30 Jun, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

A behind-the-scenes look at the CAD world

It's a Blast (Off)

Got a minute? Build a rocket launcher. GlobalSpec's new online game Brain Strainer provides standard mechanical components from which you assemble a machine that generates energy with which to launch a rocket. Find the game at Hint: Complexity can be rewarded.


Ashlar-Vellum now rents its Cobalt, Xenon, Argon and Graphite applications, with yearly and monthly pricing schemes available. Renters can apply as much as one-half their current rental fees toward one-half of the price of a permanent license.

Whadda Ya Know?

Cadpo, developer of the engineering knowledge learning system, changed its name to iKnowledge Solutions after becoming a member of India's Tata Technologies Group.

Free Drafting Download

UGS announced a new 2D drafting tool that will be available for download at no charge in late July. The stand-alone product contains all Solid Edge 2D drawing functionality and is not limited by print restrictions or watermarks. Solid Edge's Adrian Scholes expects the tool to prove very popular with the company's customer base and cause some disruption in the industry. For some tasks, such as P&ID diagrams and schematics, 2D remains the preferred design mode.

How techno-savvy are you?
How techno-savvy are you?

Channel Consolidation

Perhaps promped by Auto-desk's increased drive for vertical-market expertise, consolidation among resellers continues with the acquisition of Sterling Systems by Avatech Solutions. Sterling's offices in Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago and Cleveland bring the total number of U.S. Avatech offices to 20.

Don't Rock the Boat

Noran Engineering, developer of NEi Nastran FEA (finite-element analysis) software, will work with ShipConstructor Software to develop a program focused on the safe, damage-free lifting and handling of ship components during construction. The goal is to avoid costs and delays caused by damage done to ship components as they are moved around the shipyard. Code-named ShipLift, the new application will automatically calculate the proper pickup points through stress analysis.

New Modeling Engine

UGS released v18 of its Parasolid geometric modeling kernel, a component found under the hood of many CAD/CAM/CAE applications, including SolidWorks, MicroStation, IronCAD, VX CAD/CAM and UGS' own products. The latest release includes capabilities that enhance the level of user control in 3D model construction, editing and interrogation, as well as improvements in application support.

Up and Down at Agile

Agile Software ended fiscal year 2006 with $132.7 million in revenue, compared with $117 million the previous year, for a 13% growth rate. The net loss for the year was $7.8 million, slightly more than the loss of $7.2 million during the previous year.

Open Up

Xara released the source code for its Xara Xtreme graphics and illustration product in March under GPL license for development of a Linux version. Xara LX is now in v0.5, though the company says it's really more than halfway there. All tools are fully functional, including the ability to save and export files, with most menu options and some galleries also completed.

DWF vs. PDF?

Adobe Systems beats out Autodesk in Seeking Alpha's calculations of net income per employee, using the latest fiscal year totals for each company. Adobe earned $84,000 per employee, while Autodesk brought in $50,000 per employee. Both are dwarfed by Microsoft and its $185,000-per-employee figure.

"Nobody outside the consumer niche knows us . . . but we have a killer product that can go head-to-head with the 800lb gorilla, AutoCAD."
— Royal Farros, new CEO of TurboCAD developer IMSI/Design, from his blog (

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About the Author: Sara Ferris

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