ALGOR Launches FEMPRO To Compete With Femap
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ALGOR Launches FEMPRO To Compete With Femap

ALGOR, Inc., a provider of design, analysis and simulation software, announced the immediate availability of FEMPRO, which has been designed to compete with Femap in the arena of pre- and post-processing for NASTRAN-compatible and other finite element analysis (FEA) software.

"FEMPRO is a modern, easy-to-use and complete system with full finite element modeling, results evaluation and presentation capabilities. Using FEMPRO, users build FEA models which can be processed by a variety of solvers for the purpose of performing mechanical simulation, which is often called virtual prototyping," said Bob Williams, ALGOR Product Manager. Over the past 20 years, FEMPRO was developed as a primary component of ALGOR's complete finite element modeling and analysis software system. Beginning in 2002, ALGOR began adding full NASTRAN compatibility to its software line. This includes the ability for FEMPRO, its finite element modeling and post-processing tool, to create models for NASTRAN processors and to read in the results from NASTRAN analyses to graphically display result contours including displacements, stresses, mode shapes resulting from vibration, temperature profiles and other engineering parameters.

Now, for the first time, ALGOR is making FEMPRO widely available for users of other finite element systems including NASTRAN solvers, which are offered by a number of companies such as MSC.Software and UGS Corp.

This is a pretty hefty aim and claim by ALGOR to start the year off with - taking on UGS' popular Femap product line with FEMPRO. It's interesting how broad the spectrum of CAD products FEMPRO works with is, including UGS NX and Solid Edge. This is the beginning of a trend I see coming. By that I mean more competition within the CAE product space, including FEA, CFD, etc. At present, there are a lot of good CAE tools out there, from large and small companies alike. Vendor company size is actually becoming less and less significant, because there is a growing number of very innovative, capable, and economical CAE tools coming out of relatively small companies - small, both in terms of employees and current revenues - and this forces the big players to keep up the pace, as well.

CAE is actually a good place to be (as it has been for the past couple of years), because overall, it is one of the few bright spots in terms of growth, compared with some other segments of technical/engineering software which are relatively flat, including CAD, CAM, and PLM. I think to a large extent, CAE can attribute its growth rate to the fact that more and more companies realize that performing analysis early in the design process can save money - the earlier the more savings realized. CAE has also become more affordable to a greater number of potential users, both in terms of dollars expended and a relatively short learning curve compared to years past when a PhD was practically required to understand how to run them and interpret their results. Admittedly, these can still be complex applications to optimize and there will always be a place for CAE simulation/analysis specialists, but these tools are finding their way into the hands and work places of more designers and engineers every year - and that's a good thing.

As I said at the outset, the competition is really going to begin heating up in the CAE space - I think more this coming year than ever before. I just wonder, though, if and when this competition will lead to market consolidation, much like what has transpired in the past and continues in the CAD space. Whatever you want to call CAE - virtual prototyping, simulation, whatever - this market promises to be an interesting one to watch in terms of innovation, competition, and potential growth.

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.

Leatherman Tool Group Switches To SolidWorks
Leatherman Tool Group has standardized on SolidWorks to help expand its line of knives and multi-tools. The company chose SolidWorks software over competing offerings because of its control and accuracy in the design of complex blades, tool heads, handles, and accessories. Leatherman offers 18 different multi-tools - each including a combination of knife blades, screwdrivers, openers, saws, pliers, wire cutters, files, awl punches, rulers, clamps - as well as six models of folding knives. Despite the numerous features, each product fits in the palm of the hand with contoured handles and other ergonomic features. Leatherman will also use SolidWorks' COSMOS design analysis software to check the integrity of designs; PDMWorks product data management software will help Leatherman manage files, versions, and modifications, and SolidWorks' eDrawings collaboration tool will streamline communications.

ANSYS Expands Relationship With AREVA
ANSYS announced that AREVA, an energy technology firm, has signed a worldwide corporate agreement with the company for three years. This new global agreement expands the long- term relationship between the two companies and allows for more efficient access to simulation technology and better coordination of the use of this technology across the AREVA enterprise. AREVA has chosen ANSYS as a preferred supplier of simulation software. ANSYS simulation software provides design optimization solutions for a wide variety of equipment used in AREVA's nuclear projects and is used to perform multi-field analyses, such as seismic calculations of concrete buildings, thermo-mechanical fatigue of pressure vessels, and cask transport calculations.

CoCreate 2D Drafting-To-3D Modeling Free Upgrade Offer
CoCreate Software announced a special upgrade offer for CoCreate Designer Drafting customers - upgrade to OneSpace Designer Modeling for free. The only out-of-pocket cost is the first year of support, which must be purchased for each upgrade license for $1,390. In addition to full support, each license includes access to all major and minor upgrades throughout the year. Since Designer Drafting is packaged into Designer Modeling, there is no loss of functionality -- only the addition of 3D power. This upgrade opportunity ends February 28, 2006 or when all 1000 upgrades available within this offer have been requested. Only Designer Drafting customers that have not yet added Designer Modeling to their CoCreate product portfolio are eligible for this offer, and other conditions may apply.

Boeing Ends 2005 With New Records For Airplane Orders
The Boeing Co. recorded 1,002 net commercial airplane orders during 2005, setting a new Boeing record for total orders in a single year. The 2005 total surpasses the previous Boeing record of 877 net orders in 1988, which includes both Boeing and then-McDonnell Douglas totals; the companies merged in 1997. Boeing posted 272 net orders for commercial airplanes in 2004. Gross orders in 2005, which exclude cancellations and conversions, totaled 1,029. Three airplane programs -- the 737, 777 and 787 programs -- also achieved individual records with net orders of 569 for 737s, 154 for 777s and 235 for 787s. Previous record totals for these programs were 438 737s in 1996, 116 777s in 2000, and 56 787s in 2004. The 747 and 767 programs also had a very successful sales year with 43 and 15 net new orders, respectively. In total, more than 72 different customers ordered Boeing airplanes in 2005, including passenger airlines, cargo carriers, leasing companies and private customers. The 2005 totals include 28 aircraft from customers who wish to remain unidentified.

LEGO Group Unveils LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Robotics Toolset
LEGO Group announced LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, a new system that redefines the consumer robotics category the company created in 1998. Smarter, stronger and more intuitive than ever, LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is a robotics toolset that provides opportunities for inventors, robotics fanatics and LEGO builders ages 10 and older to build and program robots that do what they want. Building upon the success of the globally-renowned Robotics Invention System, the next generation of LEGO MINDSTORMS makes it quicker and easier for robot creators to build and program a working robot in just 30 minutes. Simultaneously, new technologies and expanded sensor capabilities add a level of sophistication to excite and challenge more experienced robot creators. The heart of the new system is the NXT brick, an autonomous 32-bit LEGO microprocessor that can be programmed using a PC, or for the first time in the retail offering, a Mac. After building their robots, users create a program within easy-to-use yet feature-rich software, powered by LabVIEW from National Instruments. LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT will be available in August 2006

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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