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December 11, 2006
UGS Releases Parasolid V18.1
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor


by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Corp. announced the availability of Parasolid version 18.1 (V18.1) software, the latest release of its geometric modeling component software. Parasolid V18.1 includes numerous customer-driven enhancements that further increases automation and ease-of-use across a broad range of functionality.

This latest release marks a significant milestone in the continued growth of Parasolid-based software, as the estimated user-base of Parasolid-powered applications has now exceeded two million seats. UGS licenses Parasolid based on a "level playing field" policy that ensures all Parasolid customers will get access to software fixes and enhancements at the same time they are made available to UGS. Due in part to this policy, and Parasolid's widespread success in diverse design, manufacturing and analysis applications, industry analysts have been quick to recognize Parasolid's impressive growth.

In fact, in a new article about the 3D Component Software Market being issued tomorrow in Cyon Research's CADCAMNet publication, the firm's vice president and Chief Visionary, Dr. Joel Orr, cites Parasolid's strong growth as a positive indicator for the future of the market, saying, "Look at the success of UGS' Parasolid, which just broke the two-million user mark. UGS' success is in no small part due to the company's commitment to a level playing field (policy) ... (Nearly) all other MCAD vendors who promote their own kernels as components don't live up to that standard ... "

Parasolid V18.1 includes numerous extensions in key functional areas that directly benefit customer applications. New modeling functionality for advanced blending, general sweeping and complex tapering allows greater support for design intent, while end-user productivity is boosted through increased automation in offsetting, patterning and imprinting. Interoperability support now includes enhanced continuity in geometry construction, together with optimizations in tolerant modeling and model interrogation, and new options in rendering, previewing and tracking have also been delivered. In addition, UGS has extended Parasolid's continuous, multi- level testing program to over 1.5 million automated overnight tests, ensuring that Parasolid will continue to lead the industry in product quality.

Also announced was Version 9.1 of Parasolid Bodyshop, a Parasolid- based toolkit that repairs, optimizes and validates 3D models imported into Parasolid to maximize downstream success in modeling and interoperability. This release includes enhancements in output pre-processing, tolerancing, quality and performance.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

About 10 years ago a good friend and colleague promised me that geometric modeling kernels would be extinct by 2005. He made the same promise five years ago, insisting that the end was near. He based his promises on the belief that many MCAD and other types of visualization companies would grow tired of licensing the technology and just develop it in-house.  Well, here it is 2006 and geometric modeling kernels still appear to be alive and well, because developing a modeling kernel is a very complex and demanding (expensive) proposition.

In the world of modeling kernels there are two major players, Parasolid, owned by UGS, and ACIS, owned by Dassault Systemes. There are a number of other smaller players that handle relative bits and pieces of geometry, but Parasolid and ACIS are the big guns that supply a majority of the geometric "heavy lifting" for many MCAD products that we're all familiar with. Customers that employ these modeling kernels will very likely do so for some time to come based on the expense and expertise that is required to develop and maintain them. However, a surprising number of MCAD companies do, in fact, handle their own modeling kernels, although, admittedly in my opinion, with varying degrees of success. For this discussion, though, we'll stick to Parasolid.

Parasolid is a geometric modeling kernel originally developed by a company known as ShapeData that is now owned by UGS Corp. Like ACIS, Parasolid can be licensed (and that term has a number of different definitions that vary by software vendor) by other companies for use in their 3D computer graphics software products as an integral 3D solid modeling software component. Also like ACIS, it is used in many CAD, CAM, CAE, product visualization, and CAD data exchange packages. Just some of the examples that employ Parasolid include UGS NX (Unigraphics), SolidWorks, Solid Edge, Femap, Powershape, MasterCAM, DesignFlow, DesignSpace, STAR-Design, and Moldflow. This is all possible because Parasolid functionality is underpinned by configurable mechanisms that help integrate Parasolid into a wide range of applications.

Parasolid's contains over 750 functions geometric/mathematical that include model creation and editing utilities such as Boolean modeling operators, feature modeling support, advanced surfacing, thickening and hollowing, blending and filleting, and sheet modeling. Parasolid also provides tools for direct model editing, including tapering, offsetting, geometry replacement and removal of feature details with automated regeneration of surrounding data. Finally, Parasolid provides graphical and rendering support, including precise hidden-line, wireframe, and drafting, as well as tessellation (that is, when a shape is repeated and covers a plane without gaps or overlaps - in other words, tiling).

When exported out from the parent software package, a native Parasolid geometric entity usually has the file extension .x_t. I believe that most Parasolid files can only communicate and migrate 3D solids and/or surface data. As far as I know Parasolid files cannot directly communicate and migrate 2D data, such as lines and arcs, although I will probably hear from UGS if that is not the case.

So, it's clear to me (and my formerly insistent friend) that geometric modeling kernels, such as Parasolid and ACIS, are not going away any time soon. Most software companies that employ them are able to devote their time and energies to other core product functionality that, hopefully, distinguishes them from the competition.

 

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.

High-Profile Boardroom Furniture Designed With SolidWorks

Gordon Russell
, whose boardroom tables, executive desks, and system workstations grace the offices of several major companies, uses SolidWorks to design the custom furniture. The 83-year-old U.K. company adopted SolidWorks to accelerate time to market for its specialty office furniture products. Headquartered in London, Gordon Russell has established a reputation for quality, not quantity. It prides itself on the handcrafted elegance for which its furniture is known. As customers increasingly demanded more specialization, working in 2D became cumbersome and sometimes resulted in errors
that forced craftsmen to scrap the work. That's when the company chose to standardize on SolidWorks software. Gordon Russell uses SolidWorks to modify different product lines to suit customers' unique needs. The software's associativity means engineers can adjust one component of a design, and SolidWorks will automatically adjust the rest of the design accordingly. The company also is developing a library of standard parts that it will be able to quickly add to custom designs to accelerate development.


Autodesk
announced that KONE Corp., one of the world's largest providers of elevators and escalators, is integrating 3D into their 2D design processes with Autodesk Inventor. Leveraging the 3D capabilities of Autodesk Inventor lets KONE focus on functional design, the creation of designs based on the functional requirements of a project. As a result, function drives form. KONE had historically done most of its modernization design work in 2D. The company saw the advantages it could gain by integrating 3D design into these
modernization projects, where the constant challenge is to incorporate a universal product into many different brands, models and types of escalators.


Altair Engineering
announced that it has collaborated with the ESI Group to integrate Altair's PBS Professional and e-Compute into ESI Group's Open Virtual Try-Out Space (VTOS) solution. Integrating PBS Professional grid technology will provide benefits from ESI Group's computing resources, while the e-Compute Web Portal enables users to submit and manage jobs from anywhere via an Internet connection. Open VTOS is a suite of virtual engineering applications that realistically simulate a
product's behavior during testing. Open VTOS also fine tunes the manufacturing process in accordance with desired product performance, and evaluates the environment's impact on product performance. Using realistic material physics to provide virtual solutions, Open VTOS replaces the lengthy trial-and-error processes on physical prototypes.


IronCAD
announced iCAD Solutions Ltd has joined its reseller network in the United Kingdom as an IronCAD exclusive dealer. Simon Keast, iCAD's founder, is the former president of Annex Technology Ltd, a UGS reseller. Having previously focused on high-end CAD solutions, Keast, realized this form of CAD implementation was not suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. "The problem with high-end CAD in a small or medium-sized company is that overhead from training and system maintenance can cripple the business. IronCAD retains all the
power and functionality of high level CAD systems but does not require extensive training and maintenance," said Keast. IronCAD's scene environment supports a drag-and-drop interface. Users can create models piece by piece without worrying about design intent. While history-based parametric modeling systems constrain users during the design phase, IronCAD allows users to manipulate parts and assemblies at any time. Significant changes can be made to a model without re-starting the project.


Vero International Software
announced that its parent company VI Group plc has acquired Camtek Ltd, the UK developer of PEPS software for the production CAM market, incorporating mill/turn applications, wire EDM, 5 axis laser cutting, and tube cutting. The tube cutting products apply to the architectural and construction environments where an increasing number of buildings are being built around a steel framework. Camtek calculates the correct intersection and cutting patterns for joining multiple tubes and sizes. Camtek's
wire EDM solution is recommended by many of the worlds leading manufacturers of wire erosion machines. Other recent developments include the revamp of its core 2½ axis and 3D CAM products with the inclusion of advanced mill/turn strategies and high speed milling.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.