The Geometry Kernel and What it Means to Product Development

There certainly has been much talk about the CAD geometry kernel in the last few years. Much of this talk comes from the rumors around Dassault Systems changing the SolidWorks kernel. I think it is clear now that Dassault has no plans to change the SolidWorks kernel, but rather is developing a new product on the Dassault kernel.

So what's the big deal about the geometry kernel anyway? Why do we even care about what kernel is under the covers of our favorite CAD tool? Should we care about it? Do you know how the geometry kernel can impact your ability to be effective in the design of your products? Strangely, the answer to these questions depends on many factors.

I know I am going to over simplify this, but here it goes anyway. In its purest form the CAD kernel is a geometry engine. It takes instructions, processes the instructions, and delivers results. The results are typically in the form of geometry. Every geometry kernel on the market can be unique in many different ways.

The ins…

Model-Based Engineering – Are We There Yet? (Part II)

Part II    (Part I)

I've had many opportunities to conduct product development process assessments at some very large companies. In one such case I visited 4 or 5 different facilities scattered around the US. Interviews consisted of about 70 or 80 different people; VP's, Directors, Managers, and key contributors to the process. When I conduct these assessments I pay close attention to the input and output of each stage in the process. The output from one stage is of course the input to the next stage – in some form or another. Or, of course, that’s the way it should work. Then I like to look at the individual activities, methods and tools used to support that particular stage of the process, also noting where and how data is managed as it flows through the process stage.

During this particular assessment we identified over one hundred different software tools that were being used in the development and manufacture of their products. This includes authoring tools, analyzing to…

Model-Based Engineering, Are We There Yet?

  Part I

As I‘ve mentioned before in several other posts, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many design and manufacturing companies over the last 20 or so years, sometimes several per month. With some of these visits I even get the pleasure of conducting full product development process assessments. With these assessments I get a first-hand detailed view of how companies design products, from requirements to manufacturing. I also get a glimpse of what their vision might be for the future of their design processes and where they see high-value opportunities in process improvement.
In a previous blog post from 2009 titled “Model Based Definition(MBD) – What’s the Hold-Up?” I gave my early views on the topic and asked my readers a few questions. It is still the most read article on my blog. Interest in this topic remains very high.There is one consistency I find with any discussion I have regarding “Model-Based” and that is that everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means.  Do…

History-Based Modeling and Direct Editing

Most all parametric history-based CAD tools on the market now have some level of direct geometry editing capabilities. Without direct editing, users of history-based CAD tools can only edit preexisting information captured in the structure tree during model creation. Information like sketches, 2D constraints on the sketch, 3D feature parameters and feature order. To make these edits, it is important for users to have some level of knowledge about the structure tree and the process and methods used in the creation of the structure and resulting model. In the case of imported models, this information is typically not available and as such the imported model may not be editable, with the exception of adding new features to it. In the earlier days we tried to recognize features in imported models to develop an editable feature tree, but that typically only worked on relatively simple models. In other cases we tried feature tree translators. There are several companies that provide these t…

Parametric Direct Modeling

I continue to enjoy seeing what is possible with history-free direct modeling when coupled with a synchronous parametric solver; i.e. Parametric Direct Modeling – or whatever you want to call it. This is the truest form of uniting the control of parametric modeling with the flexibility of direct, or explicit, modeling. If, on the other hand, the modeling process is the basis of your design intent, as is the case with history-based modeling, then you are forced to plan ahead before modeling. This firm coupling of the modeling process with the definition of design intent can greatly inhibit flexibility.

When adding direct editing technology to a traditional history-based parametric modeling tool, you still end up with a structured and ordered model. The direct edits are just another form of a “parametric modeling feature”. They, of course can be very powerful and useful in the right context and I'll discuss this in a future post.

By combining parametric control with direct modeling …

Geometry Simplification Using Direct Modeling

There seems to be a growing need for part and assembly geometry simplification. There are many reasons for this. Many times designers need to simplify a part to prepare it for the meshing process and final analysis. In other cases manufactures are more often now being asked for the 3D models of the products they produce as they may be a component or system used in a larger system. In this case they not only have the need to reduce the actual file size of the data, but also want to protect valuable intellectual property (IP). In other cases perhaps you are on the receiving end of purchased components or systems and just need to have  simplified compact representations of the data to reduce overloading your assemblies with unnecessary detail and data. Whatever the case, the need is growing.

One of the best tools to use for this simplification process is direct modeling. There are two key reasons for this. 1) It allows for the direct interaction with the geometry and is not dependant on…

Another Fun Project

I first want to apologize to my readers for not blogging more lately. There are two reasons for this. 1) PTC is keeping me way too busy lately and, 2) much of my personal time has been spent on finishing up the following project.

It all started about 10 years ago when my son and I agreed to purchase a fixer-upper car to work together on as a project. I let him pick the car. He eventually settled on a 2nd generation Camaro (1970 to 1973). This is the one we ended up with. It’s a 1973 Type LT, 350, turbo 400 automatic transmission. It was drivable when we bought it and my son used it to get to and from high-school until he ran out of gas money. This is the picture from the EBay ad where we found it.

Over the course of many years we started restoring various parts of the car. Here are a few pictures that represent some of the work:

Every piece of sheet metal on this car has been refinished, and we did it all ourselves with the exception of the sub-frame powder coat and the final external…