September 03, 2007
Autodesk Acquires PlassoTech
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Autodesk announced the acquisition of PlassoTech, a leading supplier of analysis and simulation software for the mechanical design market. The acquisition of PlassoTech will allow Autodesk to enhance the simulation and optimization capabilities found in Autodesk Inventor software making it easier than ever for customers to simulate, optimize and validate a complete digital prototype. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive and easy-to-use Digital Prototyping solution on the market," said Robert "Buzz" Kross, senior vice president of Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions. "The acquisition of PlassoTech will provide our customers with integrated simulation tools and sophisticated analysis functionality that complements their Digital Prototyping workflows."
Autodesk currently plans to integrate PlassoTech technology into the Inventor product family, augmenting existing finite element analysis (FEA) tools. The technology brings many distinct advantages to the Inventor product line, including:
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 allows 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.
Hundreds of companies globally in industrial machinery, transportation, consumer products and building and plant equipment use PlassoTech technology including: Innoventa LLC, Jupp Associates Ltd., Mammoth Inc., Microheat, OSSTEM Co., Ltd, Pentax, Rinehart Motion Systems LLC, Sejong Industrial Company Ltd, Subaru Telescope, Telops and Tokyo Electron Limited.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
It’s been a couple of years since I paid much attention to PlassoTech Inc. That was, however, before the acquisition by Autodesk. Although the company and its technologies remained popular in Asia, and especially Japan, its presence and visibility here in North America dwindled. It literally dropped off of the radar screens of many, but Autodesk kept paying close attention because the two had formed an increasingly close relationship over the past few years. It was then primarily known for its 3G.Design Simulation/Optimization Suite that included a unique product called 3G.author.
The product line was built on a collaborative backbone, and the 3G.Design Simulation/Optimization Suite 2004 provided a standalone, enterprise, and extended enterprise simulation, optimization, and communication solutions. It also offered bi-directional support, with peer-to-peer access, of CAD/CAE/PDM platforms including Inventor, Pro/Engineer, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, SmarTeam, NX, Parasolid, IGES, STEP, and SAT. The software also connected to other FEA programs, such as MSC.Nastran . With the acquisition, existing customers using CAD platforms other than Inventor will be supported, but that will ramp down in the near future, as Autodesk, not too surprisingly, will develop for and
support only Inventor in the future.
3G.author provides connectivity with Autodesk Inventor geometry “intelligence” from the sub-assembly level, including features and dimensions, that can dramatically simplify design optimization. Bi-directional associativity makes it possible for users to run fully adaptive, parametric-based structural, thermal and dynamic response simulations on Autodesk Inventor models.
For users who aren't familiar with the UI, a Simulation Wizard guides them through the process of setting up the design for simulation, which can be a daunting task without the Wizard. This simulation setup process includes specifying the simulation type, selecting material properties, defining loads and boundary conditions and obtaining the results.
Comprehensive contact capabilities for assembly analysis include separation between various parts with variable distances. Users can define arbitrary load distribution function on various parts of a given face. Web-based report generation allows the size/resolution of JPEG images to be changed and results can also be presented as an AVI that can be helpful in reviewing time response.
This acquisition is one of several that Autodesk has made over past few years, and one that should fit in well with the company’s Digital Prototyping strategy. 3G.author distinguishes itself from other design analysis packages in a couple of different and significant ways. First, it can be used collaboratively as it creates virtual/digital prototype assemblies from component parts, and the results from multiple analyses can be written in spreadsheets for comparative studies. Second, because 3G.author has parametric capabilities, you can check a design's structural or thermal parameters and optimize the design without having to rerun analyses. Because of its ability to perform
parametric simulation for validation and optimization, this is an interesting FEA product that does things a little differently than the competition and will likely prove a good acquisition with a positive result for Autodesk and Inventor.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Comments and Corrections to Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 Review
Last week we presented a brief review of our experience with Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8. Overall, we were impressed with what it could do, and the relative ease of use it exhibited for performing its functions.
We were contacted by Adobe concerning a couple of items in the bulleted “Pros” and “Cons” list at the end of the review article, so we stand corrected. The comments that Adobe and an updated “Pros” and “Cons” bullet list follow.
“First, reference the Cons’ bullet – Drawings cannot be imported.’ That's definitely a true statement as it relates specifically to MCAD’ drawing formats, but not all drawing formats – for example, 2D DWG).”
“Second is the Cons’ bullet about security capabilities, which includes the line For example, measure function cannot be disabled.’ In fact, Acrobat 3D users can disable measurement (as well as some other functions, such as cross-sectioning). By default, measurement is not available to Adobe Reader users who receive a 3D PDF file (it's only available when enabled by Acrobat 3D prior to distribution of the file). And it can be disabled for Acrobat or Acrobat 3D users who receive the file, as well. The person creating/distributing the file can go into the Secure tab in the product, choose Show Security Properties, choose Password Security under the Security
Method pull-down, then click on the Restrict editing and printing of the document . . .’ under Permissions, add a Change Permissions Password to the file, and save the file. If that's done, measurement should no longer be available to anyone who receives the file, whether they're running Acrobat 3D, Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
In a nutshell, below are some of the (updated) aspects of Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 that we experienced:
The ability to create and send a PDF of a model instead of model files containing intellectual property and/or proprietary information
The model PDF is read-only with the ubiquitous Acrobat Reader
Imports native SolidWorks, STEP, and Parasolid well
Level of output detail and accuracy can be set – U3D faceted (optimized performance) or PRC (greater tolerances and accuracy)
Ability to export a solid from a PDF
Adding comments and marking-up models Model rotating, highlighting, and changing color
Possible problems with large assemblies
MCAD drawings cannot be imported
Rotating models can be challenging
Zooming can fail if zoomed in too close
Some Parasolid imports placed parts in incorrect positions relative to origin of original model
Surfaces are sometimes imported when function is turned off
Relatively pricey - twice as expensive as Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional
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.
Blue Ridge Numerics announced the availability of CFdesign V9 for CATIA V5 R17. As an integrated and associative extension of CATIA V5 R17, CFdesign is an interactive 3D flow bench and thermal test rig providing engineers with the total product performance picture without the need for physical prototypes. The ability to conduct extensive trade-off studies upfront in the process leads to substantial downstream benefits including increased quality and innovation while reducing time-to-market, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), and warranty exposure. Geometry changes made within CATIA V5 R17 are automatically reflected in CFdesign without the need for translation
or conversion. With CFdesign there is always only one product model, and it is updated and managed within the V5 environment.
A monstrous vehicle developed in SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks and used to detect and remove mines in troubled areas around the world is an "actor" in the recently released Transformers movie. Force Protection, Inc. designed its Buffalo Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV) to be a lifesaver, but the vehicle's resume now boasts a Hollywood part as the evil Decepticon Bonecrusher. Already deployed globally and in use since 2003, the Buffalo MPCV several months ago made a trip to the DreamWorks movie studio where engineers and creative artists inspected the vehicle, which is 27 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 13 feet tall. It has a long
hydraulic arm with a rake attachment that can scoop up roadside explosives. The studio's creative designers constructed a digital model of the vehicle used to put the Bonecrusher in motion.
UGS PLM Software and Wayne Taylor Racing announced a technology sponsorship partnership formed earlier this year for Wayne Taylor Racing's No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype team to develop cars with the help of UGS PLM Software's digital product development technology. Wayne Taylor Racing, which competes in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, uses UGS PLM Software technology for designing its race cars. Wayne Taylor Racing utilizes UGS PLM Software's digital product development solutions, to reduce part development time and virtually evaluate various configurations to enhance overall performance of the race cars.
Autodesk announced that Pennsylvania College of Technology (Penn College), an affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, is training students on Autodesk Inventor. The School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College offers students two programs in drafting and CAD technology: a two-year associate's degree in CAD technology (drafting), and a four-year bachelor's degree in CAD product design. According to a College spokesperson, employers are taking note of how quickly Penn College students become productive and are crediting their extensive knowledge of Inventor, which allows them to hit the ground running without
requiring time to train on software. Penn College has also focused on preparing students for the Autodesk Inventor Certified Expert examination that demonstrates proficiency and expertise in Inventor software.
www.zwcad.org. The aim of the online forum is to provide a mechanism for users to communicate with each other and allow free discussion between ZwCAD users. The new live support option will also enable ZwCAD users to discuss and ask questions to ZwCAD technical support staff. With the new online forum, users now have an intuitive interface for publicly posting questions or answers about ZwCAD products, getting tips and learning from other users' experience. ZwCAD hopes to build a community where users
ZwCAD developers of 2D and 3D CAD products announced the debut of its interactive online discussion forum and live support options, both available now at,
can gain insightful knowledge and answers from fellow ZwCAD users. The ZwCAD forum and live support is open to all.
Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.