CAE Tools

New Tools Liberate CAD Data

The expansion of Web-based supply chain infrastructures carries with it a message for software vendors: Open your solutions to cross communication and data interaction or stagnate.

An effective enterprise-wide product engineering and delivery process demand the formation of intelligent communication and collaboration pathways between corporate organizations and suppliers throughout the design, manufacturing, distribution, and service cycles. The current response of software vendors that hide behind a veil of proprietary CAD data formats and voice claims that only their software must be used degenerates into an analogy of “You can only read my email if you use my e-mail program”— hardly what users want to hear.

CAD is very helping for plastic molding company to design the part or mold drawing, this can save lots of time.

In 2001, however, two new software vendors are poised to break through the established myth by proving parametric, feature-, and history- based solids can be intelligently exchanged and a proprietary CAD database can be automatically modified based on decisions made in an external multi-CAD collaboration session. Proficiency Inc. targets the engineering supply chain with its Collaboration Gateway— both an Internet-based communication infrastructure and an application— enabling intelligent design collaboration and information exchange. The pre-alpha implementation currently takes the position that feature-based solids can, indeed, be exchanged between native, proprietary CAD databases by meticulous mappings between the varied model databases.

Using the CAD vendors’ Application Programming Interfaces, Proficiency invokes a CAD product in a slave mode— across a network or across the Web— to extract history- based geometry into its central Universal Product Representation. That data can then drive the generation of a fully intelligent parametric, feature-based solid model in another modeling CAD database, enabling holes to transfer as holes while extrudes and fillet rounds retain their parametric, feature structure.

Proficiency rightly positions its Gateway product in the broader context of design collaboration to deliver upfront solutions for OEM/ supplier users rather than relegate its use as a back- room support tool. The pilot software’s mapping implementation today supports extraction and regeneration between PTC’s Pro/ ENGINEER, Unigraphics Solutions’ Unigraphics, Das-sault Systemes’ CATIA V4, and SDRC’s I-DEAS products. Although fall- back solutions are necessary when a direct mapping cannot be defined between certain high- end features unique to a particular CAD product, the preponderance of most commonly used features and parameter-driven dimensions transfer with eye-opening ease.

3GCorporation looks to introduce this year its new 3G.web. decisions software, which allows engineers, designers, suppliers, and partners to work collaboratively and compare and select product alternatives. The company’s Functional Decision Support System moves beyond the current multi-CAD visualization environments, which focus on form and fit, to allow access to functional product behavior data for a range of product alternatives.

Users select key driving parameters from their parametric solid CAD models, set allowable ranges for the imported parameters (the software runs automatic “sampling” of parameter changes and drives CAD modeler regeneration), and execute CAE analyses with results stored together with geometry in a central repository. Within the 3Genvironment, a slide bar is automatically defined for each varying parameter to allow users to step through the different model/ analysis results to see how varying that parameter affects change.

The Web-native architecture with extensive use of XML and 3Gcompressing technology is a breakthrough in affecting native CAD parametric models based on decisions made during a collaborative session on a neutral multi-CAD data structure. Because associative links are established between the selected parameters extracted into the 3Gframework and the CAD modeler itself, when a collaborative decision is made on the best product solution, those parameters are transmitted back to the CAD modeler for automatic regeneration. Users no longer have to remember to manually update their proprietary CAD models with the agreed upon changes.

LA Business Journal

Two-year-old Los Angeles software company 3Ga Corp. has designed a breakthrough product – called 3G.web.decisions 2001 – that it says will help dramatically lower the price of a wide variety of industrial products.
With technical assistance from Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., and auto parts manufacturer Delphi Diesel Systems, 3Ga has created the product to streamline the engineering design process, thereby accelerating the time it takes to get a product to market.
     “We are excited to be in a position to set the pace for collaborative engineering,” said Yuri Kizimovich, president and co-founder of 3Ga. “Customers using 3G.web.decisions will shrink design cycles and enhance communication, which represents a significant paradigm shift in enterprise computing as we know it.”
     Kizimovich expects sales of 3G.web.decisions to reach $2.5 million by the end of the year, with sales ramping up to $7 million in 2002.
     The company has financed the development of the software through two financing rounds that raised $2 million from a number of investors, including Zone Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm.
     “We are expecting to close our third round of funding by summer,” said Sandra McIntosh, 3Ga’s director of marketing. “We plan to use our next round of funding to expand the company from 25 employees.”
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     By putting plans online – and allowing users to overlay 3G.web.decisions over existing design software programs – teams across the country and around the world can work on a design project simultaneously.
     3Ga’s technology, based on languages Java, XML, and the Microsoft.NET platform, “will allow designers to change their plans or communicate with other designers online instead of over the phone or by overnight mail,” said Tomi K. Mossessian, 3Ga’s executive vice president of engineering. “Approximately 70 percent of a product’s cost happens in the design stage. This software will save about 50 percent of that cost by putting it all online.”
Taking the product to market
With the initial test phase of 3G.web.decisions concluded, 3Ga recently began to market its product specifically to the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and heavy machinery industries. No deals apart from those struck with Intel and Delphi are yet in place.
The cost of 3G.web.decisions is based on installation, said Mossessian. 3Ga charges each client a $10,000 annual subscription for the base software, along with a $5,000 fee per user, per year.
     “We are targeting small to medium companies within these industries,” he said. “We have also entered into a marketing agreement with Intel and have been testing our product with Delphi Diesel Systems.”
     Both 3Ga and Intel officials declined to comment on whether the Santa Clara-based chipmaker would eventually seek to take an equity position in the L.A. company. But Intel clearly recognizes the potential of 3Ga.
     “Being able to collaborate on a design in real time is something that is important to us and our customers,” said Bob Knighten, Intel’s peer-to-peer evangelist. “It also allows for several corporations to work together while protecting property rights,” by locking portions of a file not necessary to a collaborator’s engineers.
     John Milroy, the principal engineer with Troy, Mich.-based Delphi, said the company’s initial testing has found the software to be more than a collaborative tool.
     “My team can easily compare and collaboratively evaluate more design alternatives in a dynamic Web environment,” said Milroy. “Now, we have the ability to dramatically improve workflow, have an information base for product synthesis and accelerate our time to market.”

Testing functional behavior
From a common server, any remote member of the product design team can use three-dimensional designs to simulate the impact of engineering changes on the functional behavior of a design.
     According to Kizimovich, the software is easy to use.
“     Users simply move a slider bar to scroll through hundreds of design alternatives in real time,” he said. “Team members then collectively determine which configuration is the most cost-effective, highest quality and easiest to produce.
     Users optimize models by applying constraints to keep several dimensions unchanged or stress levels below a specified value, said Kizimovich. Other features permit engineers to work with suppliers and mold makers; manufacturing considerations also can be studied.