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Searching for CAD parts by shape: CADSEEK from iSEEK uses shape-based search technology; flying over CAD databases.

Ask design engineers what they think about searching for CAD parts data when designing a new product. Or ask manufacturing people what they think of parts redundancies in their CAD files. Your questions are as likely to be met with groans as with definitive answers. Then ask about geometric search technology and you'll likely find a puzzled look and little or no awareness that 3-D search technology exists at all--until now.

iSEEK Corp., Ames, Iowa, has introduced a shape-based search technology. Called CADSEEK, the company said it integrates with an organization's CAD software to perform geometric-based parts and assembly searches. A CADSEEK user can even navigate through an enterprise-wide CAD database by zooming in and "flying over" the entirety of files represented as a virtual reality-like universe of spheres on one computer screen, the company said.

The company has recently signed a contract with Deere & Co. for CADSEEK, and is targeting off-highway manufacturers and suppliers along with OEMs and suppliers in other markets.

iSEEK said CADSEEK is designed to significantly streamline the design process for parts or assemblies. Design productivity enhancement is a benefit, as is elimination of design redundancies.

"We developed a coding algorithm which captures the totality of shapes, including surfacing information and associated detail. As a result, CADSEEK's shape coding is extremely accurate, producing unparalleled search precision for parts and assemblies," said iSEEK cofounder and CADSEEK technology inventor Dr. Abir Qamhiyah.

CADSEEK uses 3-D part geometry as the basis for the search, rather than text-based descriptions or volume (voxel) technology. "Another difference is the linear (or unlimited) scalability of CADSEEK and that it works regardless of the orientation of the part being searched," Qamhiyah said.

CADSEEK consists of two software modules: a search engine for selecting a target part and search results in picture form; and a visual navigator, which is the total CAD database visualization module.

iSEEK said there are four ways to use CADSEEK. The first is to simply load an existing image of the target part or one that's similar. Second is to enter all or a portion of a part name or number. Third is to use a CAD program to sketch a target part. Fourth is to use the Visual Navigator to view (fly over) the database, picking a CAD file from spherical shapes that represent families or clusters of like parts.

"Because CADSEEK eliminates part redundancies and therefore cost redundancies," said iSEEK Co-Founder and Senior Vice President and COO Dr. Don Flugrad, "it's a natural for organizations committed to lean enterprise. Eliminating wasteful practices and improving productivity of design engineers is right in keeping with continuous process improvement."

CADSEEK can also be used to identify and consolidate existing redundant parts, and it can help eliminate potentially new redundant parts as new products are designed, Flugrad said.

As a supply chain management tool, it can serve as a matchmaker between OEMs and contract manufacturers or vendors supplying parts to OEMs. Companies interested in standardizing parts or ballparking parts pricing have quicker, more efficient access to like cases or scenarios.

Similarly, engineers can gain quicker insights to design challenges by examining similar parts more quickly--perhaps even modifying existing CAD files rather than creating new designs from scratch, the company said.
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Title Annotation:DESIGN TOOLS
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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