Light data speeds styling and collaboration

Tom Shelley reports on software aimed at easing the work of industrial designers and collaboration

New software modules replace clay modelling of shapes, but with much faster sculpting powers and speed collaboration by drastically reducing file sizes.

"Imagine and Shape 2" is part of Catia V5 R14 and is the result of a three year collaboration between Dassault Systems, IBM Labs and New York University. Unlike conventional 3D styling packages, it uses smooth patches so designs can be used to make moulds at any point. As well as easy editing of single 3D forms, it can also be used to sculpt aspects of a group of forms together, so that each object remains different, but conforms to a common surface constraint.

In another development announced by Dassault, 3D XML for PLM, file sizes may be compressed by 99% or more as compared to conventional CAD files, in order to ease collaboration and data sharing. The format is now incorporated into all Dassault's products, including Catia, Delmia, Enovia, Smarteam, SolidWorks and Spatial. BOM data remains associated but file sizes are kept small by using what Dassault describes as "Quasi exact" geometry, which turns out to mean reducing native CAD geometry by a factor of about 100, although, we are told, "You can make it closer if you like."
Much of the underlying technology apparently comes from the games industry.

Catia - Imagine and Shape 2

Tom Shelley

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