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Improved design & engineering software debuts at design show.

With computer technologies evolving at full tilt, it comes as no surprise that the arsenal of engineering software has undergone many changes of late. The recent National Design Engineering Show in Chicago highlighted some developments that boost the abilities of CAD/CAM/CAE packages while rendering them accessible to a wider audience.

Among these changes are advancements that make for easier, more efficient use of automated design tools. And heightened analytical abilities also turned up in some products. Meanwhile, new pricing strategies and platforms adopted by several vendors may lower entry requirements. All these trends were evident especially in turnkey packages that integrate design, analysis and manufacturing functions.


One such introduction was especially extensive in addressing this dual issue of function and accessibility. Structural Dynamics Research Corp. (SDRC) of Milford, Ohio, rolled out what it describes as the most sweeping product upgrade in its 25year history.

Called I-DEAS Master Series, this revamped CAD/CAM/CAE software primarily tackles ease-of-use issues by shortening the command structure as much as 70%. In fact, the company reports that users can execute nearly all system commands with a single mouse action. This increased simplicity springs from improvements to the software's user interface, known as the "Dynamic Navigator." Newly adapted to 3-D solid models, this interface simplifies command sequences by anticipating a user's actions and automatically summoning short lists of appropriate commands. Thus the drawing of one line, for instance, would summon commands needed to create other lines by automatically indicating perpendicular angles, midpoints of line segments, and endpoints of parallel line segments. Also, a new "sketch-in-place" ability lets users alter a solid model by simply drawing the modifications--such as extensions or cutouts-on its surface.

For a product-development setting involving multiple users, the I-DEAS Master Series also permits what the company claims is a unique degree of associativity: the system accommodates multiple users engaged in different aspects of the design-to-manufacturing process, even to the point where one user can begin the analysis functions while refinements continue at the design level. Authorized alterations made anywhere on the design-to-manufacturing continuum not only propagate throughout the system but do so concurrently for multiple users at different stages in the process, the company says.

Also appearing for the first time were several SDRC modules that specifically simulate plastics processes. The Weld Locator is an entry-level simulation system that does just what its name suggests--identifies weld lines on an injection molded part. It does so by evaluating a simplified set of mold-filling parameters, including temperature, shear, flow vectors, and fill time.

The new Thermoset Molding module, through a simulation of reaction kinetics, displays extent of cure both overall and at the flow front for thermosets and rubber compounds.

Two additional plastics-related capabilities have also been added to the existing I-DEAS Mold Filling software. "P-Scan" optimizes processing conditions according to the material as well as to the gate size and location specified by the processor. And the "Results Advisor" prioritizes mold-filling analysis data, in order of importance to a particular user, to help speed interpretation. (CIRCLE 28)


Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., has "unbundled" its Engineering Modeling System (EMS), breaking the package into separate software modules targeted at specific applications. Because users can now buy only the modules they need, this repackaging lowers the entry price, explains Kim Corbridge, mechanical products marketing manager. Now users can buy the basic system for design and downstream applications, known as EMS Foundation, for $9900. Previously, under a more inclusive packaging strategy, the entry price would have approached $20,000. Optional modules, such as EMS Freeform and EMS Advanced Features, can boost the solid-modeling capabilities of EMS Foundation if required. And systems consisting of some or all the modules can be purchased as packages for prices not exceeding the complete EMS.

Intergraph has also enhanced its finite-element pre- and post-processor, dubbed I/FEM, to support nonlinear analysis. The pre-processor now has a simplified user interface to reduce the keying in of data and speed model generation. At the same time, I/FEM's post-processor has been upgraded to interpret the results from nonlinear problems.

Nonlinear problems confronting plastics processors include the viscoelastic behavior of polymers as well as design analysis of parts such as snap-fits or gaskets. Gil White, marketing manager of the company's MCAE products, adds that I/FEM's nonlinear capacity is especially suited to problems that arise during extrusion or when a material is rolled--as in calendering.

Due to the unbundling of EMS, I/FEM can now be purchased for about $13,000 over the cost of EMS Foundation. And for reasons relating to both the pricing and relative simplicity, White expects the product to bring non-linear analysis to plastics users who formerly could not employ this type of software tool. (CIRCLE 29)


Parametric Technology Corp. of Waltham, Mass., showed some Pro-Engineer upgrades that could benefit mold makers. According to Parametric's application engineer Dave Reband, the company's Pro/Moldesign package recently improved its direct link to C-Flow/EZ from AC Technology (Ithaca, N.Y.) with a new pull-down menu. Now this simplified mold-filling analysis tool and ProEngineer have a direct link, permitting quick mold-filling simulations without leaving the CAD/CAM package, Reband notes. And Moldesign now includes an updated "library" of mold-base assemblies and other components from DME Corp.

Also ready for market is Pro/Draw, a tool to transfer and maintain drawing databases. It allows ProEngineer to support drawings from existing 2-D databases, preserving any prior investment in earlier drafting systems. Pro/Draw works with a variety of industry-standard transfer tools, such as IGES, SET and DXF.

According to manufacturing applications manager James Baum, the company now has a Pro/Engineer version running under Windows NT ready to roll as soon as Microsoft introduces the new operating system. In its booth, Parametric Technology showed Pro/Engineer NT working on both Intel 486- and Alpha AXP-based computers. (CIRCLE 30)

Among other CAD/CAM news at the design show:

* CADkey Inc. of Windsor, Conn., announced a new release: CADkey 6 features automatic hidden-line removal and shading capabilities. The new version also can incorporate the company's Analysis program, an elastic- and thermal-analysis tool based on the boundary-element method for simplified model development. CADkey 6 also now includes IGES, DWG/DXF translators. The new release runs on 286/486 DOS, OS/2 Version 2, and UNIX platforms. (CIRCLE 31)

* Matra Datavision, Tewksbury, Mass., has entered a joint development and marketing agreement with rapid-prototyping vendor Stratasys Corp., Minneapolis. Matra's Euclid-IS CAE/CAD/ CAM software and Stratasys, 3D Modeler will now have a direct link, minimizing the work of producing plastic prototypes from CAD files. (CIRCLE 32)

* Autodesk of Sausalito, Calif, now offers its Design Expert and Manufacturing Expert packages for the Sun Microsystems SparcStation. Versions for DOS and Unix were scheduled to follow by the end of last month. Design-Expert is bundled with Auto CAD Release 12 and IGES translator, while the Manufacturing Expert package includes AutoCAD 12 and Auto Mill for generating NC tool paths. Both packages feature AutoSurf, which enables users to design 3-D parts using NURBS-based technology. (CIRCLE 33)

* Cadam Inc., an IBM subsidiary in Burbank, Calif, says its Micro Cadam software will now run on workstations from Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. Before, Cadam only supported IBM computers. (CIRCLE 34)
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Title Annotation:Technology News: CAD/CAM/CAE; National Design Engineering Show
Author:Ogando, Joseph
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:May 1, 1993
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