Oleg Zykov is the CEO of C3D Labs, the entity tasked with developing and marketing the C3D kernel in the face of giants, like Siemens' Parasolid and Dassault's ACIS, with just 20 employees. "It is difficult to be a new kernel in the world when there is Parasolid and others, so we update every 2-3 weeks," he told the COFES conference last week in Arizona, USA
Five years ago, C3D Labs (a division of ASCON Group) had just one customer, KOMPAS-3D. Today they have more than 20 customers in areas of MCAD, AEC, CAM, furniture design, and so on. Mr Zykov's aim is to gain three new customers a year; so far in 2017, he already has three new ones, he told me with a slight grin of satisfaction -- including two in the United States. I'll tell you later about why the two in the US are important. http://c3dlabs.com
C3D Labs licenses its C3D Toolkit with these four components, each one being optional:
3D solids and surfaces modeler with 2D geometry
2D and 3D parametric constraints solver
Neutral file converter
To counter the Parasolid-ACIS duopoly, C3D offers percentage royalties (rather than a fixed fee), integration of customer ideas, a rapid release cycle of 2-3 weeks, support direct from C3D programmers, and a free trial that lasts three months. The toolkit runs on all of today's desktop and mobile operating systems, with iOS coming soon.
At the COFES conference last week, C3D Labs showed us what's new and what's planned for the C3D toolkit.
Modeler. The 2D and 3D modeler gains these functions in 2017:
Removing holes from bodies
Modifying and removing fillets, step-by-step; see figure 1.
Figure 1 Fillets being removed by C3D Modeler (image source C3D Labs)
Direct modeling functions
Improved method of modifying radii (such as on fillets) along complex paths
Extruding contours to the nearest body
Extrude multiple contours, including intersections; see figure 2
Figure 2 Multiple contours being extruded
Extruding sketches to two surfaces with specified slopes, as well as matching the surface curvature
Creating twisted lofted bodies from a variety of cross sections; see figure 3
Figure 3 Variety of cross-sections defining a lofted body
Bend edges of complex boundaries of sheet metal
Produce single and multiple mid-surface shells for thin walled solids
Stop analysis when first collision is detected
Multi-threading of planar projection calculations, tesselation, mass properties, and model conversions
In a future release, C3D Labs plans to provide a new method for filleting faces, adding reinforcing ribs to sheet metal, and implementing a smoothness manager for NURBS surfaces.
C3D Labs offers a reduced-function version of the C3D Modeler for members of the Open Design Alliance. It is plug-compatible with the OdDb3DSolid API, meaning it can replace the other two solid modeling offerings from the ODA itself and ACIS from Spatial. It costs a fixed fee, starting at $1,000 per year, and is available to ODA members only. https://www.opendesign.com/
Converter. The translation module handles only neutral formats. See figure 4. C3D Labs has no intention of offering proprietary translations; if you need them, they suggest you contact DataKit.
Figure 4 File formats supported by C3D Converter
New in Converter 2017 is STEP AP242 with PMI [product manufacturing information], and JT v9.5 that combines boundary and polygon representations. In a future release, it will support LOD [levels of detail] and PMI import/export for JT; and extend support versions of X_T, SAT, and JT.
Vision. The rendering module is based on OpenGL, with lighting and materials, LOD, pixel culling, hardware acceleration, and more. C3D Labs plans to add text and dimensions, sections and textures, manipulators, and support for Vulcan, Linux, Mac OS, and C# wrappers. If you want more advanced rendering, C3D Labs recommends Redway3D. http://c3dlabs.com/en/products/vision/
C3D Labs now turned their Vision module into a standalone 3D file viewer. Right now it does just basic viewing functions, like zoom and rotate in several visual styles. It opens files from standard formats, like STEP and Parasolid, and saves images in raster formats.
It will be released in stages this year, with basic features in later this month (free), and most other functions by September (not free). For the future releases, C3D Labs plans to add all the functions of their Vision and Converter modules, and then add animation, and support for plug-ins and Linux and Mac OS. An ActiveX version with COM support will also be available.
How ASCON Group Works
ASCON Group is in my mind the most capitalist of Russian CAD vendors. The word "Group" is a deliberate addition to the name, as the company regularly spins off side projects in a capitalist-like do-or-die environment. Most have survived; some do not.
The core of ASCON Group is its KOMPAS-3D MCAD program, of which there are 80 thousand seats, excluding education, and primarily in Russia. This program reaches back to 1986, when a forerunner, KASCAD, was written as a 2D CAD program for use by the USSR defense industry.
With the end of Soviet Russia in 1989, private firms sprung up to take over the assets of government agencies. One of these new companies was ASCON, who redeveloped and renamed KASCAD as KOMPAS Graphic 2D. They attempted international sales in 1993 to China, but that initial foray did not work out. Nevertheless, the experience taught ASCON that MCAD needed to be 3D.
The first release of KOMPAS-3D in 2000 had no fillets, noted Max Bogdanov with a wry smile as he recounted his company's history during COFES 2017. He's the energetic CEO of ASCON Group. Today, the kernel that runs KOMPAS-3D is known as C3D. It was developed in parallel with KOMPAS-3D since 1995, but the company decided in 2012 to spin it off as a separate division -- and so we get C3D Labs. Another successful spin-off is Renga, the company's architectural software. It does 3D modeling, reinforced concrete design, and will soon handle structural steel design. It too was placed into a separate division, and then spun off into its own company, Renga Software, with the financial help of 1C, Russia's largest developer of business software. http://rengacad.com/en
Less lucky was Dexma, a browser-based PDM and PLM package for design firms of under 100 employees. Unhappily, it did did not find a place in the market, and shut down in 2014, with its technology folded back into ASCON's other software.
The Russian Dilemma
Earlier I mentioned the two USA clients C3D Labs landed. For any software company, the USA is the holy grail to which they all strive to succeed in. For Russian firms, the goal is elusive and it's not because of politics. Much Russian software had been written for the Soviet state, and to a certain extent the mentality carries on in privatized companies like the huge Rosneft oil, Gazprom gas, and Rosatom nuclear power concerns.
There is the twin-problem of written-in-Russia software using the Cyrillic alphabet and employing design standards unique to Russia. These aren't so easy to tear out. If a Russian software company manages to expand internationally, it's most likely to get sales from former Soviet-block countries and parts of Europe -- rarely the rest of the world.
Where Russian programmers have succeeded wildly is by doing contract programming for western CAD vendors, of course. But most Russian software stays firmly within the borders, which isn't such a bad thing, as non-English-speaking countries need software that is unique to local language and culture. Software designed in the conclaves of Silicon Valley or Boston's Route 128 doesn't always translate well in cultures with their own values and legislation.
Nevertheless, Russian firms like C3D Labs and nanoCAD have made their landing on the shores of America, and are working doggedly at making in-roads. If western CAD firms rely on Russian programmers, then maybe it's not so bad for Western design firms to rely on Russian software.
Aras adds Tony J. Affuso to its board of directors. Mr Affuso is better known as the former CEO of Siemens PLM Software and UGS.
Arcam spins off its EBM [Electron Beam Melting] business April 3 under the name of Arcam EBM and to be overseen by Karl Lindblom.
Arithmetica launches Pointfuse V2 with one-touch conversion of point clouds into 3D vector models with isolated discrete surfaces. http://www.arithmetica.com/
BIM World took place last week in Paris with the rather awkwardly-worded "breaking the innovation code of real estate industry and urban design" tagline. That BIM World tagline isn't any less awkward in Google French: "Briser le code de l'innovation de l'industrie immobilière et du design urbain," reports Randal Newton.
Bluesky is making maps of Ireland available for purchase at http://www.irelandmaps.ie, accurate to 12.5cm in urban areas. In other news, Bluesky says this "photograph" was created by aerial laser maps recorded at a high accuracy
EDEM releases its new material simulation software that combines FEA and multi-body dynamics for heavy equipment design. http://www.edemsimulation.com
Engineering recruitment firm Modis says Detroit is the best city for CAD designers. House prices are low, I understand. Seriously, it's because of the car industry. "Michigan has seven of the top 10 most concentrated areas for CAD designers in the country," they say. http://blog.modis.com/engineering/top-10-us-cities-cad-designers/
Graebert is targeting specific countries, first India then Japan, for its ARES sales push. www.graebert.com
Invicara releases BIM Assure 1.2 for BIM data validation and faster reporting -- plus access for users without BIM. http://bimassure.com
It's 2017, but Apple's brand new iPad has a mere 2GB of operating RAM, according to iFixit.
Lantek opens its office in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The image attached to press release is, I suspect, not the building that's housing the new office.
numares is deploying its Magnetic Group Signaling tech at Oxford to speed R&D of a non-invasive MS diagnostic test. http://www.numares.com
Siemens funded Frustum's development, and now its topology optimization tech is being integrated into NX. See https://www.frustum.com. In other Siemens news, the CAD firm is providing Connecticut State Colleges and Universities with an in-kind grant of NX worth $315 million.
Vectorworks is opening registration to its annual Vectorworks Design Summit, this year in the CAD firm's hometown of Baltimore, Sept 18-20. To get discounts on attending (like 2 fer 1) and the hotel cheaper, register with Vectorworks by end April at http://www.vectorworks.net/design-summit
Letters to the Editor
Re: AR and IoT Coming to Creo 4.0
"VR is for games, but AR is for engineers." I've been hearing about medium to large architecture firms adopting VR enthusiastically, especially in-house, but I guess architecture is a bit of a game. -Arnold Rowntree Otway Drafting
The editor replies: I think what is meant by the statement is that AR is more useful, as it overlays CAD information onto the real-world environment.
- - -
So basically, Augmented Reality is an awkward workaround for emailing someone a link? Like, instead of sending them an email with a link to your model, you send them an email with a picture attached, which they then print out on paper, and then take a picture of, which they then run through an app, which then gives them a link to the model?
What's next? Maybe we can email a DXF file, which they can run through their NC programming software, and machine a chunk of aluminum with a barcode, which they can then take to a laser digitizer, which will convert the barcode to a hyperlink, which you can print out on to vellum, and then photograph, so your iPhone can open the model?
This and the IoT thing, where I can use my CAD system for data acquisition, greatly reinforce my belief that mechanical CAD is mature and is becoming a commodity. If this is the stuff that passes for innovation in then they are pretty much out of things to do. - Jess Davis Davis Precision Design
PS: Please disregard my rant. I can't believe you suckered me in on an April Fool's Day article. But in my defense, it's the third.
The editor replies: You pretty much nailed it on the head. How practical their implementation of AR wil be seen once users implement the update to Creo.
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