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June 28, 2004
Ashlar-Vellum's Cobalt Helps Launch Rutan's SpaceShipOne Design
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!

Ashlar-Vellum's Cobalt Helps Launch Rutan's SpaceShipOne Design

Ashlar-Vellum congratulated Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites for the successful launch and completion of the world's first private space mission. Ashlar is proud to confirm the use of Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt software for the design of this revolutionary spacecraft.

Rutan and the team at Scaled Composites successfully launched and completed a mission that brings them one step closer to securing the coveted Ansari X Prize designed to foster private entry into space. Today SpaceShipOne attained the required altitude of 62.5 miles into suborbital space and returned safely to Earth, putting Scaled Composites into a confident lead among 27 contenders.

Next, Rutan and the Scaled team will make a formal bid for the prize by launching the spacecraft with three astronauts aboard (or one astronaut and the equivalent weight of two more) to the suborbital altitude, bringing it safely to Earth, and then repeating the feat within two weeks using the same craft. Besides collecting the $10,000,000 X Prize, the winning team of this final leg will make history, demonstrating that civilian space travel is possible in the near future, funded not by the world's most powerful governments, but by independent entrepreneurs.

Rutan has used Vellum products for a decade. The Scaled Composite designers today confirmed that they designed the majority of SpaceShipOne and its companion aircraft, White Knight, in Cobalt. Ashlar-Vellum's president, Robert Bou, stated, "We feel proud to work with such a brilliant and innovative team of designers and to be a part of their historic endeavor." Bou adds, "I recently had the privilege of visiting the Scaled Composites team in the Mojave. They told me that when they've tried to use our competitor's software for their designs it doubled their engineering costs. Cobalt's Vellum interface so fluidly works the way they think that it allows designers to come up with multiple "what
ifs", easily refining the design for winning results."

This is very interesting and exciting news on many levels, but we'll confine our enthusiasm to the MCAD side of the equation. Rutan and Scaled Composites have been good Ashlar customers for several years, most of which using Ashlar products running on Mac platforms, but recently moving over to PCs. Virtually all of the concept and design work on the White Knight and SpaceShipOne were done using Vellum Solids 2000 and Cobalt. The only other MCAD product in the mix was SolidWorks, used for designing the complex landing gear assemblies. For manufacture, the Ashlar data was transferred to CATIA CAM for NC machining (with a huge 5-axis milling machine) of the molds used for the fiberglass and composite panels of both craft. We briefly spoke with Robert Bou, Ashlar-Vellum's president who said that Rutan and Space Composites chose Ashlar products primarily because of the speed with which they could explore and refine different ideas. Cobalt is a unique variational hybrid solid and surface modeling package with associativity and a history-tree structure that encourage design exploration and alternatives. Also, Cobalt's on-demand parametrics can make creating variations on an idea relatively painless. The success of this project is big news for Ashlar-Vellum, who for many years has been a favorite tool among industrial designers and others who need to crank out and present design
concepts in short order.

Proficiency Advances Feature-Based Interoperability

Proficiency announced the availability of Version 3.5 of its Collaboration Gateway feature-based CAD interoperability solution. Version 3.5 further extends Proficiency's product lead, with support for assembly constraints, surfacing features and methodology, and provides enhanced support for top-down associative design techniques. As with prior releases, Version 3.5 also incorporates an increasingly robust feature set for high-throughput exchange of mechanical CAD models between Dassault Systemes' CATIA v4 and CATIA v5, PTC's Pro/ENGINEER and Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, and UGS' Unigraphics NX and I-deas NX Series.

Also included in Collaboration Gateway 3.5 is the Proficiency UPR Viewer, a lightweight application that allows CAD and non-CAD users anywhere within an organization to query, view, and leverage the product design data defined within CAD models and assemblies, independent of the original authoring system. Unlike other commercial viewing applications, the Proficiency UPR Viewer exposes the engineering-rich content traditionally only available through the full CAD system. Model details like the feature tree, sketch geometry, constraints, dimensions, and metadata are conveniently and graphically displayed.

"One strategy behind optimizing the overall product development cycle is to provide the various constituents of the development process access to as much product data as possible, in a format appropriate and meaningful to them," said Scott Berkey, president and CEO of Proficiency. "The Proficiency UPR Viewer allows users to access features, dimensions, constraints, metadata, and geometry - collectively known as design intelligence - any time and any where, without the need to be proficient in a CAD system. This will revolutionize the design and decision making processes in product development, encouraging innovation among OEMs and their suppliers, while driving real costs out of a product's

Particularly well suited for automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, and heavy equipment manufacturers and their suppliers, Collaboration Gateway Version 3.5 highlights include:
  • Support for Assembly Constraints - Collaboration Gateway Version 3.5 enables assembly constraints such as mate/contact, offset/distance, align, coincidence, fix, and coordinate systems to be interoperable between various CAD systems. Assembly constraints are used to ensure mating components remain properly aligned during parametric design model changes. Maintaining assembly constraints downstream is useful to assembly integrators for advanced digital verification applications like kinematics and mechanisms.
  • Enhanced Support for Surface Methodology - Version 3.5 of the Collaboration Gateway includes new surface type support, including surface copy, surface replace, surface extend, surface trim, surface merge, as well as protrusion and cut use quilt. These are in addition to surface extrude, surface revolve, surface flat, and trim by surface features supported by previous versions of the Collaboration Gateway. Surface modeling is frequently used when designing automotive class-B components, support elements driven by nonstructural considerations, or stylized consumer products. The new support greatly reduces the typical manual rework traditionally performed on the most difficult and costly
    of design models to exchange - those using surface features.
  • Proficiency UPR Viewer - Proficiency's industry-first, CAD-independent, parametric-based viewer allows users to query assembly structure, features, history, constraints, dimensions, and metadata without requiring that the source CAD system be present. The UPR Viewer enables users unfamiliar with the authoring CAD system to see feature-based design information and model construction techniques, thus allowing them to leverage or contribute to the collaborative product development process.
    Unlike many of the companies involved with MCAD data interoperability, Proficiency is quite different. It does not concern itself with the interoperability of geometry per se, but with features. Simply put, Proficiency's Collaboration Gateway is an intranet-based application for feature-based data exchange between MCAD applications. The technology platform of the Universal Product Representation (UPR) enables CAD interoperability through the sharing of design intelligence, a superset including CAD features, dimensions, history, assemblies, meta data, constraints, sketches, and other design information. Whether migrating to a new CAD system, delivering data to OEMs or suppliers, or collaboratively designing products, the Proficiency Collaboration Gateway is intended to minimize or eliminate non-value added steps from product development processes and promotes the reuse of engineering data. For example, design teams can use existing design models, regardless of CAD format, as a starting point for new products; design libraries can be migrated to new CAD environments as required; and design teams can collaboratively develop new products using the CAD product of their choice. All this can occur while feature content is preserved across multiple CAD applications. The crux to this functionality is defining a higher level of representation for product data information used
    across multiple CAD applications. With the UPR, Proficiency has created a CAD-neutral representation of design intelligence found in the major CAD systems, and this technology is the architectural foundation of the Collaboration Gateway. Proficiency does things a little differently, and it does them well.

    LMS Introduces LMS Virtual.Lab Rev 4 Simulation Suite

    LMS International announced the availability of Rev 4 of LMS Virtual.Lab, its simulation environment for functional performance engineering. LMS Virtual.Lab offers an integrated software suite to simulate the performance of mechanical systems on attributes such as structural integrity, comfort, sound quality, system dynamics, handling and durability. LMS Virtual.Lab is based on CAA V5 (Component Application Architecture), the open middleware for PLM from Dassault Systèmes. Rev 4 introduces a new LMS Virtual.Lab Morphing module that enables users to quickly modify existing Finite Element (FE) models into new models and to perform a multitude of analyses before complete CAD or new FE models become available. LMS Virtual.Lab Rev 4 also increases the performance and capability of all its integrated simulation applications, including Motion, Noise and Vibration, Interior and Exterior Acoustics, and Durability. New post-processing and optimization enhancements allow gaining deeper insights faster, and retrieve the best-suited design options in the most efficient way. "Since its market introduction, over 150 leading manufacturing companies around the world have implemented LMS Virtual.Lab to support their NVH and acoustics engineering processes, to optimize the reliability and lifetime performance of their products, and to analyze the structural integrity and system
    dynamics of their designs long before expensive prototype testing. With LMS Virtual.Lab Rev 4, we continue to support engineers in analyzing more design alternatives more quickly and earlier in the process, and in setting new standards in productivity and process efficiency," commented Werner Pohl, LMS Corporate Vice-President and General Manager CAE Division.

    With the introduction of LMS Virtual.lab Rev 4, LMS continues to add new functionality and to extend the application reach of LMS Virtual.Lab. The LMS Virtual.Lab Structural Analysis configuration provides users of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools, like CATIA CAE, MSC.NASTRAN or ANSYS, extended FE manipulation tools and pre-/post-processing capabilities for numerous types of FE analyses. LMS Virtual.Lab transparently accesses the modeling and results data, and makes the structural solver an integral part of the Virtual.Lab simulation process. LMS Virtual.Lab Rev 4 introduces a new Morphing module that enables engineering teams to quickly morph or modify an existing FE model into new FE
    models corresponding to the target new design. This allows engineers to perform a multitude of analyses before complete CAD or new FE models become available, and to deliver better design directives much earlier in the process. LMS Virtual.Lab Morphing also enables the engineering team to rapidly implement design changes, and to study more variants in the same time window.

    LMS Virtual.Lab Acoustics enables engineering teams to minimize the radiated noise or optimize the sound quality of new designs before prototype testing. With Rev 4, LMS Virtual.Lab Acoustics offers a complete process solution that combines convenient modeling capabilities with powerful solver technology and easy interpretable visualization tools. It tightly links acoustic prediction to structural design, which supports users in easily modifying the structural FE model to assess the effect of design modifications. It even allows them to automatically optimize the acoustic performance of the design, while systematically updating the FE models. With the New Virtual.Lab Interior Acoustics solution, engineers can accurately model the vibro-acoustic behavior of a vehicle body, and realistically simulate the interior sound of the vehicle. This allows users to study the effect of increasing the structural damping of the body, stiffening the roof or the floor panels, changing the volumetric absorption from vehicle seats, or adapting the trim thickness of specific body panels. LMS Virtual.Lab Interior Acoustics includes unique cavity meshing capabilities that allow users to start from a structural full vehicle or trimmed body model and automatically generate the Finite Element mesh for the cavity. LMS Virtual.Lab Interior Acoustics supports the full simulation process
    in a single user environment - from the creation of the acoustic vehicle model, over the prediction of system-level transfer functions, up to the refinement and optimization of the acoustic performance long before running prototype tests.

    LMS Virtual.Lab Noise and Vibration Rev 4 offers unique system synthesis techniques for vibration predictions that dramatically increase the speed of simulation runs. This, in combination with path, modal and panel contribution tools, allows users to efficiently analyze the root cause of specific noise and vibration problems. The unique modification prediction capabilities support them in assessing the noise and vibration performance of a design variant in a couple of minutes, and in quickly exploring multiple options. LMS Virtual.Lab Noise and Vibration Rev 4 also offers extended tools to validate the accuracy of full-system simulation models. These tools compare the dynamic
    characteristics of virtual sub-system and component models with test models and validated virtual models. They allow users to make comparisons between any combination of model types, including FE-FE, test-test and test-FE correlations.

    LMS Virtual.Lab Motion offers a complete and integrated solution to realistically simulate the dynamics of mechanical systems, and accurately determine the resulting internal dynamic loads and stresses. With Rev 4, LMS Virtual.Lab Motion introduces four new application-specific solutions, with dedicated modeling and simulation capabilities for full-vehicle, suspension, gear system and track vehicle simulation. LMS Virtual.Lab Motion Rev 4 further extends its CAD compatibility, rigid and FE modeling capabilities and graphic post-processing tools. A powerful design sensitivity analysis solution, built into the motion solver, enables users to efficiently analyze the sensitivity of their
    design to specific parameters, and to quickly perform optimization studies. LMS Virtual.Lab Motion Rev 4 offers extended capabilities for designing and simulating systems' controls and hydraulics, providing a complete solution for mechatronic system analysis.

    To further increase the efficiency of durability simulation and optimization processes, LMS Virtual.Lab Durability Rev 4 introduces specific solution configurations for MSC.NASTRAN users. These component and system-level durability configurations provide integrated process flows that facilitate and automate all interactions with FE solvers such as ANSYS, MSC.NASTRAN and CATIA CAE - covering static strength, dynamic strength and fatigue-life prediction analysis. LMS Virtual.Lab Durability further improves the accuracy of fatigue-life and structural strength predictions by offering enhanced seam weld capabilities.

    LMS Virtual.Lab is a unique hybrid simulation approach, because it combines physical test and virtual simulation disciplines. This engineering process can move faster, and can also be more accurate, because test-based validation is built in. LMS Virtual.Lab is an integrated CAE environment for the functional performance engineering of several critical design attributes, such as noise and vibration, crash, ride and handling, durability, etc. It is an open environment with links to the diverse CAD, CAE, and test worlds. It minimizes much of the non-value added time from the typical engineering process, and lets engineers reuse models rather than rebuilding them for each application. It
    integrates the different attribute simulation disciplines, eliminating unnecessary data transfers and translations for cross-attribute product optimization. LMS Virtual.Lab captures the simulation process, and automatically "remembers" particular engineering tools and workflows, enabling engineers to analyze multiple design options for a specific set of performance attributes. As you might imagine, for a product suite of this type and range of capabilities, the main customer base is currently automotive and aerospace, but other market segments are emerging that can exploit LMS Virtual.Lab's ability to simultaneously handle physical test and virtual simulation.

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

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