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New CAD/CAE products go for lower cost, easier use.

The latest developments for CAD/CAM and CAE flow analysis illustrate two trends, one toward lower-cost packages with increased capabilities, and the other toward sophisticated systems that are simpler to use. These benefits were evident in new products suitable for plastics at the recent AutoFact '96 Rapid Design and Manufacturing Exhibition in Detroit.


A new "paperless" first-article inspection service from Product Development Technologies Inc., Wauconda, Ill., compares a molded part directly to its CAD database instead of to a paper blueprint. This Computer Aided Verification (CAV) service uses 3D laser scanning to measure part geometry - including all core and cavity side details, surface contours, and relevant parameters - to [+ or -]0.001-in. accuracy. The verification system compares a 3D multi-million-point "scan cloud" with the CAD database. CAV reportedly takes less than five days, versus up to three weeks for traditional CMM inspection. Complete inspection results are presented with a short, color-graphic report highlighting any errors found in either the part or the CAD data.


New CAD software for small and medium-sized companies from Advanced Solid Technologies, Inc., Montreal, is said to incorporate high-performance features into a low-cost PC-based package. TOPsolid 5.13 is modular software that ranges from 2D and 3D parametric type to 3D integrated surfaces and solids with free parametrics, as well as standard libraries for technical data management. Price ranges from 82500 for the basic 2D/3D parametric wire-frame design and drafting module to $8250 for fully featured parametric surfaces and solids.

A new version of CADkey mechanical CAD software for DOS and Windows has been released by Baystate Technologies, Marlborough, Mass. Highlights of CADkey 97 include solid modeling and improved rendering. The new version has extended 3D design capabilities that combine the flexibility of wire frame with ACIS solid modeling. Users can now construct solid primitives such as blocks, cones, and spheres; perform Boolean operations such as subtract, intersect, and union; extrude, sweep, or revolve geometry into a solid; and apply constant and variable fillets, chamfers, and blends to solid models. The 3D modeling is associative to 2D drawing, and models can be display-shaded with hidden-line removal in the drawing layout mode. You can use wire-frame, solid, or surface modeling at any time during the design process, and editing capabilities include solid-to-solid, solid-to-wire-frame, surface-to-surface, and surface-to-solid trimming operations. Price is $1195.


The second major release of Windows-based Solid Edge CAD software from Intergraph Software Solutions, Huntsville, Ala., includes new part and assembly design tools and performance enhancements. New "top-down" design aids include in-place modeling of assembly components. Designers can now use Solid Edge to create new part models within the assembly, ensuring accurate fit and function by directly associating part dimensions to the faces and edges of other assembly components.

The latest release is said to be easy to use and learn, and new modeling techniques are addressed in new interactive, self-paced learning aids. Performance is reportedly twice as fast as before for routine tasks such as opening and saving files, activating files from the assembly environment, and editing features. New feature-based solid-modeling capabilities are said to minimize modeling time and improve modeling stability.

Rounding has also been significantly improved with the implementation of the ACIS 2.0 modeling kernel, which tackles complex multiple-edge and interacting rounds. Price is $5995.

Enhancements in Version 2 of SolidWorks 96 solid-modeling software for PCs from SolidWorks Corp., Concord, Mass., are said to allow designers to work efficiently on assemblies with hundreds of parts. Users can add and edit part features while working within an assembly view. They can share geometry between components. References are dynamically linked, so design changes automatically propagate through an entire assembly to all of its related components. New drafting enhancements include automatic creation of an embedded Excel spreadsheet containing an assembly bill of materials. The spreadsheet is dynamically linked so that when an assembly is changed, the bill-of-materials is updated too.

Advanced assembly viewing and simplification tools allow a viewer to quickly open up large assemblies. Components and subassemblies can be shown or hidden, and components can be dragged to see the corresponding motion of an assembly. SolidWorks costs $3995.


Under an agreement with SolidWorks, Surfware of Westlake Village, Calif., will incorporate SolidWorks solid modeling into its new Windows-based SurfCAM Solids product for design and manufacturing. Once this is accomplished during the next year, Surf-CAM Solids is expected to be the first PC software package that offers integrated drafting, solid modeling, part assemblies, lathe and two- through five-axis machining with a single user interface.

A new version of SolidView 3D communications software from Solid Concepts Inc., Valencia, Calif., includes a "publishing" capability for sending 3D designs over the internet and company intranets. SolidView is not a CAD system but a Windows-based program based on the .STL format that allows users to communicate 3D design information from all popular CAD systems. Version 2.0 allows users to take an existing CAD design, add measurements and notes, and then "publish" the file to anyone with a Windows-based PC even if the other party does not have a copy of SolidView. In addition to reading .STL files, SolidView can also read DXF and OBJ files, and an IGES input is available as an option. The basic system costs $495.


Moldflow Pty. Ltd., Lexington, Mass., has integrated its MF/Flowcheck preliminary flow-analysis tool into Autodesk's Mechanical Desktop 2D/3D design package, thus providing seamless flow analysis within the CAD environment. MF/Flowcheck provides visual information on fill, flow pattern, and location of possible weld lines and air traps, alerting tool designers to potential problems. For example, the "Will-it-Fill" analysis is used to quickly determine whether a part will fill under normal injection pressures. It assigns each node a color-coded confidence factor blue means it will fill; green, it may fill; and red, it will not fill. MF/Flowcheck is integrated into four other suppliers' CAD systems.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:computer-aided design/computer-aided engineering
Author:Gaspari, John De
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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