3D Modeling Debate Spurs New Generation of CAD Tools: Page 2 of 4

to the market in April 2007
with the fourth
announced last month. The CAD upstart was predicated on taking
advantage of inexpensive PC hardware to unleash a new type of CAD tool that
would have appeal for the enormous untapped pool of designers and engineers for
whom traditional parametric-based tools were overload. "We see direct modeling
as the vehicle to break out of the glass ceiling of 1 million seats of solid
modelers sold and to get an order of magnitude of new growth in the market," says
Blake Courter, co-founder of SpaceClaim.

SpaceClaim Engineer doesn't attempt to unseat traditional
CAD tools, but rather appeal to engineers and designers upstream in the process
who are not traditional users of CAD. In addition, the software - which officials
are quick to point out requires minimal training - is positioned as an adjunct
tool within an engineering organization, optimized for quick conceptualization
of new designs or for preparing CAD models for analysis, according to Chris
Randall, SpaceClaim CEO. "This is 3-D modeling for engineers as opposed to 3-D
modeling for CAD jocks," he says.

PTC also views the market for direct modelers and parametric
CAD tools as mostly a separate audience. The company's flagship program,
Pro/ENGINEER, is ideal for the majority of instances when products are complex
and highly engineered, for example, or when the capture of engineering
constraints and relationships is critical to the success of the design - especially
if the product strategy is family-based or platform-driven. Yet even PTC, which
invented parametric, recognizes the door is open for a different approach. Last
year, PTC acquired
, one of the oldest and more successful direct modelers, along with
, and the company believes there is ample opportunity to grow the
explicit modeling category far beyond where it stands today.

While PTC doesn't rule out the possibility of eventually
bringing the two technologies together, for now, the company believes the two
modeling approaches appeal to distinct needs and audiences, thus are best
addressed as separate products. Engineers should choose between the two disciplines
based on the types of products they create, the time to market forces that
drive them and the types of processes that define their workflow. "If you try
to put two fundamentally different technologies together, it's somewhat of a
risk that you'll end up with the worst of both rather than the best of both," says
Justin Teague, PTC's senior vice president of CoCreate sales. "If you put too
much constraining technology in explicit, you might lose some of the
flexibility, whereas if you add too much freedom to parametric, you don't
really get the big bang for the buck that you're looking for out of that

Even so, PTC has been adding direct modeling capabilities to
Pro/ENGINEER, as well as sprinkling in parametric-like functionality into CoCreate.
Most of the major CAD vendors, including SolidWorks
and Dassault Systemes are doing a lot of the
same cross-pollination, adding direct modeling functionality to their existing
history-based products.

All Together Now

In fact, two of the biggest 3-D

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