MCAD Tech News #93 (Mar. 27, 2003)

26 Mar, 2003 By: Joe Greco

Exchanging accurate data between CAD programs remains a top priority for users. That's why I'd like to use this newsletter to give interoperability updates. So, let's take a look at the recent interoperability developments.

Capvidia, LLC

Capvidia, LLC, with U.S. headquarters in New Ulm, MN, recently updated its program called 3DVision, which is used for healing, repair, and translation of CAD models. Built on its own conversion technology, the company's FormatWorks software is for translation of models into SolidWorks.

I recently saw a Web demo of 3DVision and was impressed with its user interface and capabilities. For starters, while I didn't get the chance to use it, its operation seemed fairly simple as it looked and felt like a typical MCAD program. For instance, on the left side, where an MCAD program usually has model tree, 3DVision has a list of model problems. Clicking on a model problem, such as Tiny Faces, allows you to enter a value and let program find all the faces that meet those criteria.

An important aspect of 3DVision is that it works within the existing tolerance of the imported model, meaning no model topology is ever changed. During the demonstration, a Capvidia technical person showed me a model imported into SolidWorks that had its faces changed in order for SolidWorks to translate it properly, whereas the conversion by 3DVision left all the faces intact.

The software also has a basic set of drawing tools to create and split edges as well as create, trim, and offset a surface. These are used when manual repair is necessary. 3DVision can also produce a consistent SLT mesh for rapid-prototyping machines. Reports can also be generated in order to show which elements were ignored, repaired, and so on, and what problems were found.

A few weeks before the demonstration, I talked with a Capvidia representative and he asked me to send him a file that I knew had translation problems. I sent them a 2MB CATIA IGES file, which I knew caused various problems in most MCAD programs--mainly missing and reversed faces. Again they chose to use SolidWorks as an example, this time showing me how the converted SolidWorks model couldn't be scaled, whereas the 3Dvision results worked fine. When I opened the file in SolidWorks 2003 to test this, I had the same scaling problem. However, I didn't have time to contact SolidWorks to determine if the company could find a solution to the problem.

The Capvidia representatives also mentioned that the software works well in translating CATIA files from V4 to V5 and back, albeit, they admitted, the backward translation does have certain limitations. In speaking to Dassault representatives, they maintain that CATIA 4-to-CATIA 5 conversion is no longer an issue.

3DVision cost $6,000. For more information got to

Elysium Inc.

One area that 3Dvision does not cover is feature-based translation, a rapidly growing area of interoperability. The latest vendor to join companies such as, CAD/CAM-e, Proficiency, Theorem Solutions, TTF, and TTI, is Elysium, headquartered in Torrance, CA. A veteran to the translation business, Elysium used NDES (see Issue #92 to debut its technology, which is essentially an enhancement to its existing CADporter and CADserver software products.

As with the other translation companies, Elysium is only offering its feature-based technology between a few applications-the company chose CATIA, SolidWorks, and Inventor. Most of the other companies also offer feature-based SolidWorks and Inventor translations for the midrange market, but I would still like to see Solid Edge added into the mix in a few of these solutions. One distinction Elysium does have is that its software also runs on various flavors of UNIX, including AIX, HP-UX and IRIX, and Solaris. At NDES, the company also introduced CADpdm for moving PDM metadata between systems. For more details, go to

Geomenon, Inc.

Also at NDES, I received a quick demonstration of ShapeRight, based on technology from a new company called Geomenon, located in Boulder, CO. Its Chairman and CEO is a respected name in the interoperability business--Richard Sowar, who founded Spatial Technology back in the mid-'80s. ShapeRight employs patent-pending, deformable healing technology that minimizes shape changes whenever curves and surfaces are sewn together. The developer also has a patent pending on its interactive healing technology that enables model repair when automatic healing methods are insufficient. Additionally, ShapeRight's technology doesn't cause models to increase dramatically in size, as they sometimes do with other translation software. In addition to a program for CAD consumers, Geomenon will also make its technology available to MCAD vendors, so they can incorporate it into their applications. The beta version of ShapeRight will be available before the end of Q2 2003, according to the company. For more information, visit


So, there you have some of the most important announcements regarding interoperability over the past few months. The upcoming months promise more exciting news, as more programs will be added to feature-based matrixes of some companies, while other developers will continue to focus on improving the accuracy of model translations. Stay tuned as these vendors, and perhaps new ones, continue to work hard to make your data conversion problems a thing of the past.

Relevant Links

Capvidia, LLC:

Elysium Inc.:

Geomenon, Inc: