Issue: Volume: 24 Issue: 5 (May 2001)

Products - 5/01

Design engineering

Model repair
Win/Unix CADfix for Ansys (Versions 5.6.2 and 5.7) intelligently repairs CAD model geometry for better importation to an engineering simulation process. It works with native CAD or geometry file formats and automatically or interactively makes modifications to correct tolerance discrepancies. CADfix reads native Catia files directly, and includes import and export of IGES, STEP, Parasolid, and ACIS files. The price is unavailable. (Ansys;

Updated ID tools
Win/Unix Studio Tools 9.6 has improvements targeted at 3D computer-aided industrial design. The software supports large polygonal models, has new translators for Spatial ACIS and EAI DirectModel, and performs WYSIWYG plotting and printing. A reverse engineering tool for point cloud processing has also been added. The software has new modeling tools; the ability to import multiple shaders, textures, or lights; and the ability to preview how brushes will paint. The price is unavailable. (Alias|Wavefront;

Design analysis
Win/Unix CFdesign 5.0 is software for fluid flow and heat transfer analysis for PTC's Pro/Engineer software. Changes made to the CAD model are automatically reflected in the analysis model. New features include the ability to apply boundary conditions in any unit system, even mixing units. Parts of similar materials can be combined into one material type in the feature tree. Mass flow can be automatically calculated, and X-Y plotting can be done on any path on a cutting plane. The price is unavailable. (Blue Ridge Numerics;

Electronic drawings
Win eDrawings are electronic files (2D CAD drawings or 3D models) that are highly compressed and streamed, and come with a built-in viewer. Once created, eDrawings can be sent as .EXE files anywhere via email and can be viewed by anyone with a Windows operating system-no additional CAD software or viewers necessary. EDrawings comes with interpretation tools including a 3D pointer, virtual folding, and animated drawing views. The eDrawings component tree is present inside the viewer, providing an assembly component breakdown, a drawings view tree, and the ability to view comments by reviewer. eDrawings are created using the eDrawings Publisher that works as a plug-in with SolidWorks or AutoCAD. eDrawings are available at no cost. (SolidWorks;

Optimizing behaviors
Win Behavioral Optimizer is an add-on module to's base product for geometric and functional optimization. It lets users synchronize their optimizations with the mechanical calculations within the Calculations Library or any custom-defined calculations, and automates the process of design iterations. The Behavioral Optimizer resolves optimization problems, including situations in which a designer needs to validate the mechanical feasibility of each possible solution. The solved assembly can include standard parts, standard mechanical engineering calculations, user-defined models, or user-defined calculations created with Microsoft Excel.(MechSoft;

Inventor update
Win/Unix The newest version of Inventor (Release 4 supports adaptive solving, meaning that design constraints can be solved within subassemblies instead of the subassemblies existing as a single rigid body. Inventor has added significant capabilities in the areas of surfacing, sheet metal, file-size reduction (60 to 80 percent versus Release 3), click-and-drag assembly mating, better AutoCAD DWG compatibility, and assembly animation. For knowledge-embedded design, a new feature called iMates (component interfaces) uses predefined knowledge associated within parts to tell them how and where to connect with other parts in an assembly. Users can also choose to open only selected parts within assemblies-potentially a big time saver. The price is unavailable.(Autodesk;

Part and assembly translation
Win/Unix is a unique 3D (no 2D) part and assembly translation product/service that lets users download the translator to their sites for on-demand translation, thus eliminating security concerns, because the CAD data does not leave the system. Users pay by translated file as they go, meaning that they pay only for the times a CAD file is actually translated from one system to another. Translation cost is not a function of file/model size, and the same file can be translated several times using different translation options in a single session without incurring additional cost. It supports most major CAD/CAM systems, including Catia, Pro/Engineer, Unigraphics, Mastercam, ACIS, and Parasolid; and neutral formats, such as IGES and STEP. (;

Version control
Win ConceptStation is a Web-based 3D view and markup tool for design collaboration that incorporates Reality Wave's VizStream technology. ConceptStation's biggest differentiators are its version control mechanism and centralized project space-keeping models and comments made on them by collaborating members organized. Version control lets people leave and come back to a collaboration session without having to guess where they are. Only one copy of each version exists in ConceptStation, meaning that no interim model files are transmitted back and forth. Once a new version of a model is posted, all participants have automatic access to it with no need to update their files. ConceptStation's viewing and mark-up features include pan, zoom, rotate, create section, measure, annotate, mark-up, transparency, highlight, bleed-through, display assembly tree, comment capability. Pricing varies, starting at $300 per year. RealityWave;

Product Markup
Win/Unix QuickConcept Version 2.0 is a modular, standalone collaborative view/markup package that lets tool designers conduct and share visual 3D model review sessions via the Internet with designers and suppliers. It's the tool-making environment and context that set QuickConcept apart from other viewing/markup tools. QuickConcept reinforces Cimatron's "Data-to-Steel" product philosophy, which provides mold, tool, and die makers with several products aimed at shortening product development cycles from the manufacturing perspective. QuickConcept can be used simultaneously among various collaborators in real time. Users can highlight sections of a design to emphasize discussion areas, "chat," and animate core/cavity, and slide actions. The software lets any collaborative team member drive the rest of the team through the model, and provides collaboration on the tooling process without having to download the entire model, as data is transferred via IGES or Cimatron's proprietary file format. The price is unavailable. (Cimatron;

Design alternatives
Win 3G.web.decisions is a decision-making assistance software package that lets a design team simulate the impact of parametric engineering changes on the form, fit, and functional behavior of the design. Design project teams can scroll through literally hundreds of design alternatives in real time. These users can then intelligently determine the design configuration that is the most cost effective, has the highest quality, and is the easiest to manufacture. This is accomplished as 3G.web.decisions builds its unique database, called an Active Solution Space, that contains objects that that associate design configurations to external information that can be used as a guide for engineering alternatives and changes. These knowledge-based objects are fully associative to original CAD geometry and features with assigned parametric ranges, such as conditions and dimensions. These ranges can then be examined and evaluated against engineering criteria for optimizing designs. Currently, the 3G.web.decisions technology supports Solid Edge and SolidWorks, but the company plans to eventually support all CAD systems.(3Ga;

Non-geometric CAD support
Win/Unix EnCapta is a CAD system extension that lets users effectively manage non-geometric design information (text documents, spreadsheets, drawings, handwritten notes, etc.) from within a model and store it in one place. It supplements CAD systems with tools that capture specialized non-geometric design data for comprehensive product definition. Users can retrieve relevant, associated information by clicking on a part or portion of a CAD model. EnCapta has customizable templates for defining the type and structure of the information to be captured as objects. It also has XML tools for extracting specific information from CAD models so it can be posted to other systems or databases. EnCapta is currently available for use with Catia and Pro/Engineer, with Unigraphics to follow soon. The price is unavailable. (Vistagy;

Parts library
Win/Unix Two million mechanical parts are now available online for users of SolidWorks. The parts library from EMT Software include ANSI, ISO, JIS, and DIN standards for machinery design, as well as parts from more than 40 manufacturers, including SKF, Misumi, DME, Torrington, PEM, and NSK. As many as 200,000 parts will be added each month to the database. Parts are listed by manufacturer, category, type, specific dimensions, or part number and can be downloaded as zipped files. The price for a membership is $20. (EMT Software;

Game Development

Game development
Win Renderware Platform gives game studios a development framework that incorporates 2D and 3D graphics, audio, and physics modules. The audio module has a light external API to control the data-driven architecture and supports 3D positional audio. The physics module includes a portfolio of effects built on a common underlying math library, and the 2D/3D graphics toolkit is designed to work on multiple platforms. The price is unavailable. (Criterion Software;


Unix GeoProbe 2.5 volume visualization and interpretation software includes ezFault and ezSurface for fault and surface interpretation. The updated version also has geobody sculpting, surface-bounded autotracking and clipping, and enhanced user control of graphics and probe interaction. Multiple attributes can be handled simultaneously. The price is unavailable. (Magic Earth;

Email faces
Win FaceMail allows users to select photorealistic digital human models to deliver email messages to recipients. Users can download the software, then send and receive email read by digital stand-ins. The software renders human expression and facial wrinkling down to the cellular level. The price is free. (LifeFX;

Modeling and animation

3D flora
Win/Mac/Unix/Linux TreeFX is a real-time engine with a library of trees, foliage, and ground cover for use in 3D environments such as visualization/simulation and games. It provides highly detailed 3D branches, leaves, and grasses with simple geometry. Branches appear to brush aside as you pass. The software computes ground shadows, grass, and strewn leaves, and can be adjusted for various seasons. The price is unavailable. (3D Pipeline Corp.;

Object conversion
Win/Mac ResErect is a 3D object conversion and import plug-in for Discreet's 3D Studio Max and Viz modeling packages. It contains a set of modifier modules to transform 3D mesh, patch, or spline-based objects into optimized splines for reverse engineering, editing and surfacing, and interactivity when modifying the object. In addition, it now has import capability for Hash Animation Master files as textured patches. Many object formats can be reverse -engineered or rebuilt. The price is $149. (Ghost 3D;
Laurie Campbell, 2000.


Broadcast graphics
Unix Frost 2.5 is a real-time broadcasting graphics system. It includes an enhanced plug-in for Discreet's 3ds max 4 to provide two-way file transfer for geometry, cameras, lights, textures, and animations and to provide real-time rendering. Animators can create virtual studios and complex character animations and import them into frost. Project management tools allows users to publish, archive, and restore elements of a project. An integrated FTP client allows image browsing and importing from traditional graphics systems and character generators. The price is unavailable. (Discreet;
Image courtesy NBC News.

Blurring plug-in
Win/Mac/Unix ReelSmart Motion Blur version 1.8 is a plug-in for Nothing Real's Shake and Discreet's Sparks compositing programs, and systems using Avid's AVX. It automatically tracks every pixel and applies blur in the amount and direction of the calculated movement. Users can add the amount of blur they want or remove blur. It can also be used in post processing for 3D animation, eliminating long rendering times. The price is $134.95. An After Effects version is also available for $89.95. (RE:Vision Effects;

Web development

3D Web models
Win Internet Model Optimizer is a software tool for optimizing complex 3D models, created with CAD/CAM/CAE and other design systems, for use on the Web. It allows the user to eliminate selected polygons while retaining the original visual quality and shape of the model. Users can add a range of interactions and animations in the creation of dynamic 3D visualizations and online manuals in single- and multi-user mode. They can also choose to optimize separate parts and shapes of a model and choose batch or manual optimization. The price is unavailable. (Parallel Graphics;


Graphics scanner
Win/Mac The Expression 1680 graphics scanner is designed for graphic arts, photography, and pre-press production. It has a resolution of 1600 by 3200 dpi, 48-bit color depth, 3.6 Dmax, and a FireWire connectivity option. The scanner includes LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 5 scanning software, and is available in four cross-platform software configurations. A precision stepper motor allows half stepping in the vertical direction to double resolution of the CCD sensor. The focal distance can be changed to 2.5 mm above the glass scan bed to eliminate light refraction. The price is $799 to $1399. (Epson;

3D Projector
The VR-4200 is a portable 3D stereoscopic projector that uses single-chip Digital Light Processing Technology from Texas Instruments. It has brightness of 800 ANSI lumens and 1024 by 768 XGA resolution for applications in engineering and scientific visualization and weighs less than six pounds. It can be viewed using polarized glasses or with shutterglass technology. The price is unavailable. (VRex;

Solid imager
Win The Viper si2 solid imaging system builds parts as large as 10 cubic inches and runs with BuildStation software. The system uses either humidity-resistant SL 5510 material or the polypropylene mimic SL 7540. It includes Lightyear 1.2 software for the system's part-building preparation. The price is $799,000. (3D Systems;

Modular printers
Win/Unix Synergix Digital Solutions are scaleable large-format printers that combine with a scan system. They are designed for CAD, commercial reprographics, construction, and manufacturing, and for use by engineering departments, architectural firms, and utilities. They have dynamic background suppression, permanently aligned sensors, the ability to handle documents up to 12mm thick, a flat document stacker, batch mode, upgradeable feature key options, and 256 grayscale conversion from color originals. The price is unavailable. (Xerox Engineering Systems;


New RP alloy
LaserForm ST-100 is a new stainless steel alloy infiltrated with bronze for creating metal rapid prototypes, small volumes of metal production parts, or tooling for plastic injection molding. This new material is designed to be used with DTM's Sinterstation and requires only two basic steps-create the part in a Sinterstation using the selective laser sintering (SLS) process; and placing the sintered part in a kiln-like oven where it's infiltrated with bronze. Metal parts produced using this process are fully dense and functional and can be machined, welded, and finished. The price is unavailable. (DTM Corp.;