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CATIA V5 Ramps Up Third-party Applications

excerpted from  

September 29, 2003

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The 12th release of CATIA version five contains hundreds of worthwhile improvements. The most startling news, however, is the explosion of third-party applications accompanying the release. Dassault Systèmes added 55 new programs to the CATIA Application Architecture for V5 roster. This 74 percent increase brings the total to 129.

A couple of factors appear to be contributing to the rise. The first is that some companies, such as LMS International, are rolling out multiple products built around a common core. LMS accounted for 35 of the 55 new CATIA application programs, including relatively specialized products such as the Seam Weld Modeling and ABAQUS Interfaces for Virtual.Lab. Another nine applications come from Hitachi Zosen.

A second factor is that Spatial, Inc., the Dassault Systèmes subsidiary responsible for the ACIS solid-modeling kernel, now also handles the CAA for V5 tools. Spatial has extensive experience selling tools to software developers and has signed up 31 new CAA partners for V5 since May of 2002. Hitachi is a Spatial customer.

Unfinished business

Most of V5 release 12 continues to fulfill commitments made previously. Dassault Systèmes announced a product based on ImpactXoft’s technology. Named Functional Molded Parts, the new software costs $3,000 and must be used in conjunction with the Mechanical Design 1 bundle that by itself lists for $8,900. Dassault Systèmes representatives said the new product doesn’t incorporate all the functional modeling capabilities of ImpactXoft’s own product, IX Design, and that users can expect more capabilities to be added in V5 release 13.

Another new module aimed at the lower end of the CATIA pricing spectrum is Developed Shapes 1. This software converts ruled and other specific types of surfaces into flat patterns. It works with metal or cloth materials.

The new Developed Shapes 1 application for CATIA V5 R12 lets designers create flat patterns of shapes that are not made with brake press and punch operations. (Click on image to enlarge)

Core improvements

Release 12 includes many refinements of the basic modeling, drafting, and rendering capabilities of CATIA V5. Dassault Systèmes claims that memory requirements for large assemblies have been reduced 20 percent by selectively loading only the geometry needed for display. By projecting drawing views from faceted geometry, CATIA developers have reduced by factors of 10 to 100 the time needed to make what Dassault calls “approximate quality” drawings. Integration with the Enovia PDM software has been enhanced to permit lighter- weight models to be called up from the Enovia vault more quickly.

Release 12 also has improved what is commonly called “direct modeling.” This capability, which is well developed in EDS’ Unigraphics CAD software, enables designers to move or replace part faces and plug holes without employing dimension-driven features. Improvements in what Dassault calls “tolerant modeling” enables designers to fix problems that heretofore would have produced error messages. For example, when sweeping a profile along a path with high curvature, some surfaces of the feature may intersect themselves. Release 12 will compute part of the surface (up to the self-intersection) leaving a hole where it can’t figure out what to do. The designer can then complete the shape by adding additional surfaces.

Dassault has improved its drafting product to the point where it now considers it “mature.” Among the improvements in release 12 is the ability to dimension to theoretical intersection points instead of part edges or arc centers. Release 12 drafting applications also have new ways to distinguish among overlapping objects when the drafter tries to select them.

The Real Time Rendering applications of release 12 now take advantage of the dynamic shading capabilities Nvidia’s Quadro FX graphics adapters. The release 12 Photo Studio Optimizer also simulates an effect first observed by the 19th-century French physicist Augustin Fresnel. When light strikes a transparent surface at a low angle of incidence, it is reflected, but if the angle of incidence is high (i.e. more nearly perpendicular to the surface) the light passes through, making the object appear transparent. The effect of this improvement is to make transparent objects rendered with the Photo Studio Optimizer more lifelike.


  • Specialty Applications
  • NC Milling
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • What does it all mean?
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The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet.

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