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Briefings: June 2004

By DE Editors

MTS and NI To Develop Noise/Vibe Testing Framework
MTS Systems Corp. (Eden Prairie, MN; website) and National Instruments (NI;Austin, TX; website) have announced a long-term contractual agreement to deliver a low-cost framework for standardized noise and vibration testing. The companies will address the unmet need for cost-effective test solutions that engineers can use in exploratory testing and in standardizing test procedures across facilities and among system suppliers. With engineering support from NI, MTS will spearhead the development of this new noise and vibration testing framework using its current products and NI’s industry-standard software and hardware products for test automation.

MTS plans to use the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment as the cornerstone of this new framework and will provide increasing support in the framework for NI’s current and future software and instrumentation offerings. The new framework is intended to help noise and vibration experts quickly define and inexpensively deploy standardized tests that engineers and technicians can use in product development and manufacturing, effectively applying the same tools for test development and test automation.

The agreement builds on the already strong working relationship between the companies. MTS and National Instruments expect to disclose a detailed product roadmap to select customers later this year. For more information about the shared vision of these companies, go to ni.com/mts or mts.com/ni 

Accel-KKR to Acquire Alias from sgi for $57.5 Million

The Pontiac Solstice concept roadster (left) was designed using Alias’s StudioTools design software.



Accel-KKR (Menlo Park, CA; website) and Alias (Toronto, ONT, Canada, website), a Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI; Mountain View, CA; website) company, have announced that Accel-KKR, with participation from the management of Alias, will acquire Alias from SGI for $57.5 million. Alias is the provider of 3D graphics technology, services, and software, including products such as Alias Wavefront, Maya, and StudioTools. Accel-KKR is a technology-focused private equity firm.

According to Ben Bisconti, managing director of Accel-KKR, “As an independent company, Alias will be in an even better position to capitalize on growth trends in the market and lead the industry in new and exciting directions.”

“Our plan,” added Doug Walker, president of Alias, “is to accelerate investment in the product and service areas that provide the greatest payback for our entertainment and design customers.”

Alias’s traditional strengths have been in the automotive, industrial design, visualization, film, video games, Web, interactive media, and education markets. The sale was expected to close during the second quarter.

Web-Based Support Center Launched for GibbsCAM

Gibbs and Associates (Moorpark, CA; website) have launched a new web-based support center for GibbsCAM customers. It provides users with support services ranging from discussion groups to a knowledge base. Customers can also submit software problem reports online and track their resolution. Though the company expects customers will continue to call in with questions during office hours, the support center will be available 24 hours a day from the company website for all GibbsCAM customers.


Test Drive Specialized Data Management Software for Full Functionality

A free fully functioning evaluation version of Arendar data management software for test and measurement environments is now available from VI Technology (Austin, TX; website). Arendar 2.2 lets test engineers manage test data locally and globally, across the lab and factory, over the Internet. It leverages Oracle, SQL Server, and MSDE databases to store and retrieve test data, but it does not require database expertise to use. Its graphical configuration of databases and automatic code generation for popular test development software helps test engineers get their data management systems up and running quickly and easily. This version contains a CD, a printed quick-start guide, and the complete set of Arendar manuals in PDF format. Visit vi-tech.com to place an order.

Which Comes First – CAD or CAE?

Recent predictions that the computer-aided engineering (CAE) market would grow at a rate significantly faster than that of computer-aided design (CAD) appear correct. Paul Bemis, vice president of eBusiness and Product Planning for Fluent, Inc. (Lebanon, NH; website), believes that CFD growth is already greater than the 14 percent predicted by Daratech in 2002. (See Elements of Analysis supplement.)

In a recent chat, Bemis said he also believes that CAE growth signifies an important change in attitude about product development. It reflects a growing recognition that to get the best design, engineers must focus on analysis ahead of design. They should do a rough approximation of the design, he says, either by assembling existing component designs from a database or by using sketching capabilities built into CAE systems, then analyze the conceptual design, and send the improved concept to CAD for detailing.

Bemis notes that 20 years ago, Paul Hruska, an aircraft engine designer and manufacturer with Honeywell Engines in Phoenix, Arizona, wanted tools that would let him get the specified weight, fuel consumption, and thrust of an engine on which he was bidding. If he knew that, he could figure out what it would take—in terms of cost, time, and labor—to build it and get it to the customer on time.

“If he knew how the engine would perform, and how much it varied from previous models,” Bemis says, “he could send the results to CAD for documentation and production of plans for CAM. Probabilistic studies would help here as well, especially to determine geometric variation, material failure, and tolerances. What’s important here is that CAD would be a component of the product development story—not the whole story.”

Although Hruska never realized his desires, it is now time, says Bemis, after spending decades improving CAD products and using the results to improve manufactured products, to find the next level of improvement and efficiency.

“Nowadays, engineering managers need to understand engineering very well,” he says, “to see what will happen to the product and its performance if different aspects should be varied, and what could cause failure. To get such answers, they need to put the engineering back into design and turn to CAE.”

The relative growth rates of CAE and CAD appear to bear him out. Bemis believes that CAD developers find CAE “boring,” but claims that the reverse is true, saying the real excitement is in CAE. Traditionally, design starts with a rough concept and goes on to detailed designs before being handed to CAE. “But designers tend to get attached to their detailed designs on the one hand, and CAE doesn’t need details such as surface finishes and fillets. CAE needs to get out in front.”

But, notes Bemis, it will take time for that to happen. Design is currently CAD oriented, and companies have invested heavily in it and need time to realize that they need performance data up front. What do you think? Would analysis of conceptual designs improve your products? Let us know your thoughts by contacting us at de-editors@deskeng.com.

Louise Elliott is a contributing editor for Desktop Engineering

Support Broadens in the CAD Viewing Arena

AutoVue Service Pack Released

Cimmetry Systems (Montreal, Que; website) has released a new service pack for AutoVue 17.1 collaboration, visualization, and markup application. It adds full support for AutoCAD 2005 from Autodesk (San Rafael, CA; website), including that application’s Sheet Set Files and new entities. This service pack is available immediately for AutoVue users under maintenance.

The service pack also adds support for such file formats as Cadence SPECCTRA 14 and 15, CoCreate ME10 version 12, PADS PowerLogic, Solid Edge 15, Visio 2003, and Protel Schematics 98, 99, and 99SE 15. For details, visit Cimmetry’s website.

In related news, Cimmetry and Omnify Software (Wilmington, MA;website) have announced a partnership in which Cimmetry’s AutoVue technology will be embedded in the Omnify PLM (product lifecycle management) suite.

The Omnify PLM suite enables OEMs in the mid-market electronic, medical, mechanical, and defense industries to manage part, BOM (bill of materials), engineering change, and documentation information within a single location. It uses a web architecture that facilitates bidirectional integration with an organization’s engineering and enterprise systems, ensuring data automatic entry and extraction.

Since AutoVue technology offers exacting functionality for EDA formats, including schematics and PCB/IC layouts, it will provide Omnify PLM’s users with a single point of access to view, mark up, and collaborate on all documents that are associated with the product record.

Autodesk DWF Now Supported by HP Large-Format Printing Solutions

Hewlett Packard’s (HP; Palo Alto, CA;website) large-format printers now support the Autodesk design Web format (DWF) to offer an efficient method of exchanging and printing design documents throughout the engineering project lifecycle. The two companies hope the support will address the requirements of manufacturing and infrastructure design professionals who need to continually improve productivity and simplify the process of printing engineering documents.

Smaller and faster to transmit than native or alternative design file formats, DWF places less demand on system resources. DWF files also maintain intelligent design data, ensuring the user sees the design exactly as it was intended. DWF files are easy to create and enable designers, engineers, and their colleagues to quickly and easily communicate design information electronically to anyone needing to view, mark up, review, or print the design information. DWF publishing is integrated into Autodesk products, or is available with the Autodesk DWF Writer, a free application that enables designers to create DWF files from any CAD or Microsoft Windows application.

A clarification or two:

  • In the February 2004 CAM Resource Guide chart, Surfware’s SurfCAM product should have indicated Solid Edge as a supported file format.

  • In the April 2004 View and Markup Resource Guide chart, the price of Spicer Corp’s. (spicer.com) ViewCafe 3.2 was listed incorrectly. The actual price is $295 per concurrent user. Imagenation 7.3 was listed as a 2D graphics viewer, but it is actually both a 2D and 3D viewer.

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