July 19, 2004
JT Open Initiative Continues To Attract New Members
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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JT Open Initiative Continues To Attract New Members
UGS, has announced the addition of six new members to the JT Open initiative, building on the strong momentum established since its initial launch in November 2003. Four new corporate members -- automakers DaimlerChrysler and Renault, along with auto supplier Visteon and heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar -- join an expanding list of global manufacturers already participating in JT Open. PLM software providers Theorem Solutions and Opticore have also signed-on, adding to the growing set of JT Open vendor members.
"The momentum and energy behind JT Open is encouraging," said Ed Miller, president of CIMdata. "Companies considering a PLM initiative need to adopt a clear strategy for interoperability or they will risk compromising their company's competitiveness. UGS' PLM Open business model has gained significant industry visibility, and represents UGS' strategy for helping companies leverage multiple technology investments to structure their collaborative product development environment."
As the newest corporate members of JT Open, DaimlerChrysler, Renault, Visteon and Caterpillar join a growing group of global manufacturers seeking to remove technology barriers in their product development processes.
"It is critical to the success of the automotive industry that we eliminate all impediments to productivity caused by incompatible technologies," said Ulrich Ray, Director Development MB Passenger Cars-Information Technology, IT-Processes and Standardization for DaimlerChrysler. "Open solutions based on generally accepted data formats will benefit all manufacturers and the JT Open initiative is helping to further this common objective."
"We applaud the JT Open initiative for promoting the concept of open technology to facilitate enhanced communication and collaboration in the global manufacturing industry," said Francois Pistre, IT executive for Renault. "We look forward to working with all of the JT Open members to improve open communication throughout our collective product lifecycle processes."
"Becoming a JT Open member makes good business sense for any manufacturer in the automotive industry," said Lorie Buckingham, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Visteon. "As the first major automotive supplier to join JT Open we are looking forward to working with the other members to help define collaborative processes around JT and to gain business value from its use."
Theorem Solutions and Opticore announced their respective status as JT Open vendor members earlier this year.
"The addition of these prestigious industry leaders to the already impressive list of companies participating in JT Open is further validation of the business value of this innovative initiative," said Bruce Feldt, vice president of Open Tools for UGS. "JT Open's growing momentum also serves as evidence that its unique industry partnership model can successfully unite diverse manufacturers and suppliers around an open forum for the benefit of the PLM industry."
JT Open is an initiative driven by global leaders that view PLM as a competitive advantage and have adopted the "JT" data format as a standard. JT is a common data format for enabling product visualization and information sharing between PLM software applications. The robust functionality and lightweight nature of JT technology makes it possible to view and share product data and interactive images worldwide, in real-time and throughout all phases of the product lifecycle.
Membership in JT Open is available to any and all end user corporations, independent software vendors (ISVs), academic institutions and non-profit industry organizations. In addition to the six new members announced today, initial JT Open members announced in November include UGS, General Motors, Ford, Mazda, PTC, Alias, and Actify, as well as academic members Brigham Young University, Technical University Darmstadt, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the University of Michigan. In addition, many other companies that derive indirect value from the initiative participate as JT Open advocates. JT Open advocates include HP, Intel, SAP, Tecnomatix, CIMx and Elysium.
JT Open is not an attempt to create a standard, such as STEP or IGES - those formats address different requirements, namely interoperability. JT is a format tailored for multi-cad data-sharing, based on the high-definition, small footprint, visual, and optional precise (b-rep) information. There are several important differences between this and other available visualization/representation technologies.
The JT Open Toolkit (used for creating JT-formatted data) is a C++ library and is available for several hardware and operating system platforms, including Windows, SUN, HP, SGI, and AIX. Software product development organizations have developed translators from many of the popular MCAD systems into JT. It is nearly always the only format common to the major applications that might be used in an enterprise. JT data can be very lightweight, holding little more than facet data or it can be richer and hold associations to the original CAD information, assemblies, product structure, geometry, attributes, meta data and PMI. It supports multiple tessellations and level-of-detail generation.
When the JT Open Toolkit exports a model, the toolkit creates one or more DirectModel files, referred to as "JT files" with a ".jt" file extension. JT files represent a flexible data format, capable of storing:
Directly renderable geometry
Hierarchical CAD product structure
The relationship of product structure hierarchy to exported JT file structure is arbitrary. Any node in the hierarchy can be specified as the start of a new JT file. Thus, product structure can be represented in a variety of JT file configurations. For convenience, JT Open Toolkit defines three common product structure-to-file structure mappings. These include:
Per part - All assembly nodes in a product structure hierarchy are stored in a single JT file, and each part node in the hierarchy is stored in an individual JT file in a subdirectory that is of the same name as the assembly JT file.
Fully shattered - Each product structure node in the hierarchy is stored in an individual JT file.
Monolithic - All product structure is stored in a single JT file.
To help shrink the storage and transmission bandwidth requirements of 3D models, JT files can be compressed. The compression is transparent to a JT data user, and a given model can be composed of JT files using different compression settings (including none). The compression form used by a JT file is related to the JT file format version in which it was written.
Although less than a year old, JT Open is becoming an influential community of users, software vendors, and other parties across the PLM chain who, through an open distribution of the JT technology under an equitable business model, are able to share 3D data for the purposes of visualization, collaboration, and data-sharing. To date, the JT data format has seen its most widespread use in the automobile and aerospace industries, but is equally suitable for all manufacturing industry segments. According to the organization, today there are over 35,000 JT-enabled sites worldwide, representing but a fraction of the potential market. Current industry thinking is that for every 3D CAD seat
deployed there are 20-30 end-users who can make use of the data in the context of visualization and interrogation using less expensive applications on less expensive hardware. A recent estimate of the global 3D CAD installed base (~1.8M) puts the opportunity for JT-enabled applications at well over 36 million seats. Sounds like pretty good potential, doesn't it?
D-Cubed Releases New Hidden Line Manager and Collision Detection Manager Products
UGS and its D-Cubed subsidiary have announced the availability of new releases of two of D-Cubed's component software products. The new releases of both Hidden Line Manager (HLM) version 31.0 and Collision Detection Manager (CDM) version 31.0 contain several new enhancements to improve function and performance.
New enhancements to D-Cubed's Hidden Line Manager (HLM), precise hidden line technology, include:
Annotation support - Applications can now specify that geometry should never be hidden by other faces or parts. This enables applications to add annotation geometry to the HLM model and determine precisely how it is displayed. The model below, for example, consists of three elements: a cylinder, a block and a wire edge that represents the projected cylinder axis. This particular annotation of the cylinder axis is achieved by specifying that the wire edge should not be hidden by the cylinder. The new functionality joins a suite of tools - including model outline detection and intersection curve visualization - that makes the HLM a solution for technical illustration applications.
Face visibility hints - In certain circumstances, applications may have prior knowledge about the visibility status of some of the faces in a model. For instance, an inaccurate hidden line technology used for fast visualization on large models, such as a z-buffering technique, can determine that some faces are not visible in a particular view. It is now possible for an application to provide such information to the HLM in order to accelerate the calculation of an accurate hidden line view of an entire model.
Improved boxing - For each part in an assembly, applications that employ HLM can specify a box that completely encloses a part. The HLM uses boxes to reduce the time it takes to compute a hidden line view. Generally, the more closely the box matches a part, the better the possible performance gain. In previous releases, only axis-aligned boxes were permitted. It is now possible to specify an axis-aligned box that has been transformed to enclose a part more precisely.
The new enhancements to D-Cubed's latest release of its Collision Detection Manager (CDM), the leading interactive collision detection and clearance computation component for accurate models in assembly environments, include:
Identification of touching entities - The CDM previously only detected those collisions where the colliding bodies share a common volume. This is not the case when entities are touching - previously, such cases were ignored. In this release the CDM has been extended to enable applications to detect any entities that are touching, as well as those that interpenetrate.
Faster computation of touching solutions between moving parts - When the CDM is used for interactive collision detection between moving parts, collision checks are systematically performed as the parts are moved through a series of small but discrete steps. When moving parts collide, they will generally have moved from a non-colliding state to an interpenetrating state in a single step. Applications can then request the CDM to determine the exact positions at which the two parts would touch. The new release implements more sophisticated algorithms to speed up this calculation. The original function used a bi-section algorithm that often required many steps to converge on the touching
solution. The new algorithm is much more efficient, requiring very few steps without any compromise on reliability. Among other applications, the computation of touching solutions between colliding parts is useful for presenting possible face mating conditions to the end-user.
Improved boxing - For each part in an assembly, applications can specify a box that completely encloses a part. The CDM uses boxes to reduce the time taken to compute collisions. Generally, the more closely the box matches a part, the better the possible performance gain. In previous releases, only axis-aligned boxes were permitted. It is now possible to specify an axis-aligned box that has been transformed to enclose a part more precisely.
The HLM and CDM technologies were both first released in 1999 and have enjoyed widespread adoption across the MCAD spectrum, providing many core capabilities. The HLM is one of the most widely deployed hidden line methods in the CAD industry According to D-Cubed, its kernel independence lets a dedicated team of experts focus exclusively and continuously on the development of its advanced hidden line algorithms without being distracted by the wider requirements of a general solid modeling technology. Since its initial release, CDM has achieved broad market acceptance, particularly with mainstream mechanical CAD applications, including Autodesk Inventor, Solid Edge, and SolidWorks, among
several others. CDM's success is largely due to its range of clever algorithms specifically designed to detect collisions and compute clearances on accurate solids in an interactive assembly environment, rather than being derived from the traditional - and unnecessarily computationally intensive - Boolean approach. Commonly used in conjunction with D-Cubed's 3D DCM assembly-part-positioning and kinematic-solving component, the CDM provides interaction with assembly models with a greater sense of realism and solidity, eliminating design errors and failures caused by interpenetrating parts.
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.