Mechatronics product development is a big buzzword within
many engineering circles. At IBM, there's a whole lot of talk (along with a
smattering of television commercials) about what's involved in engineering
smarter products. Regardless of how you classify this new generation of
products, there's no doubt that software is an essential ingredient, and IBM's Rational Software
division has extended its portfolio in three areas to create a richer
environment for developing and managing these new types of software-focused,
In the enhancements, the IBM division is aiming to boost the
agility of companies to innovate by delivering a set of tools that help
establish governance around requirements, foster collaboration among globally-dispersed
teams and create an enterprise architecture view of system interdependencies,
according to Greg Sikes, IBM Rational's director of enterprise architecture and
systems modeling. "You don't have to look far even around your house to see
what's happening," Sikes says. "It used to be that innovation came from pure
mechanical advances like smaller or lighter components - now we're seeing
innovation come more through software."
To that end, Rational is offering a new version of its System
Architect that is integrated with Rational Focal Point, a solution that
provides analysis and decision support capabilities to help organizations
execute the right projects at the right time. The upgraded DOORS
Web Access V1.3 requirements management tool has been redesigned with a
lightweight browser interface, allowing participants located anywhere in the
world to sit in and collaborate on requirements planning sessions. The new
version also allows more users to concurrently access up-to-date requirements,
while enabling teams to easily create traceability links to track and view
Finally, Rational Software's Rhapsody visual
development environment has been enhanced with improved integration with the
rest of the Rational software portfolio along with support for automotive
industry standards through AUTOSAR concept-to-code workflow.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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