Free and easy

Dassault Systèmes is embarked on an all-out drive to widen and extend its presence in the design and development space. Tom Shelley reports



Dassault Systèmes is introducing increasingly sophisticated free tools and services to bring product concept designers and even games designers into its fold. At the same time, it is seeking to advance its web-based PLM offerings, while continuing to enhance Catia both in its V6 and V5 embodiments.
The new tools are expansions of www.3dvia.com plus a new initiative, Design Studio, both of which are free at present.
“In a few months, I will have one million models on 3dvia.com and you will be able to drive a car with an Xbox controller or a Sony Playstation 3,” claimed the company’s vice president research and development Dominique Florack at the recent European Catia Forum in Paris. “One of my biggest customers is Electronic Arts, which uses Virtools and will probably soon use 3dvia Shape. My priority now is to create Catia Live Shape and make it available online.”
This, for those who don’t know, is Dassault’s version of what Siemens PLM call their ‘Synchronous Technology’, which allows the modification of any model from any CAD system without having to worry about the history of how it was produced.
While the largest number of models on 3dvia.com use 3dxml, there are also many produced using 3D studio and Sketchup, so it seems to be achieving its goal of becoming a networking and exchange site for the 3D design community in general.
Along with these developments, Dassault is pressing ahead with its V6 web-based offerings, while maintaining support for V5, with the recent release of V5 R19, which has functionality enhancements synchronised with those available in the latest version of V6, V6R2009X.
Most users still seem to be on V5, which also allows collaborative, automated, parametric design. Bernd Wörner of Homag Holzbearbetungssysteme described how twelve or the company’s 14 locations involved in their production of machines for furniture production are integrated through Enovia V5. The company is now on Catia V5 R18 with VPM Navigator and can produce the design of tool-specific dust collector hoods in, five to 10 minutes, processing 274 formulae and 470 parameters in each case.
Eureka questioned Bernard Charlès, CEO of Dassault Systèmes, as to whether there was any security risk in the sort of totally collaborative design and development process for which the V6 products are optimised. “Its going to be very essential,” he responded, pointing out that, as well as Microsoft’s security, “we will have our own IP protection tools in our software.” Seemingly, this will include encryption, as well as access control. “It was done for customers in Korea,” he confides, “who are obsessed with cyber threats.”
Also at the forum, Ann Assencio, vice president of Design Experience, referred to her department as very much an “entity of people”, rather than a “product”. Even though it is built around users of the Dassault Imagine and Shape product, it is not restricted to Dassault product users, she points out; even non-CAD users can take part. “It’s a service that we are offering to the design community,” she told Eureka. Key to this is interaction with R&D, although the company also intends to encompass 3D entertainment and gaming. Assencio describes how there is often a strong crossover between designers of concept engineering models, and developers of virtual models for films and games.

Pointers

* www.3dvia.com is being extended and enhanced with new tools that are free at present

* The company has set up a new initiative called ‘Design Studio’ to encourage interaction between designers, who do not necessarily have to use Dassault tools or any CAD tools at all.

* V6, the web collaborative version of the company’s products, is continuing to forge ahead, but support is being maintained for Catia V5, including a new release, R19

Author
Tom Shelley

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