The courtship between 3-D CAD systems and simulation software turned a bit more serious this week as ANSYS, a leader in the analysis arena, inked a licensing deal with SpaceClaim to offer its CAD package as an option within the ANSYS Simulation Driven Product Development platform.
The new ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler, which will work with either the ANSYS 11.0 or 12.0 releases, as well as with ANSYS Workbench 2.0, is based on SpaceClaim Engineer. A relative newcomer to the CAD world, SpaceClaim is trying to carve out a niche as a CAD-neutral, 3-D direct modeler designed for non-CAD experts. The pairing of the two products will allow engineers to create and model 3-D geometry models and push analysis tasks up much earlier in the design process. Traditionally, ANSYS users would have to wait until they had detailed 3-D data from the CAD system to do their validation and verification work, but with the SpaceClaim option, they can now verify and validate designs upfront, accelerating time-to-market, explains Scott Gilmore, director of management at ANSYS.
Typically, engineers will save CAD models in the neutral STEP or IGES formats to do simulation work, sacrificing intelligence for the flexibility of working with a dumb model. While that step lets them validate designs, it doesn't let them optimize work in process - a best practice that can greatly reduce development time and ensure optimal results, Gilmore says. Because SpaceClaim employs a direct modeling approach, CAD models imported into the system aren't constrained by the history-based parameters that can sometimes get in the way of effective simulation work. "SpaceClaim lets engineers attach intelligence to the model (during analysis) so they can experiment with the effects of changing that model," he adds.
New model preparation features added in the SpaceClaim 2009 release help detect and repair problems with imported designs and simplify models, making them better suited for analysis than detailed 3-D models - a key reason ANSYS choose SpaceClaim as its OEM partner, according to Gilmore. "The focus of traditional CAD systems is on detailed design and manufacturing and they're not approachable by the typical engineer doing simulation to optimize product design," he explains.
The price of ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler ranges from approximately $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the type of license.