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Technology for Design Engineering

An Explicit-Analysis Partnership

FEA and CAD Developers Form Alliance

| Published September 10, 2009

We gather here this week to bear witness to the union of SpaceClaim and ANSYS, another CAD-FEA courtship that has just blossomed. The conjoining of CAD and analysis is nothing new. In fact, some previous engagements led to lasting corporate marriages later on: for instance, SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks; Autodesk Inventor and ALGOR.

The first pair, SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks, officially wedded each other when SolidWorks’ parent company Dassault Systemes bought COSMOSWorks’ owner SRAC in 2001. The tight integration between SolidWorks and the entry-level analysis program SimulationXpress (formerly COSMOSXpress) is a testament to the bond, now approaching its 10-year anniversary mark.

The second pair came together when Autodesk snatched up ALGOR for $34 million in 2008. With this small dowry, Inventor, which had been flirting with several of its FEA partners, gains access to ALGOR’s simulation features. Other notable couplings include PTC’s merger with RASNA in 1995, which gave birth to Pro/ENGINEER Mechanica, and UGS’ acquisition of FEMAP in 2004, which was later inherited by Siemens PLM Software when it acquired UGS.

Recent tidings of ANSYS and SpaceClaim came in the form of a partnership between their parent companies, made public on Wednesday September 9. They gave mutual consent to “a licensing and distribution agreement [for ANSYS] to offer SpaceClaim 3D Direct Modeling as part of the ANSYS Simulation Driven Product Development process.” The arrangement yielded ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler, an explicit -- or, if you prefer, direct modeling -- CAD program interoperable with ANSYS 12.0 and 11.0 software as well as ANSYS Workbench 2.0.

This latest pairing is noticeably different from the preceding ones, because of SpaceClaim’s history as a history-free CAD package, and because the ability to disregard feature history is an advantage in analysis model preparation.

An Explicit-Analysis Partnership An Explicit-Analysis Partnership
Figs 1A and 1B: With ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler, you can automatically find and fix problematic areas, creating clean geometry for meshing and analysis in ANSYS Workbench.

Feature-Suppression Made Easy
Unlike a parametric CAD program, direct-modeler SpaceClaim lets you remove holes, bosses, rounded edges, ribs and other details in your CAD model with little or no regard for how they’re created. This is consistent with the preparatory steps required in an analysis session, where you’ll probably want to strip the 3D model down to its core geometric volume or mass.

When importing a 3D model in neutral format, such as IGES or STEP, SpaceClaim can reproduce its geometric structure as a catalog of solids and surfaces, which allows you to easily identify, isolate, and edit individual features.

SpaceClaim can read not only neutral formats but native CAD files produced in brand-name parametric packages, such as SolidWorks, Solid Edge, CATIA, and Inventor. The software’s Prepare tab gives you a host of model simplification tools to help you identify and fix problematic surface joints and splits before meshing. ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler and ANSYS Workbench keep bidirectional associativity, so changes made in one can be updated in another.

The new product from ANSYS could be a solution for manufacturers who routinely conduct FEA analysis on their product design but don’t want to invest in additional CAD seats devoted solely to post-analysis model preparation.

An Explicit-Analysis Partnership
Fig 2. ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler helps isolate potential problems in the model before meshing operation begins.

More Details about the New Product
Unlike the SpaceClaim CAD product sold by SpaceClaim, ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler is bundled with ANSYS Workbench, sold for approximately $2,000 to $5,000.

“We offer both paid-up and annual licenses,” explained Scott Gilmore, director of product management at ANSYS. “These are floating licenses that can be shared by multiple users within an organization, and they include the bi-directional, associative interface with ANSYS Workbench.”

ANSYS has in its portfolio a parametric CAD-editing product called ANSYS DesignModeler. “What ANSYS would not have without this partnership [with SpaceClaim] is the more advanced direct-modeling capabilities,” acknowledged Gilmore. “We’ve never looked at ourselves as a CAD provider. What we’re providing is applications that specifically focus on preparing models for simulation.”

ANSYS also offers geometry interfaces to major parametric CAD packages, such as Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, and Solid Edge. The company doesn’t plan to change this strategy.

(A video report of ANSYS SpaceClaim Direct Modeler is in the works. Meanwhile, read the SpaceClaim Engineer 2009 review to learn more about the product.)


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