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Software tools expand industry's view of CAD data
Software solutions for aerospace
Software tools expand industry's view of CAD data
The more people who have access to common data, the greater the value of those data to the business. Such is the reasoning behind the launch of Panorama and Panorama Producer two new software products from Performance Graphics.
Industry's drive to shorten product development times has led to the widespread use of concurrent engineering, a trend supported by the rapid take-up of intranet and Internet technology. However, system constraints often confine this improved information flow within the design area, particularly in the case of 3D models. Consequently, anyone else on the network who does not have accelerated graphics hardware is left with, at best, a 2D image of limited value.
Enter Performance Graphics' Panorama. This package allows standard personal computers (PCs) to view and manipulate 3D models by means of an innovative software accelerator. And it is this feature that also makes the product so easy to use.
Comments Performance Graphics' international marketing manager, Andy Parnell-Hopkinson:
"By using Panorama, staff from across the organisation, plus technical staff out in the field, can access 3D models and spin, pan, zoom and fly through them, whether the data are retrieved via a PC or high-specification workstation."
"Compared to standard VRML browsers, Panorama delivers a higher interactive spin performance and can handle larger assemblies. It is also available across a broad range of platforms. This means that whether an engineer has a standard Windows 95 PC or a high-end graphics workstation, they can still see and interact with the models through the same user interface."
While CAD models and associated information such as bills of materials (BOMs) probably meet the requirements of most internal users, there are equally those inside an organisation and externally who will derive even greater benefit from the depth and quality of information available through multimedia access. Again, Performance Graphics claims to have anticipated these demands with the launch of Panorama Producer an easy-to-use interface for developing function-specific applications based on the CAD model.
By adding multimedia information users are said to gain more value and assistance in their working task. Consider the case of the maintenance engineer called out to service or repair equipment in the field. With Performance Graphics' Panorama software, he could access the CAD model of the equipment assembly and spin it to look at specific items. However, the additional capabilities of Panorama Producer enable him to obtain additional support material through video, audio, text, animation or a direct link to technical publications. In this way, the technician is given sufficient detail to increase his productivity, thereby reducing repair times and improving customer satisfaction. Similarly, the availability of multimedia information could provide efficiency improvements for sales engineers, quality control and production staff, and trainees.
Andy Parnell-Hopkinson of Performance Graphics is convinced that Panorama Producer represents a significant step forward. "The content of the product gives far more accuracy than that traditionally available through technical publications as it can maintain a direct feed from the CAD models," he says. "As a result, the user gains a greater understanding through a 3D image and the company achieves a better return on its investment in generating the solid model."
Smart CAD users avoid maintenance payments
Industry is wasting millions of pounds paying maintenance for its legacy CAD data because it believes that this is the only way to preserve access to old drawings and models. Not so: Archive Alive a new software product also from Performance Graphics claims a more cost-effective alternative and allows design or production engineers to get at historical information from any PC or workstation.
Information on CAD files represents millions of pounds' worth of time, imagination and effort. Yet when companies migrate to a new system they face the dilemma of either losing any historical data files or paying thousands of pounds a year to maintain the software licence and, in some cases, keeping outdated hardware serviceable.
Andy Parnell-Hopkinson, Performance Graphics' International marketing manager, offers a better solution: allow the old licences to expire and invest in an Archive Alive package. "As part of our Performance Legacy suite, this software allows users to call up data from any database to view, manipulate and print them," he says.
Developed to satisfy the data retention needs of business regulators, Archive Alive is essential for companies that hold CAD and associated data within outdated proprietary systems. Using STEP standard rules, legacy CAD data are extracted from the existing system and transferred across to the user's new system server. Platforms currently supported include Windows NT or Windows 95, plus most Unix workstations.
Depending on the source data, Archive Alive enables the user to perform a wide range of functions independent of the original CAD system, namely to:
display text, and symbols;
view and rotate wireframe, surface or 3D solid models;
selectively display assembly layers;
measure dimensions and distances (non-driving dimensions);
plot any view or drawing.
As Parnell-Hopkinson stresses, the software confers three key benefits:
Companies can make immediate financial savings from the disposal of the old CAD hardware with its high maintenance costs.
They can suspend licence payments and free up funds for investment in new products.
Removing the old CAD equipment encourages users to quickly adopt the new set-up, ensuring a faster payback.
The Archive Alive software package works with data in standard DXF or IGES files, or can be extracted directly from AutoCAD, CADDS3, CADDS4X, CADDSS, CADAM, CATIA, I-DEAS (drafting), Intergraph EMS, Medusa, Microstation, PDGS and Personal Designer. Model data can also be extracted from any ACIS-based modeller, including Autodesk Mechanical Desktop.
Details from Performance Graphics. Tel. +44 (0) 1635 552588; Fax: +44 (0)1635 551147; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org