June 14, 2004
UGS Acquiring D-Cubed
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Acquiring D-Cubed
UGS announced a definitive agreement to acquire D-Cubed Ltd., a Cambridge, England-based supplier of embedded technology used by virtually all of the world's computer-aided design (CAD) application developers.
"The addition of D-Cubed products firmly positions UGS as the principal supplier of component software technology to the global PLM industry, and further validates our intention to remain the open solutions leader," said Tony Affuso, chairman, CEO and president of UGS. "The same PLM Open strategy and business model that have been so successful with our Parasolid software and JT Open initiative will continue to be employed with the D-Cubed family of products."
"As we begin our new chapter as an independent company, we welcome the world-class team of D-Cubed professionals to our UGS family," continued Affuso. "Uniting D-Cubed with UGS is an important part of our R&D growth strategy and we will continue to pursue the best ways to enhance our portfolio, build on our superior technology platform and add value for our customers."
The transaction is expected to close within 45 days, pending satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
D-Cubed develops and markets a suite of software component products that manage various aspects of geometric modeling functionality. The components are licensed by software development organizations for integration into their own end-user products. The majority of the world's leading mechanical CAD applications - including AutoCAD, CATIA, Inventor, IronCAD, Mechanical Desktop, One Space Designer, Pro/Desktop, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, thinkdesign, Unigraphics NX, and many more - contain one or more D-Cubed components, making its solutions the de facto industry standard.
"UGS' unmatched reputation for quality and integrity in supplying the PLM industry with component technology makes this transaction a perfect fit for D- Cubed," said D-Cubed president John Owen, who will continue working with UGS. "UGS' history of offering products like the Parasolid geometric modeling kernel on a 'level playing field' policy was a significant factor in our decision to work with UGS. We look forward to the increased market opportunities for D-Cubed technology that will result from this acquisition."
Concurrent with the announcement, UGS also introduced the product family name "PLM Components" as part of its growing business for industry standard component software products. The PLM Components product suite, which D-Cubed products will join upon the closing of the transaction, promote open innovation throughout the community of component adopters and enable seamless interoperability among applications in the PLM market. UGS plans to market its PLM Components products as part of the company's innovative PLM Open strategy - UGS' open approach to doing business and developing technology - while continuing to employ the company's unique level playing field business model.
PLM Components - UGS' fifth product suite in addition to Teamcenter, NX, Solid Edge and E-factory - consist of:
Parasolid - a geometric modeling kernel
PLM Vis - enterprise product visualization technology embedded in all UGS products and many partner applications
JT Open Toolkit - software to enable collaboration and visualization that powers the JT Open program
PLM XML SDK (software development toolkit) - technology that implements UGS' open data model for customers and third parties.
"We welcome and look forward to serving the D-Cubed customers, many of whom are already UGS customers using one or more of the products in our PLM Components suite," said Chuck Grindstaff, executive vice-president of PLM Products for UGS. "We will continue to provide these customers with the outstanding technology and product support they are accustomed to."
"As our industry's leading voice for openness to promote standardization and interoperability, UGS will continue to leverage the D-Cubed components that are already fully integrated into our NX and Solid Edge family of products," added Grindstaff.
This has certainly been a busy past few months for UGS and its communications staff. First, the acquisition by private investors, renaming the company, and now the acquisition of D-Cubed. This is really a big deal because, unlike the ACIS or Parasolid geometric modeling kernels that are found in some CAD products, technologies from D-Cubed are working behind the scenes in virtually all CAD applications. Are many or any of UGS' competitors concerned about the acquisition? Apparently not (and they really shouldn't be because the D-Cubed technologies will continue to provide a nice revenue stream for UGS). We received an email from Autodesk that stated, "As you may already know, Autodesk
has an agreement to license component technology from D-Cubed, as well as a consulting arrangement. We want to reassure you, our customers and partners that we believe this new development will not affect our current solutions or our future product offerings. We will continue to work with D-Cubed and look forward to building a successful relationship with UGS." If anybody should be concerned, it should be SolidWorks, because it licenses both Parasolid and D-Cubed software components. However, at a press event hosted by SolidWorks, John McEleney, SolidWorks CEO, said that he was not concerned in the least and looked forward to a continued relationship with the technologies, regardless of
its ownership. Right now it looks like business as usual, and only time will tell if any of the vendors have any reason for concern, although I don't believe that anything will change that would negatively impact any CAD product or company.
SolidWorks 2005 Launched
SolidWorks Corp. announced the newest version of its flagship software, solidifying it as the number one choice in the mainstream 3D mechanical design market. SolidWorks 2005 software delivers powerful drawing capabilities, unparalleled ease of use, and a host of new productivity features, accelerating the adoption of 3D design and speeding the pace of industry.
SolidWorks 2005 includes more than 250 customer-requested features and enhancements that help machine designers, mold designers, consumer product designers, and others become faster, more accurate, and more productive as they bring their innovations to market. These enhancements make SolidWorks 2005 the most expansive product in its market and the only one to encompass 3D design, analysis, product data management, collaboration, and injection-molded plastic part validation software in a single offering. Key improvements include:
An extensive design library for machine designers
The first mold design validation tool built into a solid modeling environment
Enhanced loft features for consumer product designers;
Application-specific user interfaces;
An embedded editor for AutoCAD files; and
A time-saving Task Pane on the SolidWorks desktop.
"SolidWorks 2005 makes significant advances in the area of advanced modeling," said Mark Biasotti, CAD discipline lead at IDEO, an award-winning Palo Alto, Calif., design firm. "Designers doing complex part design should find this an important release. SolidWorks has made many enhancements to the loft feature, making it an even more powerful and general-purpose surfacing tool. A new smart selection will help reduce the amount of reference features that are needed to create geometry. This, coupled with the enhancements in surface features, should reduce the complexity of the model by 30 percent or more. Also, many of us in the consumer products sector that design injected-molded rubber parts
will appreciate the new Flex feature. We can create the part in its molded state, yet can use this feature to 'flex' it by bending, stretching, or twisting the part in its "used" state. For the kind of work that I do, this is one of the most significant releases I've seen."
SolidWorks 2005 includes significant new features specifically for machine designers, mold designers, and consumer product designers.
Machine Design - New for SolidWorks machine designers is a library that aggregates, in an on-screen window, hundreds of pre-designed parts that machine designers use most. These include ports, seal grooves and rings, and slots consistent with Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) specifications; parts that users have created themselves; 2D annotations and blocks; parts from the SolidWorks 3D ContentCentral service repository; and parts consistent with the authoritative Machinery's Handbook. Users can drag commonly used features from the library directly into their designs rather than searching for files or redesigning them from scratch. New weldment features automatically generate
cut lists, dictate mitred/angled cuts, and for the first time enable the quick creation of curved segments.
Mold Design - Building on the momentum of mainstream analysis software and the success of the COSMOSXpress embedded analysis product, SolidWorks 2005 now includes MoldflowXpress, a unique new feature for mold designers. The first mold design validation tool built into a solid modeling environment, MoldflowXpress enables mold designers to quickly and easily validate whether a plastic injection-molded part can be filled. The software breaks down traditional communication barriers between product designers and mold makers, saving time, eliminating errors, and fostering collaboration. SolidWorks 2005 also offers a new side core feature for mold designers that automatically creates all
side core and lifter geometry necessary to extract finished parts from molds.
Consumer Product Design - SolidWorks 2005 brings high-end consumer product design capabilities into the mainstream 3D CAD market, enabling designers to make more attractive, functional products more quickly and affordably. These new features automate the design of companion parts, ultra-sleek curves, and bodies that are bent, stretched, twisted, or tapered. An industry-first Indent feature lets users automatically form a recess in a specified part based on a tool body. For example, SolidWorks 2005 can automatically design the base for an electric toothbrush using the toothbrush body for reference. The user need not specify additional inputs. Enhanced loft features automate the design
of smooth, sleek, stylized surfaces to generate products with high consumer appeal. A new Flex feature lets users bend, stretch, twist, or taper solid bodies at any point or region in any direction, enabling dramatic changes to geometry in fewer steps.
System Enhancements - A new Task Pane collects all files, folders, and content in a single window on the SolidWorks 2005 interface, enabling users to work efficiently without the frustration of hunting for the resources they need. Users can find, open, drag, and drop files without leaving the SolidWorks interface and can view a list of all files currently loaded into their SolidWorks session. Other usability upgrades include a patent-pending Select Other feature that quickly peels away model faces to uncover interior parts. New productivity features include an Auto-Dimensioning feature that automatically adds chain, ordinate, or baseline dimensions to all entities in a drawing view,
letting users work faster than ever. A new DrawCompare tool highlights changes to any two drawings similar to the way Microsoft Word tracks changes in documents. New multi-user tools manage version control so users can cooperate as intended rather than waste time clarifying offline who did what when to which file. The new Design Binder also supports multiple users, letting them insert text or voice comments, files, and links into a SolidWorks file to track design intent and progress.
System Management - SolidWorks 2005 includes a number of enhancements for easier administration and improved performance. The software's new capabilities for simplified central administration of new and updated software save time for managers and ensure users have the latest tools. SolidWorks 2005 now includes the SolidWorks Rx tool, which helps users optimize their hardware and operating system environment for maximum performance. And for the first time, SolidWorks 2005 permits users to borrow network licenses even when disconnected from the network, enabling users to work in SolidWorks any time and anywhere they have their laptop.
SolidWorks 2005 also provides two new ways to modify the user interface for enhanced productivity. A new Application-Specific User Interface presents users with functionality specific to their industry segment, for example, consumer, machine, sheet metal, mold design, etc. The Copy Settings Wizard lets administrators provide consistent, custom sets of toolbars, menus, and icons to all of their SolidWorks users. By presenting users with the tools that apply directly to their design tasks, SolidWorks has streamlined the user interface while increasing designer productivity.
Data Management - PDMWorks product data management software, embedded in SolidWorks Office Professional, now includes a Copy Project feature that lets users copy all the documents from an existing project into a new one - a way to save time, effort, and quality by reusing successful designs. PDMWorks also includes a simplified interface that enables authorized users to access documents in the vault without special commands.
Integrated Analysis - Further building on the success of mainstream design analysis software, a new Displacement Value feature in COSMOSXpress automatically provides users with precise measurements for the movement of any object that displaces, shifts, or bends during design.
AutoCAD Users - SolidWorks continues to do more than any other company to serve 2D AutoCAD users who embrace 3D design solutions. For example, SolidWorks 2005 includes the DWGEditor tool, giving users the ability to edit 2D DWG files in their native format in an AutoCAD-like interface. The tool is ideal for design engineers who use 3D design software but need to periodically maintain legacy 2D designs. Other functionality added to help 2D users embrace 3D includes snaps, crossing select, repeat, trim, mirror, circle, and line features that help Autodesk users very quickly become proficient in SolidWorks software. Likewise, SolidWorks 2005 automatically creates associative part files
and drawing files from Autodesk Mechanical Desktop files a user imports, including assemblies and assembly drawings. Changes made to one file will automatically be reflected in the other.
"Our ongoing efforts to help design engineers quickly bring innovations to market have confirmed SolidWorks as the number-one supplier of mainstream 3D mechanical design software," said SolidWorks CEO John McEleney. "Customers are more satisfied with SolidWorks than any other 3D design product, and more AutoCAD 2D users choose SolidWorks than any other software. SolidWorks draws additional appeal from the expanding universe of users who bring their intelligence, creativity, and collaborative potential to the software. Together, as a community, we're building the bridge between ideas and innovation."
SolidWorks 2005 will be available in midsummer for purchase in 12 languages worldwide. It is available in three configurations: SolidWorks 2005 (the core modeling software in the company's 3D design product suites), SolidWorks Office, and SolidWorks Office Professional.
Last week we had a chance to meet with executives and developers at a press event hosted by SolidWorks in Chicago. We also saw SolidWorks 2005 demoed and had some brief hands-on time with it. It was a lot to take in in just a couple of days, but suffice it to say that SolidWorks 2005 looks like another great release and worth a close look if you're in the market for a new, replacement, or upgraded CAD seat. As yet, I have spent very little time with the product, so I honestly don't have a lot to say about it, but I will be getting very acquainted with it over the next few weeks and will report on it in detail. At first glance, however, there were a number of things that caught my eye.
First, SolidWorks can now be customized for specific design disciplines - machine, mold, and consumer product design, for example. SolidWorks has implemented specific features and interfaces for these specialized design areas that could provide significant time savings for those involved with those types of design tasks. On the topic of consumer product design, SolidWorks has added several features and capabilities that industrial designers will appreciate and use, such as a new flex and indent features, and loft improvements. The SolidWorks DWGEditor lets you edit DWG and DXF files and save them in their native format (going back all the way to AutoCAD 2.5). SolidWorks did this by
licensing and embedding IntelliCAD (an AutoCAD clone) from CADopia. Just like it did getting analysis into the hands and workflows of part designers with COSMOSXpress, SolidWorks has added MoldflowXpress to SolidWorks 2005 for analyzing plastic parts and molds based on geometry, material, temperature, and injection gate location. There are also major enhancements to sketching and drawings, but those will have to wait for a future Weekly. Like I said earlier, I'm just hitting the highlights of SolidWorks 2005, and will describe in more detail in the near future. Last week SolidWorks also announced the release of the entire COSMOS 2005 design analysis product line - COSMOSWorks,
COSMOSFloWorks, and COSMOSMotion. I'll cover that announcement in more detail next week.
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.