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Varimetrix 4.1

Varimetrix 4.1

Varimetrix (VX) comes in five integrated modules: Modeling, Drafting, Assembly, Translators, and CAM. VX has a very well-laid-out menu system that uses command and menu buttons with pull-down menus and icons. The Motif-based user-interface is highlighted by an easy-to-use Quick Pick cursor that anticipates several selection constraints automatically. For example, moving the cursor near arcs or circles will highlight their center and quadrant points. The Quick Pick can also be disabled, which is a nice feature.

Drafting. From a functionality standpoint, the Drafting module offers much of what is found in most 2-D CAD products, including a sketching function that allows parametric-type constraints to be added to profiles. The Modeling and CAM modules reside on top of these features. Because there is a shared database, each of the modules may be activated during a work session with the current file. All functions of the Modeling module are available in the CAM module, and all the Drafting module functions are available in the Modeling module.

A parametric features list/log keeps track of all activity, allowing the editing of design steps through the various modules. This list is edited and replayed for upward reconstruction of any model. Even CAM operations are automatically recalculated based on any Modeling or Sketcher edits.

File merging and instancing allow great flexibility in working with other parts or components. Merge brings the geometry completely into the existing file. Instance 2-D allows other files to be linked to the current file, while keeping the geometry only on the original file.

Performance. The integration of all modules via a shared database allows the product to react quickly to changes in design. Further integration of the database comes from the Layout menu, which automatically extracts 2-D planar snapshots of a solid for drafting purposes. Through the parametric list, changes in a profile, solid, or surface can also be reflected in the 2-D layout images and dimensions.

In the Drafting module, the operator can create a profile with parametric constraints assigned. This profile can then be used as the basis of a surface, solid, or model feature. Models may also be constructed from non-constrained profiles, primitives, and surfaces.

Assembly. VX Assembly provides a set of functions for modeling complex assemblies as a single database, or for distributing the design into any number of discrete components or sub-assemblies. Schematic representations of the assembly structure and bill-of-material generation are also offered. Analysis of the assembly is available for collisions, total mass, center of gravity, and moments of inertia. Associative layout drawings from an assembly can be automatically generated with the VX Drafting module.

The CAM module offers a very complete set of machining options, including visual tool verification. The only weakness is that turning operations are not supported. CAM's 3-axis plus indexing falls just shy of 5-axis machining. Of great importance to a machinist is the fact that the software is fully 'gouge-free' for any available tool. CAM may be performed on any wireframe, surface, or solid geometry created in VX, or on any model from other products.

Having the ability to combine surfaces as solid model boundaries makes VX one of the most robust solid and surface modelers I've found. Designing with its smart cursor is a welcome plus for any system. I think the product's powerful constraints, parametric list features, and automatic part and database recreation at a relatively low price are unparalleled.

A similar product:

Unigraphics - EDS/Unigraphics, 13736 Riverport Dr., Maryland Heights, MO 63043; ph: (314) 344-5900.

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