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Issue #713 |  November 29, 2011 

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In This Issue

1. Geomagic Studio and Wrap 2012


2. Carl Bass on the Immediate Future for Autodesk Customers

    - On PLM
    - On Cloud
    - On Software Distribution
    - On Acquisitions


3. Out of the Inbox, and other regular columns.


Geomagic Studio and Wrap 2012

It's been sixteen months since Geomagic's Studio and Wrap V12 were released, and now the latest update has a new revision number, 2012 -- to avoid calling it "v13," I suppose. Senior product manager Kevin Scofield last week walked me through what's new and improved.

Geomagic's software reads data points from laser and other scanners, and then helps you convert the millions of dots into 3D surfaces and solids, following which the objects are translated for use in 3D CAD systems.

Release 2012 handles a larger number of data points, and speeds up the processing of data some 10-40%. Despite the fact that this software is meant for working with large data sets, Geomagic is surprised that a slight majority of its customers still use 32-bit computers -- ones that are limited to 3GB RAM, which limits the amount of data that can be stored in memory without paging to disk (a slowing-down process). To make these users happy, Geomagic improved the speed through better memory management and multi-threading.

In Geomagic 2012 you can create your own commands by tying custom ribbon buttons to custom scripts. A neat feature is searching for commands: as you type in letters of a command, such as "B-O-U-N," the ribbon contracts with each letter to show just those commands starting with "b," "bo," "bou," and "boun."

The software doesn't use layers, and so there was no way to turn off parts. In 2012, you can turn off unwanted elements and when saved, only the visible elements are shown next time the file is opened. Objects (or rather, clumps of points, such as a chair or statute) can be isolated to view just a few million points (!).

You can now filter points by distance, such as to see only the scan data between 3m and 30m. This can get rid of accidentally scan bits, like trees across the street. Until now, you could not go inside buildings, for Geomagic just had clipping planes. So, now you can do walk-thrus, and can place the camera at the same point the at which the scanner was located to get the best view of the room.

There is a new option to handle sparse points and areas with holes, and it reduces the amount of overlap from two or more scans. Some customers want to create new solids from non-solid CAD geometry, such as mesh data from a FEA package. In 2012, you can specify sharp edges and re-polygonize the mesh to make it dense. A new surfacing routine fits polygons to the data -- almost like shrinkwrapping.

When areas are not scanned, data is missing, and Geomagic used to interpolate the missing bits. A solution is to rescan for the missing areas, and a new tool aligns the added scan data to existing ones. In other cases, you might take advantage of the model's symmetry to fill in missed areas: mirror or copy another area to patch the hole, and then use the new deformation tool to "smoosh" the patch smoothly.

Geomagic exports its models to "any" CAD package through neutral file formats, but 2012 now adds a "Send to SpaceClaim" button for transferring the file to SpaceClaim for direct editing.

Mattel uses Geomagic to reverse-engineer their toys for theme parts, or to take older products like Hot Wheels or Barbie for which CAD files do not exist. Or to add new accessories for Barbie. Automotive companies use the software to reverse-engineer their own tooling, as well as parts on the vehicles of competitors. Consumer goods, too, like for iPhone cases, becuse Apple does not provide CAD models to third parties.

Wrap is the cheapest module at $8,000; the full suite is $20,000. The company is thinking of getting into the consumer market, but is waiting to see which technology pulls ahead. "We're all carrying scanners around in our pocket, and now we need software to stitch it together," said Mr Scofield. The problem with photogrammic scanning, however, is that it lacks accuracy and cameras tend to skew the image (wide angle bulging). So, it is good enough for video games and Google Earth, but not for manufacturing. Computationally, it is not an easy problem to solve, but it could well be the 3D scanning technique of the future.




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Carl Bass on the Immediate Future for Autodesk Customers

During his conference call discussing Autodesk's 12Q3 financial results, ceo Carl Bass spoke on several issues that will affect his customers:



Two weeks from today, at our Autodesk University event, we'll be unveiling our offering for entering the PLM [product lifecycle management] market. ...we'll be addressing the significant market opportunity with a very unique approach which will enable manufacturers, as well as AEC [architecture, engineering, construction] and M&E [media and entertainment] companies, to achieve the full promise of PLM for the first time.

Our cloud-based approach will be easy-to-use, implement, and deploy. It will be scalable, configurable and intuitive, which is a sharp contrast to the decades-old legacy technology in the market now. We think that customers are starving for this new kind of solution, and Autodesk succeeds in introducing this kind of disruptive technology.

On the Cloud

...we recently launched Autodesk Cloud, a collection of more than a dozen Web-based capabilities. These services will enable customers to extend their desktops with greater mobility, while offering new viewing and sharing capabilities, and will provide more computing power, helping our users to better design, visualize and simulate their ideas.

On Software Distribution

Electronic download has benefited our subscription customers for the past three years. We're now aiming to increase the use of electronic delivery in developed countries [such as Europe and North America] by making new licenses of most of our products available for electronic delivery.

In advance of this action, we initiated a plan to further reduce our already low inventory in the channel during the third quarter, and we will continue to do so in the fourth quarter. Channel inventory was reduced by approximately $10 million in the third quarter in conjunction with this initiative.

Over time, we expect to phase in the electronic download availability of new licenses in emerging countries [such as South America and Africa], as well. It's worth noting that channel inventory now stands at only 1.5 weeks.

On Acquisitions

We have a long history of acquiring small businesses and leading-edge technologies and integrating them into the fabric of Autodesk in our products. In the third quarter alone, we closed 10 small but strategically important business and technologies -- and technology acquisitions, totaling close to $90 million net of cash acquired. These transactions were across all of our business units. We believe these purchases are an important component to advancing our products and offerings and delivering more value to our customers.

Reprinted courtesy of http://seekingalpha.com/article/308199-autodesk-s-ceo-discusses-q3-2012-results-earnings-call-transcript





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Out of the Inbox

Sivan Design announces CivilCAD 2012 Solution Suite for road design and construction, layouts of pipelines, earthworks design, surveying, and drive-through 3D simulations. http://www.sivandesign.com

Alcove9 releases a9 Hub (finds, sorts, categorizes and displays all data and file types), a9 CADViz (view and markup CAD files) and a9 AppConect (connectors for ERP, MRO, ECM, RM, PDM and PLM systems). http://www.alcove9.com

OpenDesign Alliance officially moves its office from Washington (state) to Arizona. It had started up in WA in 1998 by Visio Corp, a Seattle company at that time. Also, a change of significance: "Under the new arrangement the license granted to Founding members to use and distribute Teigha is independent of the ODA's existence. This gives Founding members long term security to continue developing products using Teigha." The independent DWG and DGN API company has 1,200 members. http://www.opendesign.com
In other news, ODA is beta-testing a translator for moving 3D data from DWG to Collada format.

Grabert provides new code to DraftSight from Dassault Systemes and CorelCAD from Corel:

Kenneth Hill writes to tell us about a proposed CAD/CAM StackExchange site at http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/35789/cad-cam-software. "If you're not familiar with StackExchange, it's a community moderated and reputation driven Q&A site," he says.

On the one hand, you've got clanky consumer-grade -- nay, kid's grade -- 3D printers at $500, and commercial grade ones whose pricing seems stuck at around $14,000. The excitement over HP's entry into 3D printing has abated. Objet tried a $3000 price tag that failed. Now Stratasys offers a uPrint 3D printer at $290 a month, lease price, which they say "is less expensive than average outsourced job." Offer available in USA only. http://www.Stratasys.com

In related news, 3D Systems raised $152 million privately in order to afford the purchase of $132 million for Z Corp (3D printers) and Vidar (large format scanners). HT: Randall Newton. Let's just say we hope the company hasn't overextended itself.

Geometric Q2 revenues rose 26 from a year ago, to US$41.4 million.

Former independent blogger Josh Mings is now web marketing manager for Luxion.

Precast Concrete Institute has a BIM committee that developed an IFC workflow for the precast industry, supported by Vectorworks, Scia, StructureWorks, and Tekla. Well, preliminarily, anyhow: "The demo is just an initial stepping stone to deal with all the major exchanges facilitating precast workflows," said coordinator Chuck Eastman. "We expect other companies aspiring to support precast work will be joining later." http://www.pci.org

Hmmm.... ITI TranscenData has a whitepaper titled, Managing CATIA V4 Obsolescence: Five Strategies for the Last Minute Migration. The migration is not to V6, but to V5. Free, after giving ITI your particulars at http://blog.transcendata.com/CATIA-V4-Obsolescence/?utm_campaign=V4-WP-PR (don't click the arrow).

Siemens PLM is busting out with offers of the sort thought unimaginable just one year ago. There's a "Buy One Get One Free" offer for Solid Edge, with the catches that you also have to purchase at least one Maintenance Pack, available in USA only, and ends December 16. On Twitter, some people are saying they'd rather get a single copy for half price than two for full price. http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/velocity/solidedge/forms/solid-edge-bogo.cfm

Then there is the no-charge trial version that runs 50% longer than most other trial versions, 45 days, with the bonus that it's the whole enchilada, such as FEA and Catia V4 xlators. You have to register before downloading, but for me the registration page wouldn't finish loading. You might have better luck than me at http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/velocity/solidedge/free-solid-edge.shtml

I see that Siemens PLM is still using the marketing phrase "Velocity Series" for Solid Edge and related software. Weren't they supposed to replace it -- or at least get rid of it?

@bauskas (Alex Bausk) on Twitter: "You know, for every skyscraper out there, there's at least one happy, competent, and possibly wealthy structural engineer who analyzed it?"

@ralphg (Ralph Grabowski): "Why do PR people send press releases with Confidentiality Notice: 'The contents of this e-mail are confidential and may also be privileged'."

@rtara (Roopinder Tara): "Telll the next PR person you didn't use the news because of the confidentiality clause just for reaction."

Letters to the Editor

Re: Maximus for MCAD
"You remind me of a circus ring master, the guy who directs the crowd's attention to the latest and greatest, here under the big top -- what a circus CAD is!

"[nVidia's] Dave Watters is a salesman. The realistic visualization of parts is rarely necessary while they are being developed. Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. Hard to justify the expense -- unless, of course, you've been desperately searching for someone, ANYONE, who will accept the extra few thousand dollars that are taking up space in your pocket. "
- Peter Lawton

"We have translated your article on Maximus and added couple pictures from Nvidia: http://isicad.ru/ru/articles.php?article_num=14811

"In the editorial preface, I gave two small quotes from Randall Newton, and explained why I put my own title to the whole publication: 'Maximus from NVIDIA provides new big possibilities for users and stimulate vendors'. My point is that vendors should be happy to actively exploit new hardware to invent new software features that earlier were impossible and that set new challenges for hardware producers."
- David Levin, co-founder
LEDAS, Russia

Re: The Cloud is Dead?
"Wasn't it refreshing that in the days of A2Ki [AutoCAD 2000i] that Autodesk was forward thinking? Even then with the add-in of Buzzsaw, you were able to collaborate with peers across distances, access your work outside the network, and never suffer data loss again? And now the Cloud is the buzzword? Maybe Autodesk may rebrand their slogan to 'Autodesk, too progressive for our time'.

"Buzzsaw was too aggressive sounding for the masses anyway. 'Hey Jim can you run those new models through the Buzzsaw and Alice may do the analysis on what's left? Thanks'."
- Ted Collins, construction & growth representative
Union Gas Limited

"A lot of future value (and therefore features) of Autodesk products are going to be cloud-based and will be included in the subscription. The future will be to be services on subscription. And that's why the cloud isn't dead."
- Martyn Day
x3dmedia, England

"Cloud Services Credentials Easily Stolen Via Google Code Search: http://www.darkreading.com/cloud-security/167901092/security/vulnerabilities/231902718/cloud-services-credentials-easily-stolen-via-google-code-search.html."
- Lynn Brielmaier

"Obviously the cloud is not going away anytime soon and we need to look at what parts of this concept are applicable and which are not without dismissing it all as annoying. To simply call it dead risks invoking 'the moron portal', transporting you back in time to stand beside pundits who thought CAD was a waste of time and we should just stick with vellum and tilty desks.

"We have always maintained what the cloud means to CAD is primarily a value point around collaboration and enabling project and BIM stakeholders a chance to centralize all of the facts in one spot and agree on one version of the truth -- whether the assets live in a private or public cloud as dictated by individual security needs. Autodesk has done a miserable job of this and its up to the rest of us to embrace in our software the notion of the collaboration of professionals over the web and liberating this market from the clutches of Carl and Co. I think they used to call it 'choice' or 'free will' or something.

"To put our money where our mouth is on this topic, anyone interested in a sneak preview of the new collaboration system for game development (and playing them!) we're working on with the Unity folks should ping me for a VIP pass. Preference given to those with good Autodesk/DOJ jokes. To as why we're working in gaming these days and not CAD, it turns out that 43% of gamers are now girls and we kinda got distracted -- we'll be back!"
- Christopher C. Boothroyd, ceo
GameString, Canada


Notable Quotable

"What attracted Yahoo most to Groupon was the promise of personalized offers. What attracted Groupon to Yahoo was just about nothing."
- Nicholas Carlson, "INSIDE GROUPON: The Truth About The World's Most Controversial Company"



upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 12,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at editor@upfrontezine.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.


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Entire contents copyright 2011 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.

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