Week 1 of of my new career adventure is in the books, and I couldn’t be more excited. My new company, SpaceClaim Corp, is leading the industry with direct-modeling 3D software. Innovation is in the air.
First things first… what the hell is direct-modeling?
Your car, dishwasher, mouse, stereo, chair, lawnmower, TV, and toilet all started life as 3D virtual models on some designer’s workstation. That designer most likely created the model with a feature-based, parametric modeling tool such as Pro/Engineer, CATIA, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, UG (NX), or Inventor.
The models created by these tools are difficult to modify by anyone except the designer who created them. Features are tied to sketches and other features in a rigid hierarchy that needs to be well thought out prior to building the model. The designers creating these models are CAD experts and drive these design tools for a living. So, what happens when they hand this model off to a CAE engineer?
Well, the CAE engineer rarely has the expertise of a full-time designer when it comes to CAD. The first thing they’ll want to do is de-feature the CAD model, removing small features such as holes and fillets. At best, those elements are typically unnecessary for CAE simulation. At worst, they wreak havoc on the meshing process and solve times. It is at this point when CAE engineers begin the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth.
Turns out, the de-featuring process can be brutal in this scenario. The engineer has no idea how the designer laid out this model. Nor does she have a designer’s deep CAD expertise, experience, or training. The process of removing parts and suppressing unwanted features often “breaks” the model resulting in the infamous “regeneration failure” message.
Direct-modeling avoids this horror by stripping out all of the painful, relational feature history. The engineer is able to directly and precisely edit any piece of the geometry without fear of destroying the rest of the model. Most engineers exposed to this style of modeling for CAE say it gives them the freedom to “slice & dice” at will.
How the heck is that possible? Sounds too good to be true. Well, that’s what I’ll be exploring in the next few blog posts. Meantime, I recommend you install the trial version and experience it for yourself.
Oh… and did I mention, you can even edit and modify “dumb” models imported as IGES and STEP? Stay tuned.