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Autodesk Takes Flight with FEA Functionality

Autodesk Takes Flight with FEA Functionality

Joining in its competitors' push to make sophisticated finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities part of the 3D CAD equation, Autodesk Inc. has acquired a small simulation software firm and plans to integrate its technology into its Inventor platform.

The Calabasas, CA-based PlassoTech, which Autodesk acquired for an undisclosed amount, brings more sophisticated FEA functionality to the Inventor product line. Inventor currently has FEA capabilities, but they are limited to working with individual parts. The PlassoTech technology augments Inventor's core FEA functions with the ability to perform analyses on entire assemblies, as well as covering FEA calculations in the areas of linear static stress, steady state thermal, thermal stress modal and frequency analysis, optimization and buckling. The technology also has more advanced capabilities for testing dynamic stress, transient thermal and large deformation analysis of solid and shell models.

Having a broad range of FEA capabilities as part of your 3D CAD platform is becoming a best-in-class requirement for companies looking to leverage 3D to save time and money developing products, according to Amy Bunszel, Autodesk's director of the Inventor product line. "This acquisition adds depth to our simulation solution," Bunszel says.

Specifically, the simulation functionality adds to Autodesk's digital prototyping story. Like CAD competitors Dassault Systemes, UGS PLM Software and SolidWorks Inc., Autodesk is aiming to provide tools that allow companies to prototype early product designs in a digital world versus having to build physical models. "You need to do all kinds of simulation to test designs before you build anything," Bunszel says. "Physical prototypes cost a lot of money and it's a fairly iterative process that takes a longer period of time. By doing the same process on the computer, you can test things in a matter of moments, which helps companies better manage their schedules and costs."

Autodesk has done similar acquisitions to add other types of functionality to the Inventor platform. The company acquired Linius Technologies and VIA Development in 2003 to garner its respective wire harness and cabling capabilities and its AutoCAD electrical modules. Bunszel says it is not yet clear whether the PlassoTech technology will be offered as an integrated component of Inventor or as a separate module. She gave no timing for the release of the new capabilities.

The PlassoTech technology brings FEA capabilities for entire assemblies to the Inventor product line.
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