February 28, 2011
Autodesk Acquiring Blue Ridge Numerics
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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  • The ability to perform analysis on entire assemblies, as well as individual parts
  • The ability to perform analysis based on real-world structural and thermal conditions
  • Advanced-ease-of use and performance superiority with a fully integrated simulation solution

    Specifically, PlassoTech technology provided FEA calculations in categories such as linear static stress, steady state thermal, thermal stress, modal and frequency analysis, optimization and buckling. It also includes advanced functionalities to test dynamic stress, transient thermal, and large deformation analysis of solid and shell models with various contact conditions.

    At the time of the acquisition PlassoTech had less than 10 employees. So why PlassoTech? Autodesk liked PlassoTech's ease of use and its solver was fast.

    As Autodesk incorporated PlassoTech technology into its Inventor products, it discontinued selling standalone products or add-ons as separate items. Before the acquisition, PlassoTech was selling some of its products to several of Inventor's rivals, including Solid Edge, Pro/ENGINEER, and SolidWorks.

    Up to the time of the latest acquisition, ALGOR was integrating its base static stress FEA "Designcheck" package with several CAD products, including Rhino, KeyCreator, SolidWorks and Autodesk Mechanical Desktop. It appears that several of ALGOR's strategic business partners were caught unaware the Autodesk takeover. Will ALGOR still service competing MCAD products? It appears so for the time being, according to the announcement, but this could change at any time.

    I found one of the most interesting quotes in the announcement to be,
    "continue developing the ALGOR products with an open approach."
    Exactly what this means is anybody’s guess, especially knowing Autodesk’s stand and position on companies or individuals who develop products that read and write to its DWG drawing format. We’re still waiting to see just what “open” means in this context in the long term.

    Auotodesk appears to be on the same “open approach” path with BlueRidge Numerics and CFD, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that one. I’ll be interested to see how Autodesk integrates and implements Blue Ridge Numerics’ CFD technology into Inventor. Like Early stage FEA, upfront CFD should prove to be a valuable tool for many types of designers, especially those who deal with electronic packaging and products where aerodynamics come into play.

    So I guess it comes down to how much FEA and CFD code through acquisition is enough? That question remains to be answered, but it appears that Autodesk is going to continue on its acquisition march in the simulation/analysis arena – FEA, CFD, and beyond.

    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.


    Luxion, a developer of rendering and lighting technology and makers of KeyShot, the first realtime ray tracing and global illumination program, announced the release of KeyShot 2.2 as a free upgrade to the KeyShot 2 application introduced last summer. KeyShot 2.2 delivers many improvements to the import pipeline and model interaction in realtime that makes it even easier to create photographic images from 3D CAD models. Render speeds have also dramatically improved, especially when working with complex materials. KeyShot 2.2 further streamlines interoperability with leading CAD system by offering native support for Autodesk
    AutoCAD and Inventor, SolidWorks 2011, CATIA v5 and SketchUp 8. Other major enhancements include:
  • Preservation of model structure from CAD model including all subassemblies
  • Preservation of part / layer names
  • Separate material column
  • Part outline in the realtime window
  • Move multiple objects
  • Significantly faster handling of large assemblies
  • Ability to duplicate objects
  • Advanced Materials with complex settings render now up to 15 times faster
  • All 3Dconnexion 3D mice are now supported by KeyShot.


    SpaceClaim announced that LG Electronics is optimizing its engineering processes by using SpaceClaim to modify and manipulate CAD models. "SpaceClaim's ease of use and compatibility with a broad range of CAD software, enables our engineers to more quickly verify and measure 3D model data from designers and prepare those designs for the manufacturing process," said Mr. Juyeon Lee, Chief Research Engineer, LG Electronics. "Activities in SpaceClaim also include model modification before the machining process and planning the assembling procedures. We anticipate that SpaceClaim will contribute to the improvement of our overall
    production process." SpaceClaim recently strengthened 3D direct modeling for the enterprise with the Company's seventh release of its software. New capabilities within SpaceClaim 2011 meet manufacturers' requirements for fast and cost-effective, engineering-driven product development.

    At eight years old, they built a log cabin with a hatchet. At 10 years, a robotic arm from bike parts. At 27 years, the world’s fastest robotic tank and, now, the smallest all-terrain armored vehicle. Today, with the help of SolidWorks software, the Howe twins, Geoff and Mike, are able to invent extreme “Mad Max”-style vehicles with astonishing capabilities. Known in Defense Department R&D circles as the “The Wright brothers of the military,” the prime defense contractors also star in Discovery Channel’s “Black Ops Brothers, Howe & Howe Tech” show. After trying other software, Howe and Howe settled on SolidWorks because it’s easy to use and compatible with other tools. “SolidWorks is definitely on the cutting edge of interface design,” Howe said. “It has a short learning curve, and our new engineers pick it up in about a week. We can also output different CAD formats, because SolidWorks plays well with others. This makes us compatible with a wide range of customers.” Adopting SolidWorks has dramatically streamlined development. The Howe and Howe team makes extensive use of tools for efficient design of weldments, and 3D models drive plasma torch and CNC cutters. Roll-cage fabrication now takes one-tenth the time, and scrap costs are down by 85 percent. Through their main
    business, Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., the brothers have produced:
  • The Ripsaw high-speed tank capable of 80 mph and zero to 50 in 5 seconds;
  • The Mini Rip ATV for consumers who want to be unstoppable in the woods;
  • The
  • PAV1, which is the world’s smallest tank, for police and SWAT teams;
  • The Subterranean Rover, a rugged mining personnel transport vehicle; and
  • The Thermite unmanned firefighting vehicle.

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