Siemens Breaks Free from History22 Apr, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong
Company introduces Synchronous Technology, further blurring the line between freeform and parametric modeling.
As CAD modeling tasks have grown in complexity, what was once hailed a technology breakthrough -- history-based modeling -- has become a burden unto itself. The next breakthrough, according to Siemens PLM Software, is to break away from the mold of this method.
Yesterday, with the launch of a video clip followed by a Q&A session, Siemens executives introduced Synchronous Technology. Chuck Grindstaff, executive vice-president for products, announced, "Engineers at Siemens PLM Software have created a new way to interact efficiently, intuitively, and directly with parametric, history-based models without being confined to the way the model was constructed."
The bold claim made by Siemens is that "anyone can change any model, regardless of who created the original, without having to unravel and debug how it was built. The results: engineering change orders in seconds that would have taken hours."
Don't Know Much About History
Suppose you're modifying the shaft of a gas turbine assembly. According to Siemens' demonstration, you won't need to scrutinize the feature history panel to identify the specific series of operations required to build the shift in order to edit it. By simply picking the relevant part and dragging it forward or upward, you can modify the dimensions of the shaft. Synchronous Technology will recompute the associated edges, ribs, and ridges.
Synchronous Technology, recently made public by Siemens PLM software, is expected to let CAD users modify and edit parametric models with little or no regard for the model construction history.
Even on features that might have been generated from profile sketches, Synchronous Technology lets users select the profile and edit it, without the need to investigate how the dimension constraints were set up during the creation of the profile. The users rely on the software to recognize the feature as a rib from its shape and preserve the affected dimensions' relationships during the edit. The same method can be used on procedural features, such as patterns.
Even on features that might have been generated from profile sketches, Synchronous Technology lets users select the profile and edit it, without the need to investigate how the dimension constraints were set up during the creation of the profile.
The same method shown in the previous figure can be used on procedural features, such as patterns.
Users can employ the same modeling methods in imported parts and assemblies created in other CAD programs, not just Siemens products.
"Synchronous Technology breaks through the traditional architectural barrier inherent in history-based modeling," observed Ken Versprille, an analyst from CPD Associates. "Its ability to recognize the current geometry conditions and localize dependencies allows Synchronous Technology to solve a model edit without the full construction history replay from the point of edit. ... Users will see dramatic performance gain. A 100 times or more speed increase estimate is a conservative estimate."
According to Siemens executives, current customers on maintenance licenses can expect the new technology to be delivered via regular updates to its core products, UGS NX and Solid Edge. No additional fee is expected from the customers.
Helmuth Ludwig, president of Siemens PLM Software, suggested that UGS might have already been hard at work on Synchronous Technology before Siemens acquired that company. "Their engineers were working on a product that would fundamentally change the way manufacturers design products," he said. "So we decided to accelerate it."
Siemens' efforts to introduce history-free modeling capabilities also might have been precipitated by a competitor's actions. In January, at the launch of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0, PTC publicly announced the incorporation of freeform modeling (derived from its acquisition of CoCreate) in its parametric CAD software. (For more, read "PTC Gets Explicit at Pro/E Wildfire 4.0 Launch.")
According to Grindstaff, "Synchronous Technology isn't just a promise, isn't just a vision -- it's here, available now."
For more information on this development, check out the May 1 edition of Cadalyst's MCAD Tech News e-newsletter, by Jeff Rowe.)