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What’s New in the World of Design Components and Kernels?

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: September 3 2013

Those folks that follow the 3D and 2D computer aided design (CAD) space are aware that all major design, manufacturing, and engineering software products are based on geometry modeling kernels and a variety of other development components. Spatial Corp., a Dassault Systèmes subsidiary, is one prominent provider of 3D development software components for technical applications across a broad range of industries. Spatial 3D modeling, 3D visualization, and CAD translation software components help application developers deliver competitive products, while maintaining focus on core competencies and reducing time-to-market.

ACIS, the first commercially available 3D modeling kernel, and SAT (standing for Spatial Awareness from Textual input) are registered trademarks of Spatial Corp. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Autodesk Inventor uses ACIS as a matter of speaking, although Autodesk has bought the code to develop ShapeManager, so the company no longer depends on the commercial version of ACIS. There are also many other smaller 3D app vendors leveraging ACIS.

CGM Kernel

CGM (Convergence Geometric Modeler) is the core geometry and topology modeler for Dassault CATIA and SIMULIA as well as SolidWorks V6. I don’t know who originally created CGM but it is now under Spatial Corp. (which was acquired by Dassault Systèmes in 2000). Most recently, Spatial Corp. joined Geometric Limited in announcing Geometric DFX, a standalone application for carrying out the DFX validation of product designs.

Geometric describes DFX as “Design for X” where X represents various downstream process checks related to design goals such as manufacturability, assembly, quality, serviceability, environment, or reliability. It is essential to incorporate DFX guidelines early in product development to reduce defects, minimize rework, eliminate waste, shorten time to market, and save costs. Customary methods involved time consuming and costly manual checks. The various manufacturing processes currently supported include assembly, machining, casting, injection molding, and sheet metal fabrication. Geometric DFX should benefit manufacturing companies in domains such as automotive, consumer durables, aerospace, high-tech, medical equipment, and contract electronics manufacturing.

As the kernel used in Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform, delivering offerings such as CATIA Mechanical Design, SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Conceptual, and SIMULIA Results Explorer, Geometric recognized CGM as a modeler that has proven itself in leading-edge applications. CGM can also deliver more than traditional 3D modeling, including reliable data reuse, allowing app developers to optimize their engineering resources and expertise. In addition to leveraging CGM, Geometric DFX provides data reuse through the 3D InterOp CAD data translation framework from Spatial. This should enable Geometric DFX to provide support for a wide range of proprietary CAD formats, such as CATIA V5, NX, Creo, Pro/ENGINEER (Pro/E), Solid Edge, Inventor, and SolidWorks, as well as open formats, such as Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP) and IGES (Initial Graphics Exchange Specification).

Other Notable Kernels and Components

Granite is PTC’s original kernel for Pro/E (now Creo Parametric), whereas Parasolid is used in SolidWorks’ older versions (V6 and future versions will have dual kernels—CGM and Parasolid), as well as Siemens NX, Solid Edge, and a slew of other third-party CAD and like software. Siemens PLM Software purchased Parasolid years ago from its creator ShapeData.

Most recently, Siemens PLM Software released the latest versions of two of its D-Cubed component software products, Version 62.0 of the 2D Dimensional Constraint Manager (2D DCM) and Profile Geometry Manager (PGM). The D-Cubed components are six software libraries that can be licensed by software developers for integration into their products. The capabilities they provide include geometric constraint solving, parametric sketching, part and assembly design, motion simulation, collision detection, clearance measurement, and hidden line visualization. Applications into which these components are integrated include mechanical CAD, computer aided manufacturing (CAM), computer aided engineering (CAE), mold, sheet metal, mechanism, garment, architectural, civil, structural, plant and ship design, geographic information systems (GIS), coordinate measuring machines (CMM), reverse engineering, and configurators.

Siemens PLM Software uses the D-Cubed components in its own products and licenses them to independent software vendors (ISVs) and end-user organizations for integration into their products and research projects. Given a number of strange bedfellows in the CAD arena (by way of acquisitions), where fierce competitors still embed each other’s kernels and design components, we hope that this article might help in navigating design components and standards and their current use.
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