CAD Tech News (#112)

2 Oct, 2019 By: Cadalyst Staff

nTopology Advocates Repeatable 'Recipes' Instead of One-Off Part Creation — Part 1

Offering more than modeling and analysis, the nTop Platform is also an authoring environment for repeatable engineering workflows — because 'nobody should have to do things twice.'

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Will generative design technology continue to shake up workflows and markets? If the investment dollars flying around are any indication, many people are betting that it will. One recent example is the purchase of Frustum, which was snapped up by PTC last year for $70 million.

Another is nTopology: The launch of its nTop Platform in July was closely followed by the announcement that the four-year-old startup had raised another $20 million, boosting its total funding to $31 million. In other votes of confidence, Carl Bass (familiar to many Cadalyst readers as the former CEO of Autodesk) joined nTopology's board this year, and the company is adding such big names as Lockheed Martin, Daimler, Disney, and the U.S. Department of Defense to its list of customers.

So yes, generative design is garnering a lot of attention at the moment — but it's not something exclusive, in the perspective of Bradley Rothenberg, cofounder and CEO of nTopology. "I think of all design as generative at [its] heart," he told Cadalyst. "You're making a design from something that didn't exist, or you're making a new design to replace an old part, and that's the definition of generative."

As Rothenberg sees it, what really differentiates nTopology's nTop Platform is not its generative design capabilities, but its ability to set up repeatable engineering workflows. "Normally when you model a part, you're clicking and drawing that part, and your interface with [it] is creating one part," Rothenberg explained. "In our software, you're really creating a process that can create multiple parts, or can iterate through a design process." (This can be likened to creating a recipe rather than just a lone pie.)

Various stages from the workflow for a rocket nozzle design. Image source: nTopology.
Various stages from the workflow for a rocket nozzle design. Image source: nTopology.

There is an essential requirement for reusing components in this way, Rothenberg explained: "The only way you can do that is if your underlying model never breaks … the model has to be reliable enough to update and work [whenever changes are made]." Traditional models break "very easily," he said, such as when referenced edges disappear; nTop models reportedly never fail or stall, regardless of file size or model complexity. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

'Revolution In Simulation' Initiative Builds a Community Dedicated to Democratization

Experts, non-experts, companies, associations, and volunteers are coming together to create a public resource portal that supports advanced simulation across product development teams.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Democratization is a word that's often used casually in the design technology world — in discussing a product that's offered at a lower price than in the past, or one that's simpler to operate than its predecessor. Malcolm Panthaki, however, has a vision for democratization that goes far beyond "cheaper and easier." Panthaki is the cofounder and managing director of Revolution In Simulation, an initiative and online portal dedicated to making advanced simulation safely accessible to everyone who needs it — including designers, junior engineers, and even salespeople. As the Revolution in Simulation site states, "Democratized Simulation makes analysis more powerful and capable for CAE [computer-aided engineering] experts while accessible, safe, and reliable for non-experts."

Equipping more team members with the power of simulation is essential in the current high-speed product development environment, Panthaki believes. When non-experts can effectively analyze designs, the product iteration cycle can move more quickly, and more iterations can be evaluated, he explained.

The Revolution In Simulation team is careful to explain, however, that this initiative is not seeking to eliminate the role of simulation experts. "We're in no way diminishing the role of those experts," stressed Robert Farrell, Jr., founder of Farrell MarCom Services and a member of the Revolution in Simulation Executive Operating Committee. Panthaki concurred: "These experts are absolutely critical to the process and ... they continue to be essential." And while some experts surely feel threatened by democratization efforts, "the ones that truly are comfortable in their expertise jump on this [initiative] as an opportunity to truly shine," Panthaki continued. "They feel this really leverages simulation better within their organizations." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

SOLIDWORKS 2020 Emphasizes End-to-End Product Development Ecosystem

This time around, the annual update to the portfolio of 3D design and engineering applications boasts seamless movement of products from early design to delivery.

By Cadalyst Staff

Dassault Systèmes introduced the latest release of SOLIDWORKS 2020 today, heralding new features and capabilities added to the portfolio of 3D design and engineering applications. A primary point of focus for this year's release is helping users extend their design-to-manufacturing ecosystem from the desktop to the cloud courtesy of seamless connection to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform — "a cloud-based environment that connects your product development process from design through manufacturing and delivery." Dassault Systèmes has been connecting new and existing applications to the platform for years now, with a goal of providing a single source of truth throughout the complete product lifecycle.

The improved connectivity between 3DEXPERIENCE platform and SOLIDWORKS is not to be confused with 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS, which Dassault Systèmes announced in February. Intended to address the needs of SOLIDWORKS customers and small and midsized companies, 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS is a subset of applications for collaboration, design, simulation, and manufacturing enterprise resource planning [ERP] on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Solutions including 3D Sculptor, which includes the xShape (subdivision modeling) application, 3D Creator featuring the xDesign (parametric modeling) application, 3D Component Designer (data management), Project Planner, and Structural Professional Engineer (advanced simulation) will be part of the 3DEXPERIENCE.WORKS portfolio.

Digital Continuity

"It's all about digitalization and integration through a connected 3DEXPERIENCE platform, to drive faster innovation while reducing the risk of failure," said CEO Gian Paolo Bassi during the company's online launch event. He explained that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform will deliver "a connected design-to-manufacturing ecosystem helping you manage every aspect of developing and delivering products, from ideation into the hands of your customers." Bassi reported that this focus was guided by user requests: "Over this past year, you have told us you want full digital continuity — a seamless process that takes you from design to manufacturing faster than ever." Read more »


Sponsored: Cloud Engineering Software — More Than Engineering Software on the Cloud
From Siemens PLM: Cloud software applications can simply replace on-premises infrastructure, or they can add more value by leveraging special cloud computing characteristics to deliver previously difficult — or impossible — solutions. Read more »

Sponsored: Apex Structural Design Creates Spectacular Suspension Bridge with Tekla Structures Software
From Trimble: Winner of the 2019 Tekla BIM Award for Small Projects, the Whistler Skybridge is a vertigo-inducing pedestrian path made possible by accurate design — and a helicopter. Read more »

ThingWorx 8.5 Simplifies Multi-Site Deployment of IIoT Solutions
Latest version of PTC's industrial IoT (IIoT) platform also features tighter integration with Microsoft Azure cloud computing services. Read more »

Construction Stakeholders Are Suffering from Project Data Disconnect, Study Finds
Surveys of project owners and contractors point to problems arising from the use of disparate software applications to manage construction projects. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: Tier 1 Workstation Vendors vs. Boutique Suppliers —Different Strokes for Different CAD Folks
What do Tier 2 OEMs, resellers, and system integrators offer that Dell, HP, and Lenovo don't? There are big differences in overclocking, core frequency, liquid-cooling options, and more. Read more »

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