Software opens up collaboration
New software will allow different CAD users to work together more quickly and effectively
Interoperable CAD has taken another step forward with the introduction of three software packages two of them free. All help engineers to work together with other engineers engaged on different aspects of the same problem.
OneSpace, from CoCreate, allows collaborative engineering between designers using normally incompatible systems, while free software from SolidWorks assists the e-mailing of drawings from a variety of sources. At the same time, Matra Datavision has released a major core CAD code for free.
This last may have the largest consequence of all, opening up a new concept in CAD by giving everyone access to basic systems which can then be enhanced to provide solutions, all of which should be able to communicate with each other.
Version 4 of CoCreates OneSpace allows 3D native data collaboration between users working with Solid Designer, Catia, Pro/Engineer, Unigraphics and SDRC I-DEAS Master Series. PTC is known to have adopted encryption of data files in the latest version of Pro/Engineer, but it is evidently a type of encryption that can be made available to other partners if the business agreement is right. At time of writing, OneSpace is referred to as a suitable collaborative tool on the PTC web site.
Any 3D design can be called up and modified as a neutral OneSpace model, which can then be saved out into any the other user sessions. There are two limitations: it is not possible to load and translate history; and RRP for a server licence is £41,000. (A three client and server 50 hour online trial starter pack is available for £8,500).
SolidWorks, on the other hand, is making a facility called eDrawings freely available on its website ( http://solidworks.com/edrawings ). Drawings prepared using SolidWorks, AutoCAD or any system outputting a .DXF or .DWG file can then be compressed and sent as an .EXE file with a built-in viewer.
The user can pan and zoom and hyperlink features to each other. If a hyperlink is available, a hand symbol appears and a green box is drawn round the appropriate view. Hyperlinks can be between multiple drawing sheets. A virtual folding function allows a user to look at several drawings at the same time and arrange views in any way desired. And, if the drawing is based on a SolidWorks model, it is possible to animate shaded images, slowly spinning and rotating from one 3D view to another.
But most remarkable of all, Matra Division has made the object oriented CAS.CADE tools developed to produce its CAD software available to all free of charge (at http://www.opencascade.org ).
The idea is to create a large ocean of Cascade-based applications in which the company feels particularly suited to swim. It is much the same thinking as that behind the freely available Linux operating system, which has led to businesses such as Red Hat based entirely on selling and servicing Linux-based solutions.
Matra Datavision aims to become the Red Hat of open source engineering and scientific modelling 3D components. The first set of free tools to be made available will be based on Linux, with other implementations to follow.
Universities are particularly encouraged to take advantage of all the volume primitives, modelling algorithms, and data exchange tools.
OneSpace allows users to view, manipulate and transfer 3D models generated using major CAD software packages
eDrawings is a free facility which allows the sending of intelligent 2D drawings as compressed files with certain 3D capabilities, where these are present in the original model
Open Cascade is an initiative by Matra Datavision to make free object oriented CAD development tools available to anyone who wishes to develop their own applications
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