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March 28, 2005
Dassault Systemes And ICEM Establish Partnership For Developing Class-A Surfacing Software
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Dassault Systemes And ICEM Establish Partnership For Developing Class-A Surfacing Software

Dassault Systemes and ICEM Ltd. announced the signing of a strategic software development agreement under which ICEM will develop and sell the next generation of its surface design and analysis and design visualization software suite for Class-A surface development based on Dassault Systemes' Version 5 Architecture and Components. ICEM becomes a Gold Software Partner in Dassault Systemes' Component Application Architecture Version 5 (CAA V5) software partner program.

ICEM will provide a PLM solution component that will tightly connect the styling and engineering departments, further endorsing the new 3D XML open format from Dassault Systemes. It will deliver a comprehensive suite of products addressing end-to-end Automotive Class-A processes, from Class-A design and analysis to reverse engineering, realistic rendering and sketch tracing, all fully integrated with the V5 PLM environment. These solutions will include new versions of existing products for static rendering, real-time rendering, scan modeling and quick surfacing, as well as advanced applications such as dynamic, global manipulation of surfaces, advanced surface analysis, and
passenger/pedestrian safety analysis.

The solution will be marketed by ICEM and will either operate in standalone mode or in perfect synergy with an existing integrated V5 PLM Solution. The first release including core Class-A surface modeling and modules for dynamic global modification of surfaces and surface optimization are scheduled to be available for customer delivery in the third quarter of this year. ICEM will also provide dedicated, highly skilled consulting, best-practices and support teams to deploy the solutions to the industry. As a next strategic step, Dassault Systemes and ICEM aim to extend the partnership to Concept Design.

"As a long-term corporate customer of both DS and ICEM, we feel confident that this partnership--merging the strengths of each partner--will be able to fulfill our end-to-end process from styling via Class A to manufacturing, an important process within our Virtual Car strategy," said Peter Reindl, responsible for CAD/DMU applications and process integration at BMW. "Providing furthermore the necessary openness, this partnership will certainly also enable a better integration of our suppliers into this process."

"This partnership provides us with a best-in-class automotive Class A surface modeling solution that is fully integrated into our enterprise-wide, CAD environment," said Richard Riff, Henry Ford Technical Fellow, Virtual Product Creation & PLM, Ford Motor Company. "As a result, we will be using native CATIA V5 data throughout the vehicle body and interior design development process, with no need for data translators. This will bring real benefits in terms of data integrity and consistency, as well as in terms of an improved workflow."

"Automotive industries around the world are facing constant pressures on their styling and engineering processes and must consider innovative approaches to reduce design cycle time," said Dominique Florack, executive vice president, Research & Development, Dassault Systemes. "Leveraging the best assets from each partner, we will deliver a unique and innovative V5-based styling-to-manufacturing approach as an intrinsic part of the PLM business transformation."

"For ICEM, the significance of this partnership agreement is that it enables us to fulfill our committed strategy, designed to deliver a 'next-generation' set of surface modeling software solutions that contribute fully to the process-centric PLM vision of our customers," said Lee Cureton, CEO, ICEM Ltd. "We also retain our autonomy as an independent software company. One of the principle aids to improving the design-to-manufacture workflow is a fully integrated software environment that enables a seamless and uninterrupted two-way flow of information between the different design and engineering disciplines involved in the process. This agreement enables us to considerably improve
design-to-manufacture workflow by providing a tight link from which the whole PLM chain will benefit."

With its headquarters in the UK, ICEM Ltd. is the leading worldwide developer of advanced surface modeling, design and visualization software. ICEM software is a critical component of the product lifecycle management (PLM) software environments of many of the world's leading automotive, aerospace, sporting goods and consumer durable products manufacturers and their suppliers.

With a worldwide network, ICEM's principal market sector is the worldwide automotive industry. Here it includes most of the leading manufacturers among its customers, including the Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler Group, Volkswagen Audi Group, Porsche, BMW, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault, Nissan, Subaru and Harley Davidson among others, as well as leading automotive industry companies such as Volke, EDAG, Pininfarina, Bertone and Bertrandt, among many others. The company also has a significant presence in the industrial design market.

CAA V5 (Component Application Architecture) is Dassault Systemes' open middleware and development environment for PLM. The CAA V5 Software Community Program is dedicated to ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) willing to develop, sell and support CAA V5-based applications, fully integrated with CATIA, ENOVIA and DELMIA V5. This collaboration results in the expansion of Dassault Systemes' PLM solutions to cover the entire product lifecycle range, thus enabling mutual customers to take advantage of a larger set of products in response to their specific industrial needs. By delivering best-in-class complementary V5 applications, CAA V5 Gold Software Partners further promote Dassault Systemes'
objective of supporting and continuously improving customer processes. Gold Partners also benefit from a unique and privileged access to Dassault Systemes' R&D laboratory and advanced technical and marketing support. Spatial Corp. is the primary channel for marketing, sales and support/services for CAA V5.

There is no doubt that separately and combined Dassault Systemes and ICEM are at the pinnacle of the automotive styling design world, and this partnership will continue to strengthen that position. For its part, ICEM's flagship product, ICEM Surf, has a reputation as being one of the most capable applications for creating Class-A surfaces that are crucial to transportation design. It also has a reputation for having a nearly vertical initial learning curve. Reputation aside, however, ICEM is one of the strongest applications available for styling and creating complex surfaces.

ICEM Surf is well-suited for just about all aspects of freeform surfacing and visualization. It is used extensively in the automotive industry to design car bodies, as well as complex interior parts. Although focused on automotive Class-A surfacing, the range of uses for ICEM Surf also include manifold surfacing tasks in automotive body-in-white and press tool design, as well as industrial design and high-end visualization. Surface quality checks and manufacturing feasibility are addressed with various static and dynamic surface diagnostics. ICEM Surf is also used for reverse engineering and handles input from digitized physical models.

While most surface modeling packages allow only approximate control over the shape and quality of surfaces, ICEM Surf provides precise direct control over all surface attributes and displays surface characteristics dynamically as changes are made to a model. Additionally, all surface diagnostics (sections, reflection lines, etc.) that help to analyze surface quality are dynamic and associative.

ICEM Surf's global modeling features let you make changes that span many surface patches. This lets you rapidly explore design alternatives without redefining the underlying surface model. The unique scan modeling capabilities of ICEM Surf provide efficient shape definition methods for the product design process. Scans (point clouds) can be modeled and diagnosed similar to curves and surfaces in ICEM Surf.

Expect this relationship between Dassault and ICEM to further advance their presence in the demanding arena of advanced surfaces for transportation and industrial design.

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

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.