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31 Jul, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

SolidWorks 2008 Arrives; Anark Enters the Collaboration Market; $1 Million to Seek Greener Pastures


SolidWorks 2008 Arrives

Don't just do CAD — design! That's the philosophy behind SolidWorks 2008, according to its creators. Notable changes to the interface include tabulated menus and a floating custom-tool palette. The latter is designed to dramatically reduce mouse travel and clicks for commonly performed operations.

A screenshot showing the Live Cross-Sections feature.
A screenshot showing the Live Cross-Sections feature.

SWIFT Instant3D, based on SolidWorks' SWIFT technology, makes it possible to deform and morph the model by pulling, pushing, and sectioning the geometry using drag handles. The Live Cross-Sections feature lets users directly edit and modify the models in a 3D cross-sectional view (see figure). DriveWorksXpress lets companies capture the design process numerically, allowing a user to simply enter new dimensions into a dialog box to automatically generate variant products. DimXpert can examine a design for manufacturing features and apply the appropriate dimensioning schemes. Automatic edge rounding, Design Clipart search, and selective assembly component opening also are meant to increase productivity.

The 2008 release introduces DFMXpress, a handy tool for checking manufacturability. The feature is aimed at preventing common design errors that could result in the creation of parts that are too costly or difficult to manufacture. According to SolidWorks, the new release boasts more than 250 user-requested enhancements.

Anark Enters the Collaboration Market

Though a relatively fresh face to engineers, Anark is no stranger to digital content developers, especially those in the computer game business. Now the company wants a piece of the CAD collaboration market. It recently launched Anark Core Platform, comprising Anark Core Server (starting at $25,000 per CPU license) and the stand-alone Anark Core Workstation (starting at $5,000 per seat). The Workstation (contrary to the name, the package is strictly software) lets users import CAD geometry from the standard 3D mechanical packages, remove the unnecessary features (such as holes and fillets), and then redistribute the data as a tessellated model.

Anark Core Workstation software.
Anark Core Workstation software.

After the recipes are created and stored, the software can process batch transformation jobs automatically and rapidly. The use of service-oriented architecture makes the product easy to integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product data management (PDM) systems. Anark supports STEP, IGES, CATIA V4 and V5, Pro/E, Unigraphics, Collada, and VDA. SolidWorks and Inventor support is coming.

Using Anark Platform, an original equipment manufacturer might strip the CAD geometry to the point where he or she feels comfortable releasing it for downstream usage (for example, creating high-resolution 3D graphics and technical illustrations for product catalogs and manuals) but is still relatively confident that the same data cannot be used to reverse-engineer a rival product.

$1 Million to Seek Greener Pastures

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is making plans to pump more green — to the tune of $1 million — into research targeted at solutions for energy and water security, global climate change prevention, indoor environmental quality, and passive survivability in the face of both natural and manmade disasters.

So what prompted the new urgency? The answer is in the USGBC's March 2007 report, titled Green Building Research Funding: An Assessment of Current Activity in the United States. The organization found that "research related to high-performance green building practices and technologies amounts to only 0.2% of all federally funded research — an average of $193 million per year (2002–2005) and only 0.02% of the estimated value of annual U.S. buildings construction."

In the report, the USGBC Research committee called for "a significantly higher level of funding for research that will advance building technology and techniques that minimize environmental and human health impacts."

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


About the Author: Kenneth Wong


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