The Business of CAD
Issue #809 | March 4, 2014
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In This Issue
1. About Version 15 of the C3D Kernel
Exclusive coverage of a brand-new kernel that's 19 years young
2. Upcoming Events for upFront.eZine
Soon, we'll be in Round Rock, Austin, Tokyo, and Scottsdale
3. Heard on Twitter and on the Blog
As the economy recovers, Autodesk revenues fall
4. Letters to the Editor
Readers print us their thoughts about The End of Print
About Version 15 of the C3D Kernel
ASCON is Russia's largest CAD vendor, and C3D Labs is their year-old subsidiary formed to license the C3D kernel. Staff last week held Webinars to tell the media and others about its progress and future plans. As reflected by the name, C3D consists of three components: a geometric kernel, a parametric solver, and a translator:
It runs on Windows and Linux; development is done with Visual Studio.
After one year, C3D Labs has a staff of 15, and ten corporate customers. The most recent release added 50 modeling functions, sped up the solver 10x, and sped up the converter 30x. This is reasonably impressive, as a year ago they had just one customer, parent company ASCON. ASCON uses it for its own CAD software, naturally, as well as for the Android version of its software.
Some software firms using C3D include LO CNITI and Rubius (Extra CAD for Esprit), LEDAS (Geometry Comparison), BASIS Center (BAZIS furniture design), Center GeoS (K3 furniture design), and most significantly NTP Truboprovod (PASSAT vessel design, used by default all across Russia). In addition, three universities are teaching in Russia how to use C3D.
"Now that we have enough customers," said Oleg Zykov, "We have an online service desk at sd.ascon.ru. We upload a new version of the kernel every two weeks, available to customers through our FTP server" at c3d.sd.ascon.ru. Online documentation is available in English and Russian at c3d.ru/doc/math/modules.html.
"Theory" is the name of the book that describes how C3D works. (See figure 1.) Currently it is in Russian only, but an English version will be available later in the summer.
Figure 1: Pages from the 'Theory' book describing the C3D geometric kernel in detail
Here is what C3D Labs offers potential customers:
C3D Labs will soon have their own site at c3dlabs.com. In the meantime, they can be contacted through email@example.com.
What's New in C3D V15
Even though C3D Labs is just a year old, the C3D kernel has more nearly two decades of development as a proprietary kernel in ASCON's KOMPAS-3D MCAD software. Hence the new version is numbered "V15." Here are some of the functions newly added to C3D:
C3D V15 Geometry
Swept builds solid objects from several planar and non-planar contours
Fillets can now be stopped at an arbitrary point along an edge, ie, partial fillets length-wise. Where the fillet ends can also be filleted to the edge.
In addition, fillets can be trimmed by a face; fillets can keep bosses and holes, so that intersecting extrusions are untouched by the fillet.
Boolean operations let you control how co-planar faces are merged. In addition, C3D is faster when applying Boolean operations to arrays of solids.
Shells can been made from arbitrary borders in a significantly simplified manner.
Holes can have tails (extended holes, like partial countersinks) whose shape you specify.
Sheet metal made from two sketches can be unfolded.
Triangulation of narrow faces is improved.
C3D V15 Solver
Constarints can be added to any geometry in the model, such as points, lines, cylinders, and so on. (Previously, they worked only with solids.)
3D Solver operates significantly faster.
2D Solver handles more cases:
- parts of curves between bounding points
- align points in specific directions
- percentage of the length of a curve
- linear dimensions between two circles and between circle-linear objects
- transformations like displacement, rotation, and scaling
C3D V15 Converter
STEP translator now exports and imports attributes and annotation, such as dimensions, text, and auxiliary geometry.
Also, the STEP translator is up to 30x faster at importing large 1GB files with many surfaces.
What Ralph Grabowski Thinks
From my trip to Russia some years ago, I learned that Russian CAD vendors hoped to entice Western markets with low prices. Problem is that the Internet lets anyone drop prices, and so that competitive advantage is gone. I think that they should emphasize quality over price; but even so, this would not overcome the issues of mindshare and visibility. When a Western CAD vendor thinks of CAD programming, they think of Russia automatically (it has mindshare); when Western CAD vendors think kernels, they do not think of Russia. And so it is up to publications like upFront.eZine to assist with visibility.
Since I wrote this article last week, the Russia-Ukraine-Europe conflict has worsened, with the first boycotts being announced surrounding the para olympics. In my opinion, let the politicians rattle their sabers, verbal or real; let us, the other 99%, continue to treat each other as worthy human beings.
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Upcoming Events for upFront.eZine
I'm planning to be at several events in the next two months, sporting the company name of either upFront.eZine or Tenlinks CADdigest.com on my badge:
If you'd like to get together during these events, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
And One More Thing...
In a first for ZWsoft, the Guangzhou, China company reported on the financial picture of its ZW3D unit, even if only vaguely reporting near-meaningless percentages.
"Revenue of high-end, mature markets, like Germany, Japan and France among others, has increased by over 40%. Meanwhile, the growth of ZW3D's emerging mid-market, such as Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand and Mexico etc., has surged 70%. Of particular interest has been the success in Chinese market, witnessing a compound growth rate of 100%."
The company notes that 80% of its customers upgraded during 2013. The number of its dealers and distributors grew 35% last year. http://www.zwsoft.com/ZW3D/
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Heard on Twitter and On the Blog
upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine): Here's why ADSK didn't talk about FY revenues in its press release: annual revenues fell $38 million from a year ago.
upFront.eZine: How Autodesk plans to grow 12%/yr: extract 20% more revenue from every customer, get 50% more customers on subscriptions, and cut more costs
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upFront.eZine: MPAA wants US government to erect trade barriers against electronic transmissions across US borders -> http://pando.com/2014/02/25/revenge-of-the-nerds-how-tech-geeks-found-a-secret-weapon-in-their-fight-against-big-hollywood/
upFront.eZine: MPAA reasoning: electronic transmissions contain files for copyright-breaking products, such as 3D printer files of movie characters.
Mike Burke (@kiwifrenzy): Read this about NZ Customs wanting to restrict access to files that allow you to print 3D guns. http://dlvr.it/51hhkG
Mike Burke: They won't be able to stop it with a law of course. But this is only the start, other restrictions would be added as well.
Mike Burke: I think they will end up calling for a ban on 3D printers for public use outright, Still won't stop people though.
upFront.eZine: Remarkably, NZ Customs thinks we can 3D-print gold -- from lead?
Mike Burke: No, out of thin air. ;-) Proves Govt agencies have no clue. There was a good follow up to that article http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9773172/No-smoking-gun-with-3-D-printers-experts-say
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upFront.eZine: AVG kills its cloud service: "Please be sure to back up all of your LiveKive files before this date." Wait! I thot the cloud was the backup
upFront.eZine: "One reason employees become disengaged is when leadership breaks the psychological contract." -> http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/03/02/disengaged-employees-really-thinking/
upFront.eZine: When world leaders and parroting news readers talk of the "international community," remember that there is no International Community.
On the Blog
Here are items that appeared on the WorldCAD Access blog recently at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
Letters to the Editor
Re: The End of Print
"I am brand new to CAD, having last year purchased Bricscad V13. I didn't even bother looking for anything else after I saw your ebook, and I certainly didn't bother trying to find another way to get hold of it for free: I thought $20 was great value for money. It is a great book for the complete beginner in CAD, as I am. I am up to Chapter 4 and really enjoying it.
"I'm sad that things have gone the way they have, but I can equally see it happening around me. As the CEO of our little company, I know that everything is correct, everything is licensed, and everything is properly paid for. We like to do it that way. Kind regards and best wishes for the future."
- Peter Selwyn, ceo
Navicom Dynamics, New Zealand
"Thank you so much for your great contribution to the CAD world. As the books (printed and ebooks) lose ground as being a source of income, videos are gaining popularity as you experience yourself. I am happy to see that you jumped onto the video tutorial bandwagon. Perhaps you create you own YouTube channel. Your insight and tutoring is appreciated by so many of our users."
- Heinz Baumann, senior manager engineering
IPG Global Engineering, Autodesk
"Sorry to hear your book-writing is a dying art. I've seen it in other avenues, too. For example, my sister designed hats, until Asians bought a few and made knock-offs at about 1/10 the price. She quit making hats and went into making lady's evening dresses. That carried her for about 10 years and then the same thing happened. Now, she's outta work after 30 years of designing and making. One of the thing that killed her business was the rent in down-town NYC: over $8,000/moth."
"I'm an author and co-author of almost 50 books, mainly AutoCAD and 3ds Max, written for a Portuguese publisher (none as ebooks), and two books written in English for an international publisher (these have ebook versions). We non-English authors have some local advantages, as many readers are not fluent in English.
"I share some of your concerns. In last years, revenue coming from books dropped to less than half due to the southern Europe financial crisis. I believe that YouTube videos cannot replace a good book. They are good for showing some particular aspects, but not a complete course.
"Another aspect you did not mention has to do with Autodesk policies. The last [several] AutoCAD versions had few real improvements in productivity. Together with high prices for purchasing or subscription/upgrades (and upgrades being dropped soon), lead to many clients to maintain current versions. If there are no real improvements, individuals also don't need to buy updated books.
"Cheers and keep up the excellent work."
- Joao Santos, manager
The editor replies: "I agree with you in both cases. I cannot see how to make an income from YouTube videos, and Autodesk increased cost structure is facing resistance from customers."
"Autodesk's yearly software updates can't be helping the quality of the books either, causing authors to concentrate on new features and updated screen shots, rather than strengthening the presentation. In my opinion, computer books in general are horrible from a teaching point of view. The authors seem to dive off in to the exceptions before they even present the subject.
"And Autodesk books are the worst: They have to be read in an iterative fashion -- read it, don't really hope to understand it, try it, read it again. So maybe young people don't read, but there is a problem on the supply side too. Computer books aiming to teach software programs should study college textbooks, especially math books. Define terms before you use them. Don't use so many wordy paragraphs. Summarize."
- Terry Priest
The editor replies: "When Autodesk went to yearly releases, it was a financial boon to authors like myself, getting that boost in royalty payments annualy instead of tri-annually. We lived through years of fat, and now have years of lean."
"I just read your piece about the end of printing (and how it affects you personally). Excellent information and insights (as usual). But what I most appreciate is the brief comment about your volunteer work. While you have never been overt or brazen, you have often over the years inserted casual, personal, and winsome comments that would lead someone to consider and evaluate their prioritie.
"I commend you on both your personal commitment and transparency as well as the skill with which you communicate. You continue to be an inspiration to me and an encouragement to be more open and proactive in my own communication into the engineering community in which I spend the majority of my waking hours."
- L. Harold Chaney, manager of engineering systems and standards
Columbus McKinnon, USA
"Sorry to hear about decline in printed page, and even your e-books. I guess you are right, the trend it toward lazy video watching. Thanks for the well written articles."
The editor replies: "This is one side effect of choice: a regression to the least effort."
Re: Heard on Twitter and On the Blog
"I would like to offer some clarification to today's eZine, where you refer to the '$286-million Delcam acquisition being the most expensive ever'. The deal is the most expensive in the CAM industry, but not the most expensive by Autodesk. I believe Autodesk's acquisition of Discreet was at a significantly higher price.
"Also, I assume that the slides to which you are referring are the ones that I sent you. Since Delcam is a wholly-owned but independently-operated subsidiary of Autodesk, the slides should have been called 'Delcam slides' not 'Autodesk slides'. I know I'm biased but I think the slides contained enough information to show that there are more important considerations in this acquisition than the annual revenue multiplier, not least the rate of annual revenue growth."
- Peter Dickin, marketing manager
The editor replies: "In the context, I think that it was understood to be the most expensive CAM acquisition. As for the slides, each one was prominently labelled with the Autodesk name and logo."
Re: Autodesk Core 1.0
"CAM applications have used variants of cellular modeling technologies (voxels, dexels) to do volumetric simulation of the machining process since the cellular approach was way more computationally efficient than one based on a B-Rep approach
"Your readers might want to check out MachineWorks Polygonica (http://machineworks.com/polygonica), a modeling technology that is the core of MachineWorks' process and machine simulation. It has been under continuous development for the past 20 years. They recently introduced it as a stand-alone technology. This is another modeling technology that is extremely suitable for reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, and 3D printing.
"Keep up the great reporting!"
- John Callen, director
"Intel finally seems cognizant of where the computing industry is going, and looks prepared to unleash its famous combination of paranoia, hard-line sales tactics, and near-oppressive marketing."
- Ashlee Vance, BusinessWeek
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Entire contents copyright 2014 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. 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.