August 18, 2008
Siemens PLM Software Ships NX 6
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| by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Siemens PLM Software announced Version 6 of NX software is now available to Siemens customers worldwide.
"NX 6 promises to do two things. First, the work done to integrate Siemens PLM Software's synchronous technology should bring on-stream an incredibly powerful way of working that's unlike anything on the market today," said Al Dean, editor, DEVELOP3D Magazine. "When you consider background in knowledge-based design, automation, and complete process coverage, the addition of synchronous technology to NX software should make it an even more compelling solution. The second promising area in NX 6 is the addition of new levels of intelligence to the simulation environment and that's something on every users mind at the moment -- how to use simulation more effectively and more efficiently."
For design, NX 6 features Design Freedom powered by the breakthrough synchronous technology delivering up to a 100 times faster design experience than ever before. Synchronous technology combines with the existing NX capabilities so data does not need to be translated or rebuilt. This combines parametric and history-free approaches to speed design. NX 6 Design Freedom works naturally within existing user workflows for faster adoption.
For simulation, NX 6 delivers more than 350 user-driven enhancements encompassing 10 different applications for pervasive lifecycle simulation. NX 6 Advanced Simulation directly leverages Design Freedom powered by synchronous technology to enable the rapid evaluation of design modifications based on geometry from any CAD system. NX 6 combines unique 3-D geometry editing, automated abstraction and FE meshing tools with in-depth bottom-up finite element (FE) modeling and meshing tools. The new assembly capability for FE models enables engineers to integrate the separate simulation modeling efforts of distributed teams, such as suppliers and global design/analysis teams. NX 6 advanced
simulation handles the most demanding CAE challenges, providing a 30 percent reduction in physical prototypes.
In addition, the NX 6 CAE user interface and FE modeling options leverage "skins" to look like NASTRAN, ANSYS, ABAQUS or LS-DYNA.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
NX is a big product line from a big company. Version 6 of the NX product line continues to blur the lines of its origins (generally, and not absolute), namely, CAD/CAM from what was formerly known as Unigraphics (UGS) and simulation and advanced shape design from SDRC’s I-DEAS. Not too surprisingly, the company touted the last go-round, NX 5, as one of its most major upgrades in terms of raw functionality and large-assembly performance. Usability, not exactly a strength of NX up to then, finally got its fair due, although some users weren’t exactly ecstatic about the changes, at least initially.
This time around, NX6 seems to have four main areas of enhancement:
NX 6 extends users’ flexibility with what the company has termed Design Freedom powered by synchronous technology (more about this later because it is a big deal) that leverages direct editing when creating models. Design Freedom now combines the constraint-driven techniques with direct modeling in a technology that provides users with what the company claims is up to a 100 times faster design experience.
NX 6 handles complex problems through comprehensive and cohesive CAD/CAM/CAE. The company claims that NX 6 advanced simulation handles provides a 30 percent reduction in physical prototypes compared to previous releases.
The NX 6 unified process enables collaborative product development that leads to what the company says is 20 percent faster cycle times through process efficiency improvements, such as feature-based machining.
NX 6 provides greater productivity through major re-use enhancements such as scrapbook modeling that can improve cycle times by 40 percent. With NX 6 users can leverage multi-CAD data within their design, analysis, and manufacturing processes -- reducing the need to re-master information for improved analysis and machining times.
NX 6 expands the capabilities of Design Freedom with its new synchronous technology application layer. NX 6 Design Freedom provides new approaches to creating and editing geometry. A new “active selection” technique adds intelligence to designs when needed. These advanced selection methods automatically recognize logical and feature relationships even on non-native data. I never thought that Siemens exploited the potential of direct modeling, but that may change this time around with synchronous technology.
Our good friend and colleague, Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA, also thinks it’s a good idea whose time not only has come, but continues to proliferate. He said, “Synchronous technology breaks through the architectural barrier inherent in a history-based modeling system. Its ability to recognize current geometry conditions and localize dependencies in real time, allows synchronous technology to solve for model changes without the typical replay of the full construction history from the point of edit. Depending on model complexity and how far back in the history that edit occurs, users will see dramatic performance gains. A 100 times speed improvement could
be a conservative estimate.”
While synchronous technology has received a lot of attention even before it is actually released as a marketable product with the current versions of NX and Solid Edge, Siemens PLM Software, is hardly the first to promote the benefits and advantages of a non-history-based design approach with synchronous technology. Siemens now joins the ranks of Kubotek, CoCreate, IronCAD, and SpaceClaim who have already embraced it. However, Siemens’ take on the approach is quite different than the competition, some of my peers, and bloggers would have you think – it’s a lot more than direct modeling, or more precisely, direct model editing.
NX6 CAD also frees itself of the history tree found in most other parametric modeling packages, but with an interesting twist. Because there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to history- and non-history-based approaches, NX 6 actually provides the ability to switch between the two. I’ve always thought that one of the biggest plusses for a non-history—based approach is that 3D model data can be imported from just about any source for editing without the need for a translator/converter. The switching ability, however, is a novel idea.
While synchronous technology does provide non-history based direct modeling capabilities, it also provides the ability to employ dimension- and constraint-driven modeling. It is the combination of all of these capabilities that sets Siemens PLM Software’s synchronous technology apart from the competition. Synchronous technology will likely benefit users in the following areas:
Initial designs can be created quicker without having to concern yourself with pre-planning the design process for creating features
Design changes will likely be quicker because there is no history tree
No history tree will be handy capability in a multi-CAD environment
Without a history tree that can be restrictive, mechanical design might be easier to learn and better suited to “casual” users, as well as “full-timers.”
NX 6 continues to improve the user experience by providing users with greater flexibility through enhancements to its role-based user interface introduced in NX 5. The NX 6 user interface adds full screen mode for maximum graphics and customizable on-screen pop ups to speed interaction.
NX is available in the following different groupings for different purposes, although obviously they can be mixed and matched:
Industrial design and styling (CAID)
Engineering process management
While you can get into NX for less than $5,000, the price can tend to drive North in a hurry if you’re not careful. However, the initial price point puts it directly in line with others in the so-called mid-range, and the upper limit is not out of line with the so-called high-end (I’m not naming names, you know who’s who). The question I have as part of this is what becomes of Solid Edge? But that’s another story for another time . . . although from what I’ve seen and heard, the newest version Solid Edge is a good one.
So, is synchronous technology the Holy Grail for 3D CAD systems? I don’t think I’d go that far, but synchronous technology looks very promising as a major development that should benefit users and change the MCAD landscape. I’ll be taking a comprehensive, hands-on look at NX 6 in the next couple of months and will report on what I encounter and experience.
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.
ANSYS, Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of Ansoft Corp. in a series of mergers for approximately 12.2 million shares of ANSYS common stock, including 1.9 million shares pursuant to assumed stock options, and approximately $387 million in cash, plus expenses. ANSYS expects the acquisition to be modestly accretive to earnings the first twelve months, excluding acquisition-related costs, amortization of intangibles, the impact of deferred revenue purchase accounting treatment and expensing of stock compensation. The Company used a combination of existing cash and proceeds from approximately $355 million of committed bank financing to fund the transaction. The
combination of ANSYS' and Ansoft's software products and services is expected to give ANSYS the most comprehensive, independent engineering simulation software offerings in the industry. With over 60 direct sales offices and 21 development centers, on three continents, the combined company will employ approximately 1,700 people.
Stratasys announced it has begun shipping its new FDM 900mc direct digital manufacturing machine. Historically, Stratasys additive fabrication machines were used strictly for rapid prototyping, but the 900mc was developed specifically for use in direct digital manufacturing (DDM) applications. The machine is designed to serve this growing trend in low-volume manufacturing. All 17 of the first units sold will be used in direct digital manufacturing applications for either end-use parts or fabrication & assembly tools, and some of them will double in high-end functional prototyping applications. The 900mc development program was driven to produce high standards of accuracy &
repeatability. With a confidence factor of greater than 99%, the 900mc has an accuracy rating of +/- .005 inch [or +/-.0015 inch per inch, whichever is greater] (+/- .127 mm [or +/- .0015 mm per mm whichever is greater]). The Stratasys quality department completed an FDM 900mc accuracy study, using three FDM 900mc machines, and building 144 standard test parts with 27 measurements per part, for a total of 3888 measured dimensions. Results revealed that dimensions were 99.9% in specification; in other words, only one in one thousand measurements did not fall within the specification.
Siemens PLM Software announced that Boeing has signed a new software license agreement for Teamcenter. Siemens PLM Software technology currently enables Boeing to access current and accurate digital information wherever and whenever required. Boeing uses Teamcenter on several key programs to enhance collaboration and improve workflow management. As part of this agreement, Boeing will work with Siemens PLM Software to retire and replace selected legacy systems with Teamcenter. Teamcenter is being used for bill of material management, configuration management, change management and document management.
Aurora Flight Sciences engineer Adam Woodworth established a national record in an attempt at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) F5SOL endurance world record for a radio controlled solar powered model aircraft (no batteries onboard). The aircraft with a wingspan of 3.1m, weighs 1.35 kg, and was designed to maximize endurance with the smallest (cheapest) possible solar array. The aircraft flew for 7hrs 13min setting a new U.S. national endurance record. The world endurance record for this category of 11hrs 34 min was set in 1997 by Wolfgang Schaeper of Germany. Woodworth and his teammate Carl Engel are now in the process of ratifying the record with
the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Aurora Flight Sciences recruited Adam because of earlier work on this project while he was a junior at MIT. Woodworth's experience with this project puts him in a very small group of people who have actually flown an aircraft powered by the sun. The hobby has served him well; Woodworth is currently working as an aero-engineer on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Vulture Program awarded to Aurora Flight Sciences in April. The goal of the Vulture program is to develop and demonstrate a radical new unmanned solar aircraft that can stay aloft for five years.
Dolphins swim faster than they should be able to. For decades, physicists and biologists have declared dolphin speeds impossible, given the density of water and the animal’s muscle structure. This paradox is a problem that hopes to be unraveled by looking at the powerful motion (“kick”) of the dolphin’s tail. When Speedo, the swimwear producer, as well as one of the most tenacious users of new and innovative technology, wanted to learn more about the drag-reduction mechanism associated with this animal’s tail, they came to the professionals in the dynamics of fluid flow: Optimal Solutions Software, LLC. Optimal Solutions, developer of Sculptor, a
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) real-time design deformation technology, was chosen because the company works with the automotive, motorsports and aerospace industries—virtually any industry that designs components that entail fluid (gas or liquid) flow—to solve the respective companies’ “lift” and “drag” issues. Now working with Speedo Aqualab in Nottingham, United Kingdom, and its other technology partners ANSYS, and the University of Nottingham, Optimal Solutions is utilizing its Sculptor CFD real-time design deformation technology to enhance the thrust and minimize the drag relating to timing and articulation of a swimmer’s kick
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- October 09, 2008
Reviewed by 'Paul Hamilton'
One of the better commentaries on this topic. Thanks Jeffery
Siemens has claimed to introduce the next breakthrough in 3D CAD with what they are calling “Synchronous Technology”. While I have yet to get my hands on it, all the demos that are out there look reasonable good, as any demo should. The use model looks nice and the graphical interaction and feedback appears to be very nice.
On the contrary though, what Siemens has introduced, was in reality introduced 10 years ago when Hewlett Packard first imbedded the synchronous parametric solver from D-Cube into their product – SolidDesigner. Since then the product was moved out of HP into CoCreate, and is now a PTC product line. The product is now called PTC CoCreate Modeling. The D-Cube solver delivers synchronous solutions to geometrical relationships like dimensional parameters, coplanar faces, concentric faces, tangent faces, parallel faces, perpendicular faces, symmetry and coincidence. This capability allows an explicit – or “history-free” modeling system to apply needed relationships/parameters to 3D points, edges, faces, features, parts and assemblies on a b-rep solid model. The relationships are solved synchronously and simultaneously. It is a mature and robust technology. Certainly not a new breakthrough as described by Siemens.
HP/CoCreate was the first to introduce history-free modeling in 1994 and the first to deploy a synchronous parametric solver in a production history-free 3D CAD system. It is nice to see followers like SpaceClaim and Siemens ST validate what CoCreate has been doing for years. There are many companies out there that have already been taking advantage of the power and flexibility of so called “synchronous technology”, for many years, with their use of CoCreate Modeling.
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