Cadalyst Labs Review: CoCreate OneSpace 200630 Sep, 2006 By: IDSA ,Mike Hudspeth
You can rent this nonhistory-based modeler
3D modeling provides many ways to get things done. All methods and tools at your disposal have their advantages and disadvantages. It's up to the 3D designer to know the tools and select which to use in a given situation. To be a master modeler, you can't lock yourself into one way of doing things. It takes more work, to be sure, but the benefits down the road will pay off.
Recently, I met with a company that has taken that message to heart. CoCreate Software, the developer of the OneSpace 2006 suite, understands that there's no one-size-fits-all in the world of 3D product development (figure 1). Geometry is king. It's wonderful if you can make rapid changes and what-if scenarios on the fly, but if the shape of the model isn't correct, what have you really got? I do like parameters and features and think they have a place among the tools of the trade. But sometimes they get in the way. They can take too long to set up. And how many times have we designed ourselves into corners that we can't get out of? In the end, we abandon our design, scrap the model and start over. That's a very real possibility with a history-based modeling system, but not so with CoCreate's OneSpace 2006.
Figure 1. This camera model was created using CoCreate OneSpace 2006.
OneSpace Designer Modeling 2006 is a nonhistory-based modeler. In a history-based modeling system, everything you do is linear. One thing follows another and is dependent on what came before. Reordering features sometimes is difficult because of this linearity. In a nonhistory-based modeling system, you don't care about the order in which you do things. If you put on a boss, for instance, it doesn't matter to the system when you did it. The topology is still there. You can build right over it with other features and not affect the boss. It exists as it did when it was created. You can change it because it has height, width and so on, but it stands on its own.
CoCreate OneSpace 2006
That's not to say that you can't add extra parameters. You can, but only where you want or need them (figure 2). It's your choice. This approach is very forward-looking—you don't have to look back in history to move your design ahead. Planned changes can take place quickly in a history-based system. But how often do you know what's going to change? Unplanned changes are easier to implement in nonhistory-based systems. OneSpace Designer Modeling used to be ACIS-based, but CoCreate found the kernel too limiting. It decided to branch out and build its own proprietary modeler. Since then, it hasn't looked back.
Figure 2. CoCreate allows you to add parameters where and when it makes sense to do so. They are applied directly to the model, where you would want them.
What Can it Do?
The CoCreate OneSpace 2006 suite is actually three modules: Designer Modeling, Model Manager and OneSpace.net. 3D modeling is the core of CoCreate's OneSpace 2006 suite, and Designer Modeling has plenty of tools to help you achieve your goals. One advantage of this nonhistory-based modeling system is that imported data is native for all intents and purposes. Designer Modeling looks at the geometry, not what it took to create it. After you import your data, Designer Modeling tries to recognize any features it sees. Bosses, pockets, blends and even sheet-metal parts—Designer Modeling assigns a type to the appropriate geometry so you can make any changes easily. Other software packages (such as SolidWorks and Solid Edge) have this capability, but most charge extra for it. When Designer Modeling recognizes a part as a sheet-metal part, it gives you the ability to fold and unfold it. This capability used to be part of a separate module, but now comes standard in the base product.
OneSpace Model Manager, CoCreate's companion to 3D modeling, is a database that maintains and organizes your modeling files. You can even associate other kinds of files so that everything that pertains to a given project or design can be kept together and referenced. Model Manager installs in less than 15 minutes with just six button pushes and lets you know which files are out of date, which are new versions, which are new parts, and so on.
How many times have you had to travel to attend a meeting that could've been handled over the phone? That's why things such as WebEx were invented. OneSpace.net is CoCreate's collaboration portal. It's aimed at teams of designers located in different places around the globe who want to eliminate unnecessary travel. You can use it online for real-time meetings, sharing applications, instant messaging, capturing screenshots, and creating markups, or you can use it offline to share files through an Explorer window or Web browser.
File sizes in CoCreate's suite tend to be about one-tenth what they are in history-based systems, and that size can be decreased even more. CoCreate breaks its models down into geometry and graphics. You access the graphic model as you rotate and zoom, using the lightweight graphical representation until you need precise modeling information. Then Model Manager automatically loads the geometry.
Figure 3. The Snapshot function lets you start modeling right where you left off the night before. Snapshot remembers what you had open, which viewports were active and even what lighting was turned on. It ll even save your zoom level.
How often do corporate tours come through your office? You have to clean up and put everything away. How productive is that? Now, how is that different from having to close down your files, applications and computer every night? Model Manager has a feature called Snapshot that eliminates much of that. You can save everything, open it the next day, and it's just as you left it (figure 3). Snapshot manages viewports, rotation, even what's loaded. It automatically puts you back where you left off. It also supports engineering change orders and design reviews. It's aware of any changes that may have been made overnight and can notify and ask you for a decision about what to load. You can even compare changes between files the way you would between two Word documents (figure 4).
Figure 4. You can compare models side by side to see what s different. If someone has made a change, you ll be able to spot it right away.
Designer Modeling uses 3D configurations to remember the position of what you are working on, what's on and off and the camera position. You can save the open position and the closed position of an assembly of parts. That's useful for when you create a drawing and want to show both. You have all the software's creation and modification capabilities in your configurations. You can capture different stages of the design for in-process manufacturing steps, families of parts or whatever. You can even use 3D configurations for awesome exploded views (figure 5).
Figure 5. You can use configurations to create exploded views of your models. You then can bring these views onto a drawing.
Designer Modeling has many great assembly capabilities without actually being an assembly modeler. Clash reporting is a good example. When several designers work on a design, it becomes pretty hard to make everything match up correctly. One designer specifies a diameter to a shaft and another specifies the hole. When they don't match, Designer Modeling can track their status as modified, accepted or open. And the designers can apply the analysis to each configuration to make sure they are all as intended. You can even specify press fits. Another nice capability in Designer Modeling is physical simulation, which is part of the Advance Design module. As I said earlier, OneSpace 2006 is not an assembly modeler, but you can build an assembly of parts and move them in 3D space as though you had mating conditions and such. You can tell Designer Modeling the motion the parts will have, and it automatically recognizes when parts run into each other. Finally, you can save parts from a Designer Modeling assembly into their own files at any time. They can be linked or stand alone.
You can customize the user interface for your particular working style. But if that's not enough—say you want to accommodate a company business process—CoCreate engineers can consult with you about your needs. CoCreate OneSpace 2006 offers 64-bit support for those who can use greater physical memory capabilities to load larger data sets. If your products are massive assemblies of parts, this product will be worth your time to check out. If you're not yet ready for 64-bit, CoCreate also offers Designer Modeling in a 32-bit version.
CoCreate offers a unique licensing option—you can rent OneSpace in 12-month blocks, which include technical support and access to all software releases. You can rent Designer Modeling for $54 a week and Model Manager and OneSpace.net for $9 a week (each). If you prefer to do it the standard way, a Designer Modeling license costs around $6,300, plus $1,400 a year for support. Model Manager and OneSpace.net each sell for roughly $1,000, plus $200 a year for support. Other pricing structures are available.
Flexible for Design
CoCreate's OneSpace 2006 release is a very flexible design modeling package. That's why 15 of the world's printer, copier and multifunction printer manufacturers use it. Its nonhistory-based approach means it plays well with the other kids on the modeling block. Highly Recommended.
Mike Hudspeth, IDSA, is an industrial designer, artist and author based in St. Louis, Missouri.