Windows on the design world
CAD companies whose products are based on Windows were out in force at Autofact '95, and drew some of the largest crowds at the show. Case in point: SolidWorks exhibited its maiden product, SolidWorks™ 95, a new solid-modeling mechanical-design system written for a native Windows environment. It incorporates EDS's Parasolid kernal. The company calls the product a production-level, fully functional solid-modeling system at an affordable price--$3,995. SolidWorks reported getting more than 600 leads the first day. ...Meanwhile, Intergraph, which did not have its own booth at the show, demonstrated its Windows-based SolidEdge product at a special press conference away from the show ...Among the participants was Ansys, which talked about its OLE-enabled solutions that SolidEdge users can tap ...Bentley Systems announced that six products are combining with MicroStation Modeler™ II to create what they claim is the industry's first integrated, solid-based design and analysis environment, at a desktop price.
On the desktop
Autodesk used the show to hype its Mechanical Desktop software, which incorporates AutoCAD Release 13, AutoCAD Designer, and AutoSURF. Scheduled to ship in early 1996, the product enables parametric solid and surface modeling, assembly modeling, and associative drafting. Retail price: $6,250. ...Microcadam showed off the power of its Micro Cadam Helix solid modeler, based on Designbase from Ricoh Co. Helix, among other capabilities, can create complex sketches without fully constraining them, and add in constraints later. ...Exa Corp. demonstrated the fluid-flow analysis capabilities of its FluidCAD products, which the company is targeting toward the aerospace and automotive industries. The technology is based on what the company calls digital physics, and among potential reported applications are acoustics, HVAC, under-the-hood aerodynamics, and exhaust systems, among others. The user defines a wind tunnel, and the software cuts the space into 'voxels,' each representing a macromolecule, and attaches properties to them. ....The MacNeal-Schwendler Corp. demonstrated its products at eight partner booths. Among those products: MSC/NASTRAN for Windows, which includes optional packages for non-linear analysis, dynamic analysis, and CAD import.
Rapid advances in prototyping
Rapid-prototyping vendors were in force at this year's Autofact. 3D Systems unveiled new Multi-Jet Modeling technology for desktop prototyping. Users can generate an STL file, select the part they want to build, scale it, determine the number of copies they want, and the machine does the rest. The company holds several patents for the technology. The print head can fire 96 jets simultaneously. Ease of use was key to the technology's design, the company says. ...Meanwhile, DTM demonstrated the Sinterstation 2000 System, which the company claims can build a mold geometry in 15 hours. That geometry is a 'green part' that the user immerses in a solution that adds an additional polymer coating. Next stop is a high-temperature furnace. Eventually, the result is a fully dense part made of 60% steel and 40% copper. ...AC Technology demonstrated C-Mold QuickFill, a molding simulation package for plastic part design. ...And Cyco International showed off its AM WorkFlow product for managing drawings, spreadsheets, memos, engineering change orders, scanned images, and related data. The company says it has the only product that manages AutoCAD, Cadkey, and Microstation files, and will be managing files from SolidWorks. ...Alias/- Wavefront introduced 3-D painting technology into its StudioPaint™ conceptual design and paint software. The new package, StudioPaint 3D™, enables users without previous 3-D experience to paint and sketch precise textures and surface details directly onto 3-D models using real-time digital brushes. ...In the Calcomp booth, the E-size TechJET 175i printer was producing full-color graphics at 360 x 360 dpi. Special InkPacs allow the unit to print a complete roll of 36-inch-wide media without depleting any one color of ink. ...And, Fakespace showed off its PUSH™ desktop display which lets users navigate in large virtual environments, or look closely at individual virtual objects from different viewpoints, all while seated at a desk or worktable. The cost: $45,000.