Many organizations have a very mature 3D design process. It often involves a complex process dealing with vendors around the world, all using various design systems, PLM systems etc. In the heart of the war of 3D CAD, we have all tried various ways of working together, often via neutral file formats in an effort to come up with some sort of common standard. We have tried IGES, STEP and even Parasolid/ACIS at the kernel level. All have there pluses and minuses. The obvious minus is that they all lack intelligence. We as designers lose the design intent, the meta data that is embedded in the model as well as the ability to track change.
Many third parties have developed translators in an effort to keep the design process pure. But, the fundamental nature of a translator is that you risk losing the intelligence that you are trying so hard to capture. What happens if a change happens in the original model? Does that change propogate? How does the team know a change was made? What is needed is the ability to capture the intelligence and maintain a connection.This requires a rethink of how we view design systems. The idea that we should be open to appreciate that multiple systems exist, they will always exist. We as vendors need to consider how to work seamlessly with other systems whether they are direct competitors or not.
Enter Autodesk Inventor AnyCAD, launched this Spring in Inventor 2016. AnyCAD is integrated file interoperability technology that provides direct associative capabilities without the need for file translation. Imagine you are an Inventor house that works with a supplier that uses SolidWorks. You are designing a pedal assembly and one of the components that you use is being redesigned by your supplier. What version should you use? How can you both design in an open environment. In the video above, we see both systems displayed for clarity sake. The Inventor user inserts the SolidWorks component into their assembly. Along the way, changes are made to the SolidWorks model and are automatically updated in Inventor with FULL associativity. Not only are features changed on the model, but as intelligence is added to the SolidWorks model, it appears automatically in Inventor. This allows a seamless real-time design workflow that is open and transparent. The Inventor user can leverage the native SolidWorks model inside Inventor and can even perform a simulation using Nastran In-CAD to ensure it meets the specification of the overall design.
The takeaway here is that design is evolving. The tools are evolving and we as vendors are evolving. It’s an exciting time to be in the design and manufacturing industry. The fun continues. What’s next?