Originally Published March 2000
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CAD/CAM/CAE Exhibitors Flock to PDE Show to Answer Every Need
Pacific Design Engineering, colocated with MD&M West in Anaheim, CA, played host to a wide variety of CAD/CAM/CAE vendors, all of whom were demonstrating their software and seeking to "out-wow" the competition. The companies exhibiting at the January 1820 show ranged from some of the biggest names in the business to fledgling start-ups, all offering the latest solutions to the age-old dilemma of how to make it quicker, better, and cheaper.
Visitors to Pacific Design Engineering were able to source an array of software ranging from products written for niche applications to general-purpose CAD/CAM solutions. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates
Products ranged from general-purpose, do-it-all suites that take users from conceptualization to molding or machining the final parts, to specialized niche applications written to fill a specific need. Finite-element analysis (FEA) is a growing area, and it was available both integrated into some of the bigger packages and as a stand-alone application.
Leading off with a one-two punch was Unigraphics Solutions (Maryland Heights, MO), which featured both the Unigraphics suite and Solid Edge. Unigraphics is a high-end modular package that offers 13 CAD modules, 15 CAM modules, and 4 CAE modules, in addition to literally dozens of task-specific add-ons for mix-and-match flexibility. A midrange package developed specifically for mechanical assembly design and drafting, Solid Edge also offers add-ons targeted specifically at sheet-metal and plastic-part design engineers, with process-specific commands to address the unique demands of each.
Structural Dynamics Research Corp. (SDRC; Milford, OH) offered a full range of high-end, Internet-enabled product development and data management solutions. The company's products include the I-deas Artisan and Master CAD/CAM/CAE series, Imageware modelers, and Metaphase product data management tools. Jan Brown, marketing communications manager, noted that the I-deas series' attributes include its scalability, integrated FEA, and data management capabilities. Brown went on to say that the company anticipates a May release for its upcoming version.
SolidWorks Corp. (Concord, MA) showed SolidWorks99, which offers powerful solid modeling capabilities and fully associative drawingswhen the drawing is updated, the changes also appear in the 3-D model. The Windows-native application also includes a free viewer, enabling anyone with Internet access to receive and view models. SolidWorks representatives said that a new version is expected this month.
Among the CAD programs at the show, Vellum Solids, 3D, and Draft from Ashlar Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) were the "only professional-level CAD packages available for the Mac," according to national sales manager Gil Daerr. They "draw the way that you think," offering intuitive and easy-to-use tools. Vellum Draft is a 2-D CAD package, while 3D uses wire-frame, surface, and parametric techniques, and Solids is a hybrid modeler that combines wire-frame, surface, and solids modeling. Both Solids and 3D include multiple, adjustable light sources for rendering. The three, which were released in December, are also available for Windows.
Dual-hybrid modeler launched
Hot off the CD-ROM burner is Helix2000 from Microcadam Inc. (Burbank, CA). The product had its official launch at a press conference during PDE. Helix offers the company's new dual-hybrid modeling system, which integrates solids with surfaces and parametrics with topological modeling. The new version offers numerous improvements and includes an interactive-simulation tutorial to help get new users up to speed.
VX Vision from Varimetrix Corp. (Palm Bay, FL) introduces the company's second-generation unified parametric geometry kernel, which utilizes a combination of solid, surface, and wire-frame modeling techniques and a methodology the company calls proximity compliance tolerancing, which is said to be an improvement over adaptive tolerancing. VX Vision also offers a CAM module to ease tool programming for NC machining while maintaining the association and synchronization with the original 3-D model.
Structural Dynamics Research Corp. displayed its Internet-enabled I-deas products at Pacific Design Engineering. The company announced a May release for the updated version of its software. Photo courtesy of Oscar & Associates
A complete integrated CAD/CAM solution is available in Mastercam, from CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT). The company's modular approach includes applications from drafting and design through solid modeling and on to milling, lathing, and wire EDM.
EdgeCAM, from Pathtrace Systems Inc. (Ontario, CA) is a comprehensive suite of CAM tools to take a CAD design and turn it into a real part, from desktop to machine shop. Patrick Matthews, CEO of CAMforce Inc. (Upland, CA), an EdgeCAM distributor, said that one of the program's main strengths is in the number of CNC tools it supports. EdgeCAM is available as a stand-alone application, or as a plug-in for Autodesk's Mechanical Desktop.
Three FEA tools were demonstrated by Structural Research & Analysis Corp. (Los Angeles). "FEA is all we do, so we're very honed," said account manager Mike Buckley. Targeted at different segments of the market, the Cosmos series includes Works, DesignStar, and Edge, each of which is offered with three levels of functionality. All feature OpenGL support, and the Works packages offer complete integration with SolidWorks.
AutoFEA Software Company, LLC (Arcadia, CA) demonstrated Solid Analysis FEA Solution, a scalable modeling and FEA package available in multiple levels. Capabilities range from 2500 nodes with the affordable entry-level package to unlimited nodes with the top-of-the-line Architectural and Mechanical versions.
Software analyzes stress in implantable hinge
A complete set of FEA tools is offered in NE/Nastran from Noran Engineering Inc. (Los Alamitos, CA). The software has been used to analyze stresses in such diverse components as a titanium hinge for a spinal implant and the wing of an F-5E fighter jet, according to the company, and is available bundled with FEMAP.
DatapointLabs (Seattle, WA) was seeking CAE partners at the show for the company's TestPak Alliance Program, which aims to address the issue of materials representation in CAE simulations. The company offers a wide range of premade material datasets in their TestPaks, and also tests customer samples.
Engineers needing interactive collaboration over the Internet congregated at the CoCreate Software Inc. (Ft. Collins, CO) booth and had a look at the company's OneSpace application. The firm, a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary, also demonstrated WorkManager, a product development management application.
Centric Software Inc. (San Jose) said that their Pivotal Solutions suite comprises an "Internet-centric" collaborative virtual product development software solution.
Moldflow Corp. (Lexington, MA) showed a series of plastic-molding simulation applications. Three packages addressing a wide range of simulation needs, including hot-runner and cooling issues, were featured at the booth.
Metal-molding simulation was covered by Scientific Forming Technologies Corp.'s (Columbus, OH) Deform Systems, which provides metal-forming and heat-treating simulation in addition to helping identify a range of other potential metal-part manufacturing problems.
Additionally exhibiting at the show were numerous other vendors with products ranging from virtual reality conceptualization systems to applications enabling the platform-independent viewing of a wide range of CAD files.Stephen C. Levy