Mark Williams is the new vice president of worldwide sales at Spatial Corp. This matters, because Spatial is the division of Dassault Systemes whose job it is to provide SDKs [software development toolkits] for technical applications. The SDKs handle 3D modeling, 3D visualization, and CAD translation. They include those originally developed by Spatial, plus those developed by parent Dassault, such as CGM Core Modeler.
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Ralph Grabowski: Tell our readers a little bit about your background. Mark Williams: Before Spatial I spent a short time at an energy IoT [Internet of things] startup where I worked at rebranding, repositioning, and refocusing that ten-year-old “startup” that does energy asset monitoring. Before moving to the startup, I was vp of sales for Thinkworx [enterprise IoT] at PTC, and prior to that I was their vice president of sales for mid-markets in North America. Even earlier, I was at Dassault Systemes, I worked in enterprise sales for the ENOVIA brand.
Grabowski: What made you move to Spatial? Williams: A local recruiter actually reached out to me and presented the opportunity at Spatial. I liked the idea of being back at Dassault, and working for a company in Colorado. It helped that Spatial has a long heritage of leading-edge technology. [The company goes back to 1985, releasing the first version of ACIS in 1989, with HP as the first customer.]
Grabowski: What is your role at Spatial? Williams: I helped transform Spatial’s business for the needs of the next generation of 3D solutions. Spatial’s capabilities in modeling, visualization and interoperability provide a basis for many different domains. Our solutions provide the basis for everything from CAD, augmented reality, simulation, BIM, and additive manufacturing.
Grabowski: Does your hire mean Dassault is getting into IoT? Williams: I can't speak to what Dassault is doing as it relates to IoT, but we have a very strong foothold in additive manufacturing and BIM [building information modeling]. These are the two areas where you will see more from Spatial.
Grabowski: Did you say "BIM?" Williams: The growth of the CAD/CAM/CAE market is moderate, but there is tremendous growth, for example, in the area of BIM. We have a base of customers who use our solutions to provide robust applications in BIM.
My job is to build a world-class sales organization, including services and support, that is vested in the success of our customer’s, as well as focus on working with customers to help them solve their business challenges. https://www.spatial.com/
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IMSI/Design TurboCAD 2017
Review by Ralph Grabowski One of the oldest surviving CAD programs in the world is spunky TurboCAD. CEO Bob Mayer and his staff last week showed me what's new in the 2017 edition, which is due to ship next month.
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One of the things about TurboCAD is that there are four editions, and I find it difficult telling the difference between them, because their names are not necessarily linked to their capabilities. In order of price, they are as follows:
Pro Platinum $1,500
Some of the new functions I write about are available in only certain editions.
What CAD users really want are better ways to do 2D drafting, and here TurboCAD 2017 adds niceties. The new centermarks and centerlines are associative, so when entities are updated, the marks and lines resize automatically.
Polylines now accept relative angles when we draw them. The properties of drawings can be populated with data, such as creation date, last modification date, and total editing time.
To do markups, TurboCAD now boasts intelligent scaling for text, dimensions, and hatches. The idea is that these should be readable at the current zoom level, so that there is no need for us to set text heights or scale factors.
A very cool new feature in TurboCAD 2017 is defining stairs by line work, which is especially useful for complex stairwells, such as ones with arc-shape landings. We draw three lines to specify the left and right edges, along with a center line, and then specify the order of steps. TurboCAD generates the stairs. The steps are parametric, so the rise and run can be easily changed.
The idea behind the House Wizard tool is to "push a button, and make a house." (See figure 1.) Well, it isn't quite there yet, but it is making progress. When we place balloon objects to define floor areas of rooms, and click Build House, then TurboCAD adds doors automatically, along with walls and slabs (floors). New in this release is using work planes to define multi-story structures (each work plane defines one story).
Figure 1 Screen grabs from TurboCAD's house wizard (all images sourced from IMSI/Design)
Sheet Metal in TurboCAD
It may come as a surprise to readers that TurboCAD does sheet metal. Now, I am no expert in this topic, and so I can't tell you what kind of a job it does, so I'll describe what's new.
The new Bend by Sketch function means that we can use a sketch to define how a sheet metal part bends. Better yet, when we edit the sketch, TurboCAD changes the sheet metal part.
Unbending gets expanded to report the angle at each bend on the flattened sheet metal. As well, partial unbends are available, meaning just one bend is flattened. TurboCAD can work backwards from a bend, or work forwards from a flat piece of sheet metal -- bending and flattening. It flattens one bend at a time -- good for showing the sequence, such as for the shop.
Gussets and stiffening ribs are added to TurboCAD. The program makes true gussets, deforming the material, while material is added to the sheet metal to make true ribs, and not just deform the material. (See figure 2.)
Figure 2 Variety of stiffening gussets added to sheet metal; blue line shows bend by sketch
TurboCAD 2017 defeatures sheet entities (ones with no thickness, like a face copied from a solid) so that it can remove all holes at once, instead of one by one.
Twisting, Stretching, and Bending
Twisting a 3D solid is hard to do with the usual 3D solid editing commands, and so the new Twist command torques them easily (thanks to ACIS). We use a line to specify the extent of the twist, so that just a portion of the part can be twisted, such as by 45 degrees in total. Extend the line, and the range of twisting extends. Between the twisted and non-twisted positions, we can specify a continuity of G1 or G2 (for metal parts), and G0 or G1 for plastic ones. (See figure 3.)
Figure 3 Twisting in TurboCAD V17
Stretching also uses lines to indicate the differential by which the solid should be stretched. Bends of solids even distorts holes appropriately when the bend line ends there. Bending also makes use G0-G2 continuity conditions.
The staff at IMSI/Design were inspired by Blender to add mesh objects a couple of releases ago. Meshes are extremely flexible 3D objects, letting us create any kind of organic shape. We'd keep using 3D solids for precisely designed models. TurboCAD reads about 20 file formats that are 3D, and so they see their smooth mesh commands allowing editing of these imported formats.
New in this release is the ability to convert mesh objects (which have no wall thickness) to a solid shell. Also new is adding faces to close gaps, and to merge multiple coplanar objects.
Three-D requires rendering, and so IMSI/Design added new effects that were made available through the RedSDK rendering engine. Architects will love the real sky that is generated accurately by date, time, and geolocation. The sun and moon are themselves light sources, and so we can specify all kinds of parameters for these celestial lights, should we want to. (See figure 4.)
Figure 4 Physical sky with starts, and moon casting shadow
Perhaps the coolest new effect is volumetric rendering that adds aerosol effects like fog, cloudy, and dust -- even colorized aerosols and variable ones, with greater or no volume. One example I saw was light streaming through a stained glass window and hitting dust made from an image. Probably useful for Dan Brown movies. (See figure 5.)
Figure 5 Volumetric rendering in TurboCAD V17
Integration with Mobile Apps
IMSI/Design was the first CAD vendor to move beyond simply viewing and markup apps for mobile devices. Their TurboSite app takes advantage of nearly all the sensors of an iPad to record locations, photos, videos, and written notes at sites. The company sees is as good for documenting as-builts.
The Turbo apps first used DWG at their native file format. But to handle all that location data, IMSI/Design made a new format, TAP, which as a package file combines DWG + GeoMarks + text + video + audio.
TurboCAD's native format is TCW (it also imports-exports DWG and about twenty more formats)), but now TurboCAD 2017 also reads TAP files so that we can playback videos, look at photos, and listen to the audio. In the next release, TAP files will round-trip: changes made on the desktop are reflected in the mobile version.
TurboApps use a cloud-based file conversion application to convert and import non-natively supported CAD and graphics file formats such as SKP, DGN, STEP and IGES.
Speaking of file formats, TurboCAD 2017 now supports KMZ and KML files used by Google Earth.