April 23, 2007
UGS Rolls Out NX 5
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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UGS Corp. announced Version 5 of NX software - the next-generation of its digital product development software designed to help companies develop innovative products faster and more cost-efficiently.

NX 5 delivers breakthrough technology innovations to the market, including the highest level of productivity improvements in NX software to date. UGS is supporting the launch with a series of "Greater Powers"-themed marketing events around the world.

"The CAD/CAM/CAE market is core to UGS' future growth, and NX 5 drives our vision to be the market leader in this strategic segment by setting new standards through key new technologies," said Tony Affuso, chairman, CEO and president of UGS. "The next generation of PLM solutions must facilitate better decisions across a global supply chain. The marriage of technologies inside NX 5 will dramatically increase the ability of companies to effectively leverage knowledge across their business. That's why it is core to our PLM vision."

NX 5 incorporates what UGS calls "Greater Powers" breakthrough innovations, including:
  • More flexibility - NX 5 provides companies with "Design Freedom" to work effectively with all legacy data to maximize reuse without redesign. Benchmark results provided 50 percent greater efficiency than other competing systems. In addition, NX 5 cuts through the constraints of parametric models enabling compressed design times and reductions in costly errors.
  • More coordination - NX 5 introduces Active Mockup to the industry to enable engineers to work more efficiently in the context of a total product. Greater visibility and coordination in extended design reviews enable more design iterations in less time.
  • More productivity - NX 5 increases workflow productivity through a new user interface and NX "Your Way" customization. Customer benchmark results indicated productivity increases of 20 percent. In addition, a third-party benchmark indicated that NX 5 outperformed all leading competitors in workflow productivity tests.
  • More strength - NX 5 seamlessly integrates CAD, CAM and CAE into a unified, open environment for increased product and process information efficiency. Customer benchmark results indicated 50 percent faster analysis workflows compared to a leading competitor. In addition, manufacturing machining time is reduced by 20 percent.
  • "NX 5 enables design for commonization, not just in terms of part reuse and standardization, but more importantly, for knowledge-based engineering methods and best practices through an extremely intuitive user interface across a unified set of industrial design, CAD, CAM and CAE capabilities," said Dick Slansky, senior analyst, ARC Advisory Group.

    "UGS has increased the efficiency of its CAD system through new key features in NX 5," said Gisela Wilson, director of PLM Applications Program, IDC. "UGS calls these features 'Design Freedom' because they free designers from the constraints imposed by history-based or parametric systems. Designers can alter design geometry where it occurs without having to undo the design tree. This is particularly valuable for suppliers who support multiple OEMs with multiple CAD systems."

    NX 5 delivers key "Design Freedom" features to enable companies to develop complex products through an efficient design process. Flexible design tools eliminate constraints imposed by parametric systems. For example, Advanced Selection Intent automatically selects geometry and infers the correct relationship, which allows users to quickly make design changes. The ability to work on geometry without defined features or history adds an important new level of flexibility, enabling changes to be made in minutes that may require hours in other systems.

    "UGS' approach to 'Design Freedom' in NX 5 creates flexibility that takes CAD/CAM/CAE to another level of maturity," said Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA. "One important example, NX 5's approach provides the flexibility to deal with last-minute design changes due to market shifts and design-for-postponement strategies."

    In addition to flexible design tools, NX 5 embeds the JT data format - the PLM industry's most widely used lightweight 3D data format for product visualization and collaboration - to support files from multiple CAD programs to speed the design process.

    NX 5 also improves concurrent design by enabling companies to reduce rework and improve collaboration by creating interfaces to parts, then publishing and managing them in Teamcenter software, UGS' industry leading PLM portfolio. By publishing part interfaces, companies can simplify impact analysis, streamline change notifications, and reduce change conflict in concurrent design scenarios by up to 60 percent based on beta customer feedback.

    "NX 5's new assembly constraints capabilities and reuse library, accessed directly from the Teamcenter managed environment, will help us to design our products much faster," said Gyeongho Moon, C4 Group Manager, LG Electronics. "JT is already a part of our design review and therefore we have strong interest in the new NX 5 Active Mockup. It will save us time through reduced translation efforts and maintained associativity with the NX model."

    NX 5 introduces the industry's first Active Mockup technology. Active Mockup enables engineers to use one product for instantaneous review of design changes in the full context of their total product.

    "UGS is the first PLM vendor to introduce Active Mockup," adds Versprille. "They have solved a problem that originally required a completely separate application. By eliminating this need, they've streamlined the design process, saving customers development time and money."

    "Freedom to innovate combined with JT interoperability, directly addresses the reality of suppliers having to support multiple CAD systems for their OEM clients," adds Slansky. "NX 5 will enable companies to consolidate their software investments while significantly improving the productivity of engineering resources."

    Active Mockup rapidly modifies model data regardless of its origin and outperforms NX's nearest competitors. In addition, NX 5's embedded JT technology delivers five times the graphics performance and reduces memory usage by 70 percent. For Teamcenter/NX users, this enables true configuration-driven variant mockup.

    Workflow productivity is improved in all areas of NX. Customer tests indicate an overall 20 percent productivity improvement with the new innovative user interface. In addition, a third-party benchmark indicated that NX 5 outperformed all leading competitors in workflow productivity tests. Modern redesigned menus and dialogs adhere to the latest standards and they are implemented consistently throughout the software and clearly communicate required input and command steps.

    "NX 5 looks cool," said Paul Philips, staff engineer, Global CAD/CAM Development, Kennametal. "I think UGS has done an excellent job on the new user interface. It's sure to win over new customers with its professional look and feel, and existing customers should be able to adapt extremely quickly. We're also looking forward to using the new assembly mating constraints."

    NX's new user interface also includes enhanced role-specific interfaces, which enable companies to present NX commands appropriate to user function and expertise. This cuts initial training time by as much as 50 percent, based on an independent audit. In addition, increased integration with Teamcenter delivers productivity gains up to 90 percent in common functions such as inserting standard parts.

    UGS continues to differentiate its products through an emphasis on openness that is integrated throughout its PLM portfolio. NX 5 unifies data from competitive systems as well as NX's own CAD/CAM/CAE technologies to speed and streamline product development. In CAE, NX 5 delivers more simulation power and performance than ever before. Recent customer benchmarks demonstrated 10 times faster process time improvements over the nearest competitor.
    Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

    NX is a big product line from a big company that got a big rollout at a big event (the SAE 2007 World Congress) to a big audience representing a big industry (automotive). I couldn’t personally attend the official North American launch, but I did have a good conversation the week previous with Paul Brown, NX Marketing Director. Although he was in the UK and I was in Colorado, we managed. At the outset he said any question was fair game, except for anything having to do with the pending UGS acquisition by Siemens. Fair enough . . . there was plenty to discuss with the new version of the NX product line.

    Version 5 of the NX product line continues to blur the lines of its origins (and these are general, not absolute), namely, CAD/CAM from Unigraphics and simulation and advanced shape design from SDRC’s I-DEAS. Not too surprisingly, the company touted 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 now, seems to have been given its fair due this time around, that should quiet at least some users’ grumblings.

    One of the more interesting new features of NX 5 is Active Mock Up that the company claims will change for the better the way complex assemblies are put together. The new mock up and review capabilities are embedded into NX’s design environment, so you can now review parts and assemblies and make the necessary design changes in that environment. This eliminates the need to maintain separate files for two processes, reducing file management overhead associated with having to keep disparate files in the design and mock up systems. Traditionally, these two activities required
    stopping one to perform the other. Also, CAD data has been to “heavy” to be used unaltered for other purposes. That, too has changed with NX 5 thanks to the ability to convert the data UGS’ JT lightweight data format and the introduction of new direct modeling capabilities that enable lightweight visualization. With JT, UGS has always claimed that several operations can be performed that don’t requiring precise, solid geometry; a process, that boosts capacity and performance, while at the same time, reduces memory usage and rendering time.

    This all sounds great, because all parties concerned benefit from the ability to alter the design within a mockup session. However, changes in the mock up do not automatically update the native CAD file, so you still have to go back and do this work in the original CAD file at some point.

    Something I wanted to touch on is the fact that like CoCreate’s OneSpace Modeling and Kubotek’s KeyCreator, NX 5 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 5 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.

    NX is available in the following different groupings for different purposes, although obviously they can be mixed and matched:
  • Industrial design and styling (CAID)
  • Design (CAD)
  • Simulation (CAE)
  • Tooling (CAM)
  • Machining (NC)
  • Engineering process management
  • Although I would imagine that one operating system (Windows) generates the vast majority of revenue, NX 5 is available on the following platforms:
  • Windows XP and Vista – 32- and 64-bit
  • UNIX – 32- and 64-bit
  • Linux – 64-bit
  • Apple Mac OS X – 64-bit
  • Mr. Brown did say, however, that Linux does have a decent following in Europe, and from a performance standpoint, is quite well paired with NX 5.

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    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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