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Briefings: July 2004

By DE Editors

MATLAB 7 Expands Power and Scope

The MathWorks is now shipping version 7 of its flagship technical computing platform, MATLAB. MATLAB 7 offers productivity tools that enable rapid, iterative program creation. In addition, MATLAB 7 offers built-in support for integer and single-precision floating-point math, as well as language features for managing and analyzing larger data sets. Assorted optimizations across data types, operations, and functions result in improved computational performance of end-user applications.

Productivity improvements include a redesigned desktop with programming and debugging tools, automated program analysis for code quality, and publishing of code and output directly to HTML and Word. Interactive point-and-click plotting tools make creating MATLAB graphics faster and include the ability to generate code that recreates plotting sessions for later use or redistribution.

MATLAB 7 lets you work on larger data sets because of its support for integer and single-precision data types, which afford significant performance and storage savings compared with double-precision values. This capability combined with new FFT (fast Fourier transform) algorithms enables users to perform a single-precision FFT 20 percent faster than before, says the company. Also, MATLAB now takes advantage of the Intel MMX library, resulting in up to eight times faster computations on integer data.

Also new in the MATLAB family is an enhanced compiler that supports the full MATLAB language, including most MATLAB toolboxes. The MATLAB Compiler enables engineers to deploy their MATLAB work to others as self-contained applications or incorporate their algorithms in environments such as Excel, C, C++, and COM.

In related news, The MathWorks also announced the immediate availability of Simulink 6, its software for simulation and embedded system development. Simulink 6 brings model-based design to complex projects encompassing large models and multiple design teams. New capabilities in Simulink for controls, signal processing, and communications support a broader range of applications.

Both MATLAB 7 and Simulink 6 are available for Windows, Unix/Linux, and Macintosh systems. Pricing starts at $1,900 for MATLAB and $2,800 for Simulink.

The MathWorks announced the introduction of MATLAB 7 in early June.

The MathWorksmathworks.com

Sweet 16 for Solid Edge

UGS Corp. has unveiled Solid Edge Version 16. The further refinement of the software’s built-in Insight design management technology is a major focus of this release. V16 also offers noteworthy enhancements in its 2D/3D hybrid design and mold-making capabilities. Shipments are expected to begin in September.

UGS says that Solid Edge V16’s Insight technology provides improved focus on capturing and maintaining design intent to make designing complex products easier. New system design features include adjustable parts, fastener systems, and dynamic families of assemblies. V16 also offers a new capability to create 3D parts from 2D assembly layouts and new hybrid 2D/3D design tools, including a unique Zero D capability to define product structure before committing geometry to paper.

For consumer product design, V16 introduces Virtual Studio+, a photorealistic-rendering solution with a sketch-based rendering facility for early-stage representations and concept reviews. For machine design, there’s a new frame design and piping capability to complement its systems design and hybrid 2D/3D enhancements. Also with V16, Solid Edge Mold Tooling toolbox now automates the design of additional features such as runner bars, slides, inserts, stripper plates, and water channels. Mold Tooling also comes with standard libraries for popular component suppliers and a new capability to define custom mold bases.

In related news, Blue Ridge Numerics has received notification that its recently released CFdesign v7.0 fluid flow and thermal simulation software satisfies all requirements of the Solid Edge Certified Select Partner Solution Program, providing the highest level of integration with Solid Edge. For complete details, visit cfdesign.com.

Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc.

UGS Corp. – Solid Edge solid-edge.com

Analysis-Driven Design Is Already Here

When participating in the CFD roundtable discussion that appeared in Elements of Analysis with DE last month, I was impressed by the notion that the time had come for analysis to drive design, rather than the other way around, as expressed by Paul Bemis of Fluent. Then, when I spoke with David Earle of Santa Cruz Bicycles for an application story in this issue (see “Building a Better Bicycle,” p. 14), he made it clear that this capability already exists to some degree in Pro/Engineer Wildfire.

PTC calls it Behavioral Modeling (or BMX), and says that it’s meant to capture design intent at the conceptual design stage, and make it available throughout the design cycle. Based on the Mechanica Optimization engine, BMX makes it possible for a design engineer to create a sketched 2D model, determine essential measurements and dimensions, and drag design sections around to create alternate versions.

Behavioral Modeling offers four major simulation functions (for the 2D model): sensitivity studies to determine the effects of specific parameter changes; optimization for specific requirements; feasibility studies to obtain a range of possible solutions; and multiobjective studies based on design of experiments. These tools can be accessed from within Pro/Engineer Wildfire.

Earle of Santa Cruz Bicycles considers BMX to be the most critical capability within Pro/Engineer for his needs, and he also uses solid modeling, advanced surfacing, mechanisms studies, and Mechanica simulation.

Does anyone else offer similar tools? Well, yes and no. Both UGS PLM Solutions and Dassault Systemes offer functional optimization systems. However, in both cases, these are based on data input designed to tie in with additional PLM functions, rather than on a discrete conceptual design.

Philippe Marecaux of Dassault says, “At the conceptual stage of development, CATIA Product Function Optimizer 2 allows you to detect engineering problems by creating functional systems for a product, and provides helpful methods and knowledge databases for solving problems.” The system uses Invention Machine Corp.’s TechOptimizer knowledge base.

UGS offers an Optimization Wizard for use with NX Design, based on NX’s “core technology Knowledge Fusion,” according to Thomas Teger of UGS. Users enter their goal and their design parameters, and the system will either devise a precise solution, come as close as it can, or report that the design isn’t feasible.

The CATIA and NX approaches use data analysis to solve problems, rather than CAE-derived data to drive designs. All of these tools aim to increase innovation, but even if less connected to PLM functions now (PTC plans to add more functionality), BMX looks more intuitive, and closer to the way engineers—who used to draw their concepts on napkins—would find it most comfortable to innovate. I hope to come back to these concepts again in the future, in greater depth.

Louise Elliott is a contributing editor for Desktop Engineering.

Dassault Systemes of America Corp.

Invention Machine Corp.

PTC – Parametric Technologies Corp.

UGS Corp.

Inventor Series 9 Announced

Autodesk, Inc. has announced the upcoming release of its Autodesk Inventor Series 9 manufacturing design software suite. Autodesk Inventor Series 9 delivers enhanced performance for 3D users, new drawing capabilities such as styles and layers, and advanced DWG support for AutoCAD users moving to 3D. In simultaneous announcements, Autodesk and ANSYS, Inc. said that Autodesk Inventor Professional now includes advanced analysis functionality powered by ANSYS technology.

The reach of Series 9 helps manufacturers create, manage, and share design data, all of which accelerates product development cycles and optimizes existing investments in design data. According to the company, Autodesk Inventor Series 9 can help designers develop drawings more quickly and with fewer mistakes than with previous versions. An integrated 2D and 3D design tool, Autodesk Inventor Series 9 also enables customers to work with existing 2D designs and move to 3D at their own pace.

Key enhancements include the full integration of Autodesk Vault into all Autodesk manufacturing design software to provide data management capabilities to store, manage, and organize design data, synchronize design-related efforts across teams, and protect against inadvertent changes. Other enhancements include AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Electrical, and Autodesk Streamline and DWF functionality.

The ANSYS FEA (finite element analysis) functionality enables design engineers to execute stress and strain analyses directly in Autodesk Inventor. ANSYS’s part-level stress and resonant frequency simulation technologies coupled with Autodesk Inventor Professional 9 will let design engineers create designs based on how the products function in the real world. With ANSYS, designers will be able to run what-if studies quickly from within Autodesk Inventor Professional.

Ansys, Inc.

Autodesk, Inc.


SolidWorks 2005 Adds 250+ User-Driven Features & Mold Design Validation

SolidWorks’s SolidWorks2005 has more than 250 user-requested features and enhancements, including Moldflow’s Xpress mold design validation software, said to be the first such tool built into a solid modeling environment.

Key improvements in version 2005 include a large design library for machine design; enhanced loft features for consumer product design; application-specific user interfaces; an embedded editor for AutoCAD files; and a Task Pane on the SolidWorks desktop.

Moldflow Xpress enables designers to determine quickly whether a plastic-injection-molded part can be filled. SolidWorks 2005 also offers a side core feature that automatically creates side-core and lifter geometry.

SolidWorks also announced the 2005 version of its entire COSMOS line of analysis software. Updated with more than 100 user-driven enhancements.The new version offers tighter SolidWorks integration redesigned tool icons, embedded nonlinear analysis, and performance upgrades.

Moldflow Corp.

SolidWorks Corp.

New Technology Enables CFD-Based Design

While MCAD/CAM geometry provides the underpinnings for CFD (computational fluid dynamics) models, such models are inherently created for manufacturing purposes and not for CFD-based shape design. Or so says Optimal Solutions. The company further asserts that the geometry used for CFD grid generation does not provide the desired parameters for CFD-based shape design. These are the conundrums that Optimal Solutions says its Sculptor automatic shape-optimization tool for CFD-based design overcomes. The key behind all this is a new technology called Arbitrary Shape Deformation (ASD).

Sculptor provides engineers with a toolset for interactively modifying complex geometric models into optimized shapes, enabling engineers to define the desired shape-changing parameters and deform the CFD shape. It can import CFD grid models in Fluent, StarCD, Plot3d, and others, and lets you define design variables (from the available shape-changing parameters) in preparation for automatic shape optimization.

For complete details and to view a cool and informative image gallery, go to the Optimal Solutions’s website.

Optimal Solutions optimalsolutions.com

CNC Software Celebrates 20 Years in CAD/CAM Development

This year marks the 20th Anniversary for CNC Software, Inc., which was formed by brothers Mark and Jack Summers in 1984. They formed the company to provide state-of-the-art CAD/CAM software for manufacturing markets, and the purpose remains their mission today.

“I started out as a machinist,” says CNC Software President Mark Summers, ” and I have remained a machinist at heart for the past two decades. It’s a straightforward approach to effective CAD/CAM; real-shop knowledge combined with the best software programmers in the industry.”

Summers says the future has plenty in store: “Just over the next few years,” he says, “we will see the explosion of multiuse machines along with new techniques to program them. High-speed machining is becoming commonplace. Software is being developed that knows all the details of the machine that it is programming. It’s an exciting time.” And, adds Summers, if anyone checks back in with him in 20 years to see where CAD and CAM have taken us, “You’ll find me in the shop.”

CNC Software/Mastercam

About DE Editors

DE's editors contribute news and new product announcements to Digital Engineering. Press releases can be sent to them via DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.