This is great. I do have long experience with CAD systems, but we never did any formal reuse. The software engineering world has been struggling with exactly the same issues since the 1980s. Reuse is now extensive in software, but it generally comes in the form of APIs and templates. When you hear that a system has 10M lines of code, that is NOT 10M lines written by the development team. That includes all the standard classes provided by the environment.
One issue, with software and with 3D parts, is that you develop an item in response to a requirement. While it is helpful to have a starting point, you need to be sure that you do not leave structure in that is part of the legacy and not useful in the new part.
@Naperlou: I agree there is a balance between the productivity gains and utility of reuse vs. needing to design toward the specific requirement in mind. I think having technology that facilitates searching out past work and like work products only gives engineers a better starting point and helps perserve intellectual capital that definitely shouldn't be wasted.
I think this makes a lot of sense. Design reuse is an ongoing theme in electronics and other design industries, whether it's way under the hood inside a chip, or in subsystems or in code blocks. Now it's in 3D shapes. Kudos to Fujitsu.
The EDA industry has been making efficient use of design rules check (DRC) that is pattern-recognition based (as opposed to the earlier generations of text based comparisons) when checking chip layouts. The same approach can be used to re-use parts based on a higher percentage of pattern matching (greater than 70% for example?) to re-use previous designs.
3D searching will be very useful, but the 3D modeler software companies themselves are hampering the goal of wider 3D part reuse.
ALL of those companies want their customers on a subscription plan to maintain their own revenue stream, so each year, the 3D companies roll out a new version. Files created in the newer version are not backwards compatible with older software, nor can you "save down" with most of them.
While they do permit saving parts in a transfer file format (STEP, or IGS, or any number of others), doing so loses the strength of the native 3D format (the parts become dumb).
So how will a company (or many of them) keep the library fresh? Will this mean good things for employment of low-wage drafters that will freshen the library each year?
Design reuse is an ongoing theme and really takes time to mature. This was a really big deal several years ago when I designed FPGAs. It took some time but the company I worked for was really learning to make good use of the concept, which saved them time and money.
@TJ: You have so aptly keyed in on one of the on-going pain points around CAD deployment and an obvious impediment to reuse, especially for older CAD files. I do think that some of the interoperability issuess are being mitigated because the CAD vendors are finally getting the message that vendor lock-in doesn't fly in today's heterogeneous world. Also, new paradigms like cloud computing are also changing the game, especially on how licensing works. And let's not forget about the work being done with open standards like JT Open, among others.
FPGAs and software IP blocks in EDA were what I had in mind regarding design reuse in electronics. I agree with gsmith120, though: it takes a lot of time and investment in the future, which some companies are not willing to do. And the issues also sound similar: interoperability and vendor lock-in.
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