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April 21, 2008
Alibre Introduces 3D Parametric CAM
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
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Alibre, Inc. announced the Alibre CAM product family, the first fully integrated 3D parametric Personal CAD/CAM solution that is accessible and affordable for manufacturers and machine shops of any size, even individuals. The Alibre CAM family of Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software products is integrated within Alibre's Alibre Design 3D parametric CAD software that offers the functionality of products like SolidWorks, Pro/ENGINEER and Autodesk Inventor at a price anyone can afford. Alibre CAM strengthens Alibre's product offering to include an integrated CAM system at a lower price than alternative products providing just CAD or CAM alone.

Alibre CAM products provide 2 1/2 to 5-axis CNC milling fully integrated into the Alibre Design interface, with complete parametric solid modeling of parts and assemblies and automated creation of 2D drawings and Bills of Materials (BOM). All components of the integrated solution are associative to the solid model, meaning that an update to a model automatically updates other related components. So when a part model is edited, all assemblies that use that part will automatically update, all 2D drawings of that part will automatically update, and now with Alibre CAM, the toolpaths created for that part will also automatically update.

Building on the success of Alibre Design Xpress, the first and only free 3D parametric CAD application that has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its release in August 2005, the entry-level member of the Alibre CAM product family, Alibre CAM Xpress, will be offered free of charge to a select group of manufacturing professionals. This initial group will then be authorized to invite colleagues and partners to also get Alibre CAM Xpress at no charge. Unprecedented in the CAD/CAM industry, Alibre CAM Xpress is the first and only 3D parametric CAD/CAM system available for free.

"Alibre CAM and Alibre CAM Xpress are going to disrupt the stagnant CAM software market," declares Greg Milliken, CEO of Alibre. "Today most CAM vendors are dependent on CAD vendors, so they either throw in their lot with a single vendor, or they try to ride the fence by working loosely with all of them for fear of upsetting anyone. They are so afraid of doing anything that will upset the status quo that they've relegated themselves to the table scraps of big CAD companies, such as a listing on their partner page and ticket to an annual user conference. Worse, with few exceptions, customers either get taken to the bank with an 'integrated' solution from one of the big guys like

Siemens/UGS, Dassault and PTC, or they settle for working with a hodge-podge of solutions from multiple vendors, or they have to give up real CAD capabilities altogether just to be able to afford the CAM software. Alibre is changing the status quo by providing a single, integrated parametric CAD/CAM solution for the mainstream machine shop at a fraction of the price of anything else on the market."

"Very, very impressive," said Mark Ecklund, President of Ecklund Engineered Products. "I have the whole process working from design to part. I designed a motorcycle triple clamp in Alibre, ran toolpaths in Alibre CAM, sent the posted G-Codes to a HAAS machining center and pressed the start button. The part has over 50,000 lines of G-Code and it worked perfectly the first time! It really is a complete design to finished part solution. Thanks for this product."

"At Tormach, we're dedicated to making high-quality CNC machinery affordable to the individual," explains Greg Jackson, CEO of Tormach LLC. "With Alibre CAM, the team at Alibre is showing a strong commitment to making powerful 3D design and manufacturing technologies that were once exclusive and 'high-end' available for everyone, even the individual."

Alibre CAM runs only inside of the Alibre Design user interface and can be purchased as a bundle with Alibre Design, or as an add-on to a previously purchased version of Alibre Design. The Alibre Design product family includes four versions: Alibre Design Xpress (Free), Alibre Design Standard ($995), Alibre Design Professional ($1,495) and Alibre Design Expert ($1,995).

Alibre CAM products provide a wide range of milling operations including profiling, pocketing, facing, v-carving, engraving and hole and thread milling, as well as a variety of roughing and finishing operations such as horizontal, parallel, and radial. Hole making operations such as drilling, tapping, boring and reverse boring are also supported, along with animated toolpath simulation. All Alibre CAM products come with numerous post-processors as well as a custom post-processor generator. The Alibre CAM product family consists of the following four products:

Alibre CAM Xpress; Add-On Price: Free. The entry-level version of Alibre CAM providing basic 2 1/2- and 3-axis milling that is being made available free to a select group of manufacturing professionals who can then invite other to obtain the product. Alibre CAM Xpress was formerly known simply as Alibre CAM and was bundled only with Alibre Design Expert.

Alibre CAM Standard; Add-On Price: $1,000. Industrial-strength 2 1/2- and 3-axis production milling system integrated with Alibre Design. Toolpaths are fully associative to your Alibre Design models.

Alibre CAM Professional; Add-On Price: $2,000. Includes the features of Alibre CAM Standard, adding 4-axis milling and advanced simulation operations for higher productivity and more complex shape machining.

Alibre CAM Expert; Add-On Price: $4,000. Includes Standard and Professional features, and adds 5th axis indexing (3+2 indexed machining) and many advanced machining operations and toolpath generation strategies for demanding production environments with sophisticated machining requirements.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Alibre has always had an interesting product line that is quite diverse, both in terms of cost (free and up) and associated capabilities, and the new CAM products should add positively to the mix. At the various price points, the Alibre CAD and now CAM applications are targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses for parametric modeling and machining, and associative 2D drafting and detailing.

Alibre CAM appears to be a capable 3D milling package built with CAM technology provided by MecSoft, makers of VisualMill. This product line could find a wide range of homes from manufacturing, prototyping, and hobbyist applications where the operator may not necessarily be a professional machinist. It comes available with several manufacturing methods and includes 2.5 and 3-axis milling, and approximately 50 pre-built post-processors. If Alibre has solved the CAM ease of use puzzle for “casual” CAM users, they will really have something.

With Alibre CAM you can define tool paths and run machining simulations on part models from directly with Alibre Design Expert. Once your simulations are complete and toolpaths defined you can output G code to your machine tool and start cutting parts. Sounds easy enough . . .

The significance of integration really comes into play when you have a design change to make, since the toolpaths are parametrically associated to the part, meaning that when you change a part, the toolpath updates automatically.

Alibre CAM is not MecSoft’s first foray into the CAD world, as a couple of years ago it helped launch RhinoCAM 1.0, a CAM plug-in that is integrated in Rhino. This plug-in is a general purpose machining program targeted at general machinists. RhinoCAM includes 2-1/2 axis, 3-axis, and hole making operations. This 2-1/2 and 3-axis solid/surface/STL manufacturing system is based on the MecSoft VisualMill CAM engine It comes with hundreds of post-processors and a post-processor generator that lets you create user definable post-processors. Like Alibre CAM, this product, too, is well-suited for the rapid-prototyping, hobby, and educational markets where ease of learning/ease of

use are major requirements.

I have spoken with Greg Milliken, CEO of Alibre a number of times over the years, and he always says that the company has several things in the pipeline that will be announced in the coming months, and Alibre CADM is testimony to this ongoing statement. Designing for manufacturing is not easy, and modeling for manufacturing is even harder. Alibre CAM appears to provide the freedom, control, and accuracy to model a lot of things and then manufacture them and its tooling directly from the same model.

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.

Dassault Systemes Announces New Release of Abaqus for CATIA V5

Dassault Systemes announced Abaqus for CATIA V5 R18 SP4 from its SIMULIA brand for realistic simulation. This release of Abaqus for CATIA V5 provides improved usability and robust design analysis capabilities directly in CATIA V5. Using Abaqus for CATIA V5, analysts can define and deploy approved analysis workflows for use across an enterprise. This capability enables design and engineering teams to improve collaboration while evaluating design performance through the use of common FEA models, technology, and methods that are synchronized with a CATIA V5 design. New and enhanced capabilities include:

  • Natural frequency analysis on the unloaded structure, or after any level of loading

  • ·        
  • Enhanced precision in setting up models involving contact -- nodal adjustments made by the Abaqus solver can be previewed in the user interface

  • ·        
  • Improved CATIA Octree meshing to provide a higher level of element quality when working with Abaqus models

  • ·        
  • Element quality checks implemented in CATIA specifically for Abaqus users

  • PTC announced that Arnold Maschinenbau, a German-based engineering company, has used CoCreate Modeling for the design and development of the Shark Observation Vehicle II (SOVII). Arnold Maschinenbau selected CoCreate Modeling to complete its first global environmental project of developing a submarine designed for research of the great white shark. Arnold Maschinenbau, was given less than a year to produce a submarine that could observe and document the behavior of sharks off the coast of South Africa. With this submarine being the first and only of its kind in the world, Arnold Maschinenbau was faced with creating a totally unique design. Throughout the submarine’s
    development, key challenges included dramatically adjusting the weight of the submarine, enlarging the cabin, and completely reworking the roof. With CoCreate Modeling’s explicit approach to 3D design, parts and assemblies could be created from scratch and quickly modified during design. Arnold conceptualized, designed, modified, and manufactured the salt water sub in nine months. As a result of the of the SOVII, Arnold Maschinenbau will use CoCreate Modeling for its next project – a submarine small enough to explore the behavior of sharks in shallow water near beaches.

    3D Systems' Technology Enables Blind Man to 'See' New Home

    3D Systems, the University of Louisville's Rapid Prototyping Center, and Harvest Technologies, a 3D Systems' Preferred Parts Service Provider, teamed up to create SLA and SLS models of a home for a Louisville, Ky., family featured on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Nineteen-year-old Patrick Henry Hughes, the family's eldest son, is blind and disabled. The "Extreme Makeover" team rebuilt the Hughes family home to be safe and wheelchair accessible for Patrick Henry. Models of the home were built with 3D Systems' technology by the University's RPC and Harvest. Patrick Henry was given the models so he could "see" the shape and layout through touch while his family was experiencing
    the thrill of visually seeing their new home. The University's RPC built a nine-piece model on a 3D Systems' SLS System with DuraForm PA Plastic. It took 22 hours to build the 18 by 15 by 7 inch model and another 10 hours for finishing touches. At the same time, Harvest Technologies, a full-service, high-capacity provider of Rapid Prototyping services, built a slightly larger three-piece model of the home. The roof and ceiling were made with Accura 25 Plastic on a 3D Systems' Viper Pro SLA System. A Sinterstation Pro SLS System created the body of the house - built in DuraForm PA Plastic.

    UQM Technologies' Electric Motor Turns the Propeller as Boeing Successfully Completes First Flight of Manned Fuel Cell Powered Airplane

    UQM Technologies, a developer of alternative energy technologies, announced that a UQM electric propulsion system was turning the propeller when Boeing, for the first time in aviation history, flew a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The recent milestone is the work of an engineering team at Boeing Research & Technology Europe (BR&TE) in Madrid, with assistance from industry partners around the world. A two-seat Dimona motor-glider with a 16.3-meter (53.5-foot) wingspan was used as the airframe. It was modified by BR&TE to include a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power a UQM electric motor coupled to a conventional propeller. Three test flights took place in February and March. During the flights, the pilot of the experimental airplane climbed to an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level using a combination of battery power and power generated by hydrogen fuel cells. Then, after reaching the cruise altitude and disconnecting the batteries, the pilot flew straight and level at a cruising speed of 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) for approximately 20 minutes on power solely generated by the fuel cells. According to Boeing researchers, PEM fuel cell technology potentially could power small manned and unmanned air vehicles. Over the longer term, solid oxide fuel cells could be applied to
    secondary power-generating systems, such as auxiliary power units for large commercial airplanes. Boeing does not envision that fuel cells will ever provide primary power for large passenger airplanes, but the company will continue to investigate their potential, as well as other sustainable alternative fuel and energy sources that improve environmental performance.

    Siemens PLM Software Delivers Parasolid Version 19.1

    Siemens PLM Software announced Parasolid Version 19.1 (V19.1) software, the latest release of its geometric modeling component software. The emphasis in this latest release of Parasolid is on providing support for sophisticated workflow operations where greatest productivity gains can be realized in complex design and manufacturing processes. Modeling enhancements across a broad range of functional areas reflect the demands of a global community who develop applications based on Parasolid. Enhancements include:

  • A new ability to perform hollow operations on a selected portion of a model which gives applications greater flexibility and speed especially when editing large, complex models.

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  • The ability to generate a surface from a sparse set of points and normal vectors providing a fast and powerful design tool especially in the context of existing geometry.

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  • New functionality for the automatic detection and repair of self intersecting geometry which permits sophisticated sequences of operations to be completed without intervention from the application or end-user, resulting in high integrity models produced in significantly less time. In addition, Parasolid V19.1 is the first release to support Apple's 64-bit Mac OS X Leopard, leveraging the power of 64-bit technology.

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

    This Week

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    INCAT Expands its User Group Web Chapter Program with Event for Inventor Users

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    Nihon Weed Purchases Sinterstation Pro SLS System from 3D Systems

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    Engineous Software Announces New Product Releases

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    nCode Adds Advanced Statistical Analysis Tools to ICE-flow GlyphWorks

    Packeteer Offers WAN Optimization for AutoCAD

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    Delcam to Show Knowledge-Based Dental Machining System

    Cimatron Appoints GibbsCAM Reseller as Distributor for Czech Republic and Slovakia

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    Related MCAD News

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    US Manufacturing Business IT Expenditures by Category and Level 2007-2012 Report Published

    Industrial Manufacturing Industry to Create Almost 12,000 Jobs During the Second Quarter in the U.S., an Industrial Info News Alert

    SchemaLogic Connector for Documentum Receives 'Designed for EMC Documentum' Accreditation

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    Boeing Executives to Provide Update About 787 Dreamliner Program

    IBM Develops "Rehearsal Studio" to Let You Practice Your Job in 3D

    CoroWare Announces Community Technology Preview of CoroWare ClassPack for Microsoft Robotics Studio

    Spending Down as U.S. Industrial Manufacturing Industry Completes Capital and Maintenance Projects During Q1 2008

    EDS Recognized for Service Desk Excellence

    Tata Consultancy Services Wins New Multi-Year Deal With Chrysler LLC

    3DVision Technologies Sponsors Formula Buckeye SAE Race Team

    SigmaQuest's Business Intelligence Software Optimizes Real-Time Access to Manufacturing Test Data From Agilent Technologies' Equipment 

    ATX Forum at SAE to Focus on Shifts in Marketing for Generation Y

    DENSO Celebrates Grand Opening of New Automotive Electronics Plant

    Microdesk Becomes First Google SketchUp Authorized Training Center in US

    Oracle Improves Decision-Making at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    ABB Robotics Signs Long-Term Lease Agreement

    Airbus Selects IBM and OATSystems for World's Largest RFID-enabled Manufacturing Initiative

    Chrysler and Nissan Confirm New OEM Product Agreements

    Ford Scientists Look to Nanotechnology for Performance, Fuel Economy Improvements

    ATEK Opens Medical Device Manufacturing Facility in Costa Rica

    LED Driver Can Drive Up to 8 HB LEDs for Automotive Designs

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    Corporate Moves

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    Ford Further Integrates Global Product Development and Purchasing Teams

    Industry Events

    ESPRIT 2008 by DP Technology to be exhibited at Subcon 2008, Birmingham, England, April 22-24

    3D Systems Begins Registration for its 2008 World Conference

    MMA Releases 2008 Michigan Manufacturing Agenda

    Webinar Series on Validation and Optimization Focuses on Design with Composite Materials

    ESPRIT 2008 by DP Technology to be exhibited at Moldmaking Expo 2008, Novi, Mich., April 23-24

    FANUC Robotics' West SMART Center to Host Intelligent Robotic Applications Forum

    Corporate Newsletters

    QuadriSpace Newsletter - April 2008

    Engineering Design Newsletter from EGS

    TopSolid' Newsletter Issue #29, March 2008

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.