CAD Central

30 Jun, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Adobe Dives into CAD Collaboration Market

Adobe Dives into CAD Collaboration Market

Adobe, the darling of graphics artists, is courting the engineering communities with its 3D products. The latest serenade comes in the form of Adobe Acrobat 3D v8 ($995, $295 upgrade). Addressing the CAD, CAM and CAE users by name in its literature, Adobe touts Acrobat 3D v8's ability "to convert virtually any CAD file to a highly compressed 3D PDF file." The company urges, "Use the de facto PDF standard for more secure, reliable electronic information exchange as the foundation of the release process of your CAD data to your customers and suppliers."

 Acrobat 3D v8 features enhanced CAD-file conversion.
Acrobat 3D v8 features enhanced CAD-file conversion.

The CAD-file conversion function comes via TTF (Trade and Technologies France), a CAD interoperability software maker that Adobe acquired in April 2006. With TTF's CAD translators in place, Acrobat 3D recognizes native CAD files from standard industrial packages such as Pro/ENGINEER, CATIA, Inventor, SolidWorks and others. It also can import them with the assembly hierarchies and parent–child relationships intact. This ability allows the recipients of the Acrobat 3D files to inspect not just the geometry of the 3D parts but also understand the product structure. The recipients also will be able to take measurements and see cross-sectional views. Compressed files published from Acrobat 3D can be as much as 150 times smaller than the source CAD file, according to Adobe.

Instead of sending separate PDF files to each reviewer, Acrobat 3D users can share a 3D PDF file in a managed environment, which eliminates the need to manually consolidate all the mark ups returned from different reviewers. The published 3D parts can include product-manufacturing information such as dimensions and tolerances. Acrobat 3D supports exploded views, animations and embedded Office files, such as Excel worksheets and Word documents. Security features allow Acrobat 3D users to limit access through password protection, disabling printing and copying, setting expiration dates and other restrictions.

Microsoft Gets Touchy

At first glance, Microsoft's new computer looks more like a coffee table than a computing device. Even though it won't actually serve you coffee, you probably can order a cup of joe or a cocktail simply by tapping on its touch-sensitive surface. Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Sheraton hotel lobbies and T-Mobile stores are among the first places where the new machine will debut.

A display from Microsoft's Surface Computer.
A display from Microsoft's Surface Computer.

According to the company, "Surface computing at Microsoft is an outgrowth of a collaborative effort between the Microsoft Hardware and Microsoft Research teams, which were struck by the opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds."

Presently, haptic computing in CAD is largely confined to the use of force feedback devices, such as styluses and mice that simulate sensations corresponding to the digital objects' collisions, movements and textures. Microsoft's new tabletop computing paradigm opens new possibilities for engineers, designers and architects seeking to collaborate and operate in paperless virtual offices.

CIMdata Turns Eyes to CAM

In its NC [numerically controlled] Software and Related Services Market Assessment Report, analyst firm CIMdata tackles the highly fragmented CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) industry. The report lists Planit Holdings, CNC Software, UGS, PTC and Delcam as the top five vendors for 2006, on the basis of CAM industrial seats shipped. The ranking based on revenue, however, shows an altogether different picture. By revenue, the five most rapidly growing CAM vendors are Planit Holdings, Delcam, SolidCAM, Vero International and TekSoft.

"The changes in rankings are primarily due to the differences in level and breadth of product and associated software pricing among the vendors," CIMdata noted. For 2007, CIMdata projects that the five most rapidly growing companies will be SolidCAM, TekSoft, Gibbs, OPEN MIND and Delcam.

The importance of CAM software has come to the forefront as PLM leaders— Dassault Systemes, PTC and UGS—compete to provide the most comprehensive software to cover the product lifecycle from conceptualization to retirement.

As a freelance writer, Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology.

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