The Events That Shaped MCAD in 2007

12 Dec, 2007 By: Cadalyst Staff

Acquisitions, new launches, and a changing of the guard are some of the events that kept the manufacturing design world buzzing this year.

As we wrap up the year, I am reminded that 2007 proved to be yet another year filled with news and events that changed the MCAD landscape. Some were surprising, some weren't, and some seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. I thought I'd recap the stories that I think were among the most significant in 2007.

PTC Acquires CoCreate
PTC acquired CoCreate Software this year for approximately $250 million. With the acquisition PTC has the opportunity to broaden its MCAD portfolio, because it plans to integrate the CoCreate modeling products with the PTC Product Development System (PDS).

CoCreate is the latest in a long series of acquisitions that PTC has made over the years that have included Computervision, Mechanica, Arbortext, and Mathcad, among many others.

SpaceClaim Launched
Over the last dozen years or so, many MCAD applications have come and gone. Not all of them succeeded. The past couple of years, however, had been relatively quiet with few full-blown MCAD products being introduced. That is until last March, when a newcomer called SpaceClaim announced the launch of its flagship product, SpaceClaim Professional 2007.

SpaceClaim CEO Mike Payne was formerly with Spatial, Dassault Systemes, and PTC and was a cofounder of SolidWorks, so the company had a strong footing from which to launch. To date, the company has shipped more than 500 licenses to more than 100 customers. It has raised a second round of funding and has attracted more than 20 resellers globally to sell SpaceClaim Professional. The company has also entered into relationships with suppliers for eCAD integration, CAE, and parts libraries, including Rhino, ANSYS, and CircuitWorks.

Dassault Acquires ICEM
In late April, Dassault Systemes announced that it was acquiring ICEM, a developer of high-quality surface modeling and rendering applications. Dassault's intent behind the acquisition was to extend CATIA's presence in the automotive styling communities.

With this acquisition, ICEM seemed to have finally found a permanent home after changing hands a few times in the past several years. The acquisition was not all that surprising since ICEM had increasingly based its product line on Dassault Systemes' CAA V5 architecture that integrates it with CATIA.

Inventor LT
In May, Autodesk announced a technology preview release of Autodesk Inventor LT software, the newest member of its Inventor family of software products. Inventor LT does not include AutoCAD Mechanical or Autodesk Vault, but it includes the same 3D part modeling, import/export, rendering, and documentation capabilities available with the other senior members of the Autodesk Inventor 2008 product family.

Using DWG TrueConnect, Inventor LT is interoperable with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Inventor LT also includes Autodesk Design Review, so it can publish 2D and 3D DWF files. It seems to be a good starter toolset of Inventor features and capabilities.

SymLab Professional
Richard Smith, the principal of a software development company called Symscape, introduced us to his product line known as SymLab, a cross-platform, CAD-neutral CAE application. Smith said that SymLab and its add-ons are based on three freely available open source components:

  • Open Cascade -- SymLab's geometry engine that includes components for 3D surface and solid modeling, visualization, data exchange, and rapid application development of numerical simulation software
  • Visualization Tool Kit (VTK) -- SymLab's graphics library for image processing and 3D visualization
  • wxWidgets -- SymLab's cross-platform GUI/framework toolkit

A Change at the SolidWorks Helm
In July, Dassault Systemes announced the appointment of Jeff Ray as CEO of SolidWorks. Previously COO, Ray replaced John McEleney, who had recently resigned. Leadershipwise, Ray had some very big shoes to fill, and since his background is more sales-oriented, he's likely to be more of a "numbers" guy. So far though, he seems to be leading SolidWorks in a continued positive direction.

Dinner with Woz
OK, this is a personal favorite of mine for the year, so bear with me. At the last SolidWorks World, I had the opportunity to meet and chat briefly over dinner with Steve Wozniak, a cofounder of Apple Computer. Wozniak, who happens to think it's much more important to be good at what you do than to have a lot of glamorous toys, had some sound advice to hardware and software vendors: "Listen to your users, keep things simple, and keep technology transparent. Companies have to decide which is more important — people or technology. If you're smart, you'll focus on the user. Bend hardware and software on ease of use for the user, not the other way around." This is especially good advice for MCAD vendors, and most are taking it to heart with products that not only have more capabilities, but also shallower learning curves.

Do any other significant MCAD events or news items come to mind? If so, post your comments at the Cadalyst MCAD Tech Discussion Forum. We look forward to hearing from you to make it a better forum for mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing issues where all are encouraged to participate and have their voices heard.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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