Briefings: November 2004
Scroll to the bottom to pick your favorite item from this month’s list.
VectorWorks Inks Agreement with IntegrityWare
Recent success of the VectorWorks 3D Power Pack has prompted Nemetschek North America to invest in advanced-solids modeling, specifically the Solids++ kernel fromIntegrityWare. Nemetschek officials announced in September the company had signed a partnershipagreement with IntegrityWare that will provide VectorWorks users more robust solids,surface, curve, polygonal, and nonmanifold modeling. Those officials also saidthat the addition of the Solids++ kernel will broaden the appeal of VectorWorks,reinforce the company’s role as a major player in the 3D visualization market,and help the development of additional modeling tools and commands.
According to Biplab Sarkar, 3D manager for Nemetschek, “Before we released VectorWorksversion 11.0.1, the team at IntegrityWare worked with us on several critical issuesreported by our customers, and delivered timely solutions for these problems.The increased robustness found in version 11.0.1 is just one area of improvementthat this new modeling kernel provides.” The Solids++ modeling kernel has beenin development for more than seven years and is an object-oriented nonmanifoldmodeling kernel that provides a comprehensive suite of tools. For details, visitnemetschek.net.
Nemetschek North America
Kubotek and Spatial Team for Advanced Design and Modeling
Spatial Corp. has joined the Kubotek Partner Program as an Integrated Technology Partner. What this means to youis that Spatial’s 3D ACIS Modeler and 3D InterOp Translators are now integratedinto Kubotek’s KeyCreator engineering product line.
Kubotek KeyCreator builds on the heritage of CADKEY, combining geometry-baseddesign and modeling technology, with success in helping customers in the designof tooling, complex machinery, fixtures, molds, and dies in a various productdevelopment industries.
For more information on the Kubotek Partner Program, please send an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dassault and IBM Announce PLM Portfolio V5R14
Dassault Systèmes and IBM jointly announced Version 5 Release 14 (V5R14) of their PLM (product lifecyclemanagement) portfolio. Key to this version are collaboration solutions that enablecompanies to work more closely with their customers or partners and new productsto enhance communication among OEMs, suppliers, and designers.
The Dassault/IBM PLM portfolio is built around the CATIA product developmentsolution and ENOVIA and SmarTeam product data and lifecycle management, collaboration,and decision support systems. V5R14 introduces new technologies for industrialdesign and improved collaborative product development. For example, a new WorkpackageExchange product permits value chain partners to exchange detailed product definitions,while simultaneously promoting concurrent relational design and protecting corporateintellectual property.
CATIA has been enhanced with an Imagine and Shape product that extends PLM toindustrial designers. Additionally, its new Instant Collaborative Design productoffers capabilities for exchanging and reconciling engineering packages. The CATIAFunctional Molded Part product has been enhanced to handle casting parts modeling.
The new web-based ENOVIA LCA navigator provides enterprise-wide role-specificaccess to PLM data. Enabling users to navigate product, process, and resourcedefinitions, LCA offers 2D/3D Web viewing, instant collaboration, and lifecyclemanagement services. An enhanced VPM Navigator includes capabilities for fastnavigation and extended relational design support. For detailed information, visithttp://plm.3ds.com/V5R14.
Alibre V8 Catches Up to Its Competition
Alibre President and CEO Gregory Milliken visited the DE offices in Septemberto introduce version 8 of the Alibre Design 3D CAD package and demonstrate its collaborative agility. But more than talkup the new capabilities of the mechanical design and manufacturing software, hesaid the company’s lean operating philosophy was paying off, making it poisedto convert more CAD slingers, reeling in a portion of a growing market.
There’s no earth-shattering kaboom, but when a small company (about 35 full-timeemployees) is steadily profitable, making $4 million a year, and manages to renewa better-than-respectable 50 percent of users each year, there doesn’t need tobe.
“We have a strong board of directors,” Milliken says, “and I think they’re likingwhat they see… Our business model is working.”
Aside from operating leanly, Alibre Design is winning in its segment mainly becauseof two things: it does what it purports to with a minimal learning curve and it’sinexpensive.
First, to the former: Because customer feedback has been so positive, Millikensays the company decided to double the time period of its Guaranteed Success programto 60 days. And, it offers liberal free-trial periods as well. There are threeprograms: Alibre Design costs $795; Alibre Design Professional, which adds sheetmetal design, photorealistic rendering, a large part library, and ALGOR analysis,among other things, costs $1,295; and Alibre Design Expert costs $1,795. The annualmaintenance fee is $295.
Take Alibre Pro, for example. Version 8 has added associative Boolean capabilities,freeform 3D sketching of curves, and improvements to its GUI, sweep and loft operations,and 2D drawing. There is no complex surfacing ability, and likely won’t be inthe future because, as Milliken says, “no one’s asked for it,” and there’s noneed to complicate an easy-to-use program. He points out that with the Booleancapability and the fact that it’s easy to import surface models and convert themto solids, version 8 has achieved engineering parity with the higher-end CAD programsAlibre has identified as its competition.
Small shops see huge savings and success with the $1,295 Alibre Design Professionalpackage. In fact, 95 percent of Alibre customers have five or fewer seats of theprogram, and that’s where the next foray comes into play. They’ve added a 10-licensediscount that saves half the retail cost of that many seats and, when combinedwith the 60-day guarantee, there’s good incentive for larger shops to get withthe program. Whether that means chipping away at competitor’s customers remainsto be seen, but Milliken is optimistic and likes what he sees in a recent Daratechstudy showing an 11 percent annual growth rate in the mid-range 3D mechanicalCAD market through 2008.
As far as version 8 is concerned, in addition to the new Boolean capabilitiesAlibre adds the ability to use multiple parts and assemblies as tools. It alsolets users sketch freeform 3D curves for use in a variety of modeling operations,including creating and routing piping or cables, or advanced sweeping and lofting.Other enhancements include support for multiple sweep paths or loft guide curvesso users can create more complex sculpted shapes; the importation of freeformsurfaces from other applications such as Rhino; images in drawing templates, flexiblehandling of line styles and color definitions, and improved dimensions; and theability to customize Alibre to automate repetitive tasks and improve integrationwith add-on applications. There are also user interface and productivity enhancements.
Milliken demonstrated all these new capabilities and improvements while workingon a model in real time with a colleague in Texas while connected to our Internetportal, demonstrating the smooth and almost intuitive nature of Alibre’s collaborativeability. He showed how easy it is to hand off design leader status from one collaboratorto the next, with each design change and step being noted in a running recordin a separate text box. And, as users work on designs, they can keep track ofthe Alibre consultant, who is ready to answer questions at any time—a nice optionfor a design package aimed at making things easy for the customer.
Aras PLM Measures Development performance
The latest update to the product lifecycle management (PLM) solution from Aras Corp. gives the management at companies using Aras PLM V6 a built-in barometer totrack product development performance. Rather than a functionality change, thisnew tool is designed so customers can keep track of their own development processand measure performance with real metrics.
To meet customer requests, Paul Gilmartin, vice president of marketing, and MarcLind, vice president of corporate marketing, explain that with version 6 customerscan measure product development efficiency and view best practices to emulateto improve their performance.
Aras has added product innovation, engineering efficiency, design-to-goals, engineeringoptimization, and time-to-manufacture performance indicators. When an engineeringchange takes place on a certain project, the update tracks it to determine whetherthe change was initiated at a customer request, to improve a design, or to fixa problem. The solution assigns values to such things as reusing a design fromone project in another, cycle times in the design process, the number of new partsintroduced in a design, cost vs. goal, etc. Numbers are added up and a companyexecutive gets real data to measure efficiency in real time.
All of this is fed by built-in best practices defined by the Institute for ConfigurationManagement (CMII). That means that if there’s a problem with the customer’s developmentprocess, a user can drill down to find out where the roadblock exists, and findestablished fixes to smooth the process.
“Product development needs to be managed in the context of the individual business,”says Lind, version 6 could move it from engineering to management.
Gibbs and Fanuc Collaborate for Controller Capabilities
A recent collaboration between Gibbs and Associates and FANUC, Ltd. is resulting in more efficient computer numerically controlled (CNC) machiningprograms for GibbsCAM as it is now able to leverage FANUC controller capabilities.According to Bill Gibbs, founder and president of Gibbs, generic HSM solutionslike step-over loopbacks and radiused corners lets generic CNC programs to runfaster on generic machine tools and “because of our working relationship withFANUC, we were able to…improve machine tool performance by accessing capabilitiesin their controller.”
GE Fanuc Automation Director of CNC Technology and Growth Opportunities TomoakiIshibe credits an earlier implementation of Gibbs SFP with FANUC controllers asinstructional. “It was apparent that we could deliver more performance to ourcustomers by having the Gibbs software utilize them.”
Gibbs and Associates
ViewCafe adds Red Hat Support
Spicer Corporation, a provider of universal viewing solutions for ECM, PLM, and reprographics applications,has developed a new ViewCafe Linux Server. The Red Hat Linux server provides documenthandling, load balancing, and format loading. Scalable server architecture givesViewCafe the ability to handle a limitless number of clients, while its customizableAPI gives administrators complete control over security and functionality.
Spicer says that while the client applet was always available on Windows, Mac,Unix, and Linux, the ViewCafe Server was available only as a Windows component.According to Product Manager Tony Prilesnik, “Eliminating this constraint expandsthe visualization options for many companies; administrators can take full advantage…ofLinux to provide stable document view and markup solutions…across the enterpriseand across businesses.”
To try the ViewCafe online demonstration and to learn more, visit spicer.com.