Report: ICEM Style

31 Mar, 2004 By: Laracella Sheridan

At a press event in February, ICEM previewed its upcoming ICEM Style product, developed for industrial designers and product stylists. It also released v4.4 of its Class A surface modeling, analysis, and visualization suite, ICEM Surf.

ICEM develops surface-based modeling software for use in the design and development of automotive vehicle bodies and interiors and consumer durable products. Its principal market is the auto industry, and customers include Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Harley Davidson, to name just a few.

Despite the sluggish economy, ICEM reported a successful year, with several notable wins: Nissan Worldwide replaced its in-house design system with ICEM Surf and recently Renault implemented ICEM Surf for its vehicle interior design work.

ICEM Style
ICEM Style (available soon) is a stand-alone program that integrates with ICEM Surf, making it easy to take your design from idea to manufacturing. Style is designed to help move designers from clay model iterations to digital design.

Figure 1. ICEM Style in Standard View mode, using self-shadowing and light-source manipulation to evaluate gaps and shadow fall.

With tools such as geometry sketching, digital taping, and automatic surface generation, ICEM says you can model and edit true geometry to create and evaluate designs much faster than with traditional tools.

ICEM Style uses the same data architecture as ICEM Surf so that the original design data remains intact and reusable downstream. You can use the more sophisticated surface construction and analysis tools found in ICEM Surf to iterate the design through to final production tooling.

ICEM Style supports curve, surface, and facet-based modeling workflows, so you can choose the approach that best suits your skills or the task at hand (figure 2). Developed with casual users in mind, ICEM Style's user interface can be customized to suit multidisciplinary project or team-specific workflows. ICEM Style is easy to learn and use, according to the company. You use a combination of pen-based and mouse-based input methods to create curves in the same way that you normally sketch, so you can create sweeping freeform curves without concern for the underlying mathematics.

Figure 2. Based on the unified modeling kernel, Style supports curve, surface, and facet-based modeling.

You can also import traditional concept design sketches, such as a vehicle packaging or power-train model, into ICEM Style for use as the basis for digital geometry creation..

ICEM Style's digital tape tools mimic real tape. You can use and save multiple tape sizes, styles, and colors for different purposes and pinch and pull the tape to achieve your desired character line.

The Surface Fit tool creates a surface model with just one menu button selection, making it easy to check for feasibility issues and run initial engineering analyses (figure 3).

Figure 3. ICEM Quick surfacing tools let you quickly drape surfaces over curve network. This model is shaded with concept shading using a background image for guidance.

This one-button approach to surface model creation frees designers from procedures and underlying mathematics so they can focus on the design and the creative process. On the other hand, the ability to iterate high-quality surface models during styling and concept design means that important design decisions can be made much earlier in the design process.

In addition, Style's Bookmark tools let you experiment with different design approaches. You can save design themes during a design session and roll back to them during design review.

Visualization, a key component of ICEM Style, includes real-time photorealistic shading, real-time concept and silhouette line shading, ray-traced rendering, and radiosity rendering. Preset and user-definable virtual studio environments let you quickly place a vehicle into a customized or standard real-time or static virtual environment.

ICEM Style's database supports massive models, so you can work with complete vehicle and power-train models in real time at the concept stage in a photorealistic environment.

ICEM Surf 4.4, the company's Class A surface modeling, analysis, and visualization software suite, is rewritten from the ground up. The program is now parametric, and its new architecture paves the way for use with 64-bit technology while retaining compatibility with older versions. New capabilities include feature recognition, the ability to create feature libraries, and the exchange of intelligent features among different ICEM Surf users. Bidirectional geometric data exchange is improved.

Figure 4. Surf 4.4 is the company's Class A surface modeling, analysis, and visualization suite.

ICEM Surf currently exchangesgeometric data with other CAD systems via neutral formats such as IGES, VDA, STL, and SET and via direct interfaces to CATIA V4 and V5, Unigraphics NX, I-deas, Pro/ENGINEER, and CADDS5. ICEM Surf 4.4 adds associativity with solid modeling-based CAD systems such as CATIA V5 and Unigraphics. The product's Surface Checker facility helps to maintain surface data when you exchange files between ICEM Surf and CAD/CAM systems from other vendors.

With Surf 4.4, you can now model fillet flanges and tubing, and feature recognition capabilities apply to such things as fillets, fillet flanges, tubing, and addenda surfaces. Other enhancements include curve matching, fillet, corner fillet, flange, and surface of revolution. S urface-quality analysis is provided through a range of additional options in the surface checker. An updated flat-spot analysis capability pinpoints potential problems such as drumming or vibration caused by body panels being too flat.

Other enhancements include an updated graphics environment that supports individual tessellation and cubic texture mapping.

ICEM Surf 4.4 also includes enhanced safety analysis tools in response to new European laws that will come into effect in October 2005 to better protect pedestrians and cyclists involved in traffic accidents.

The Whole Package
By using ICEM Style for conceptual design and ICEM Surf for downstream Class A surface development and tooling design and by taking advantage of both products' data consistency with solid modeling CAD/CAM systems, ICEM believes that you can realize significant savings in overall design time when compared with traditional methods.

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