and in what context. By determining what operation to perform without excessive drop-down menus, dialogue boxes, and user clicks, SpaceClaim dramatically improves users' productivity.
  • Hints are a unique user interface advancement that automatically presents design considerations, such as maintaining same size holes or wall thickness, in the form of localized "snaps". Hints eliminate the need for the user to enter specific dimensions or interrogate the model before changing or adding geometry.
  • Power Select enables users to search the model for like geometry and to select as a group from the resulting list in order to modify, move, or delete all at once. This streamlined selection process greatly improves personal productivity and overall design efficiency.
  • Associative Drawing environment enables design changes, as well as geometry creation and modification, from within drawing views. The drawing environment provides a familiar work space for those accustomed to working in 2D. Drawings support annotations, including geometric dimensioning and tolerances, to JIS, ISO, and ANSI standards.

  • SpaceClaim Professional 2007 will be released on 30 March 2007 and will be available for license at a price of $125 per month, per user, based on a 3-year term. A 1-year term is also available, and both terms include full support and updates. The SpaceClaim product line includes: SpaceClaim Professional 2007 with complimentary Home Edition, and a free SpaceClaim Viewer. In addition, SpaceClaim offers a Data Exchange product for translators beyond the industry standards and a product that supports CATIA V5 data exchange. SpaceClaim also offers a library of standard parts.


    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    I recently spent for about an hour on a conference call as a SpaceClaim application engineer walked me through some of the highlights of the new product, while Mike Payne, the company’s CEO narrated the demonstration and fielded questions. As most of you may know, Mr. Payne is no stranger to the CAD industry, because prior to taking the helm at SpaceClaim, he was CEO of Spatial Corp. and, before that, CTO of Dassault Systèmes. Mr. Payne also was a co-founder of SolidWorks and served as Executive VP of R&D for the company from 1994 to 1999. Prior to 1994, Mr. Payne was a founder and former VP of development for Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). Needless to
    say, he’s been around the block a time or two when it comes to MCAD.

    As a matter of fact, the SpaceClaim executive ranks are extensively represented with former PTC employees. Also, on the board of directors is Steven C. Walske, former Chairman and CEO of PTC. So, all in all, the SpaceClaim executive suite is home to some pretty heavy hitters with lots of experience in the CAD arena. Will all of that experience be enough this time around? That’s hard to say because it’s a much different world in the MCAD market than it was 20, 10, 5, or even 2 years ago. That is to say, the MCAD market has become much more competitive.

    Targeted at the traditional CAD non-user, SpaceClaim Professional 2007 has ACIS as its underlying geometric modeling kernel. Mr. Payne said that one of the main focuses of the product was to make it as intuitive as possible for users new to CAD or those who had experienced difficulties with it in the past, meaning that it is “designer oriented,” and not necessarily “operator oriented.” It has an “open” ASCII-readable product structure and can be used in using top-down or bottom-up design methods. Mr. Payne also said it could be used as a standalone design product or in a complementary role alongside another MCAD application, such as
    SolidWorks. This is one of the difficulties I have with SpaceClaim professional, namely, having to purchase an additional CAD product to supplement on I already have. If and when your subscription runs out, the product is relegated to data view and export only.

    Also, I don’t if this has any significance at all, but the physical headquarters of SpaceClaim is a mere few hundred feet from SolidWorks’ HQ. Founded in September 2005, SpaceClaim is backed by Kodiak Venture Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners, a couple of significant players in the venture capital community.

    Is SpaceClaim Professional as intuitive as the company insists? I’m not going to touch that one until I have some personal hands-on experience with it; however, the demo had some aspects that made it look promising.

    Now for the million-dollar question, “Will SpaceClaim succeed where others have also succeeded, but also where many have failed?” That’s really a loaded question for a number of different reasons. I would have to say, that while the odds are against it, based on the personnel at the company, their collective track record betters those odds in their favor. While I am somewhat skeptical, I’m willing and anxious to track SpaceClaim and its flagship product and see how they fare in the MCAD marketplace. As with any new entrant into the MCAD space, we wish them well. 

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    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.

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