Category "Digital Engineering"

Laws are very useful when it comes to wanting to control something that has a known variance in it.  For example, if I were a designer and needed a linear surface that begins at one angle at one end of the guide curve and ends with a different angle. Without the ability to do this, you would have to create two surfaces and do some sort of transition surface in between them. In this video below, I will run a linear surface using a simple law on the angle value to take it from 15 degrees and one end to 45 degrees at the other end.

In this case I used a linear style law, and as you see, when I looked at the surface from a plan view (from above) the angle direction was linear from the 15 deg to the 45 deg.  Below, I will show what would have happened if I had done it as an “S Type” law by modifying the law.

In the image below you can see them if they are overlayed over each other. The surface highlighted is the S Type law and as you can see it definitely has an “S” shape for the transition in between the 2 knows angles.

Both Law Types

Both Law Types

You’re probably thinking, “What if I wanted a specific angle somewhere in the middle of the transition?” This gets a little trickier. In that case you would use an Advanced Law.

In order to used the advanced type law, you have to first develop it.  The easiest way I have found to do this is with a sketch.  In the example below, I am showing what the sketch would look like for the original linear law. […]

In today’s engineering environment, there are a plethora of design tools available. One question I often hear is “Why CATIA?” It’s a question that seems simple enough, but the answer is much more complex. CATIA generally involved a greater initial investment, but in terms of overall design cost, you may be surprised to learn that a CATIA license can be a real bargain.

Ask: “What are we trying to accomplish?”

What type of design work are you doing? Do you require the ability to create complex surfaces? Are you going to create a small number of models and small assemblies or will there be a large number of models and large assemblies? Are you sharing the models with customers or vendors? Do you start every design from scratch or reuse as much data as possible?

The list of questions above is certainly not complete, but you can see by the number of questions already posited, the answer is multifaceted.

Complex Surfacing

Let’s look at the creation of complex surfaces. Many CAD systems can create surfaces of some level, but what if your company needs to create complex shapes? Look at how many CAD systems can create complex surfaces, and the list gets shorter – much shorter. Next, how many systems can modify complex surfaces? One example of this is the actual morphing of a complex surface. One might use this ability to compensate for springback in a metal stamping or counteract warpage in a plastic part. Now the list is much shorter. CATIA can easily handle these operations.


Large Assemblies

Next let’s look at large assemblies – something on the order of 500-1,000+ models. While virtually all systems can create assemblies, what happens when these assemblies get very large? Can the system handle them? How are you going to manage these assemblies? Is the system still able to operate or has its performance degraded to the point that it is virtually unusable? CATIA can handle very large assemblies, entire automobiles, aircraft, ships, etc. With CATIA V6 the management of these models is OOTB. Again the list is short at this point.

Data Reuse

Lastly, let’s look at data reuse. […]

With globalization and distributed product development, adhering to a single CAD tool for the globally dispersed design teams and suppliers has become practically difficult. Business dynamics like mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, and flexible supplier selections based on direct material sourcing processes can also present a multi-CAD scenario to companies. In such scenarios, if the PLM tool isn’t capable of supporting multi-CAD, that can limit the overall engineering business flexibility of companies. It can either force them to take up costly, error-prone, risky, and time-consuming CAD platform migrations OR the global teams continue to work in isolation using a variety of different CAD tools, data, and processes. During that period, each design group generates and stores design data independently, lacking mechanisms to work as an integrated whole. Time-consuming and error-prone processes for finding and managing CAD data and assembling release packages cause design decisions to be often based on incorrect/out-of-date information. This results in design delays, as users can’t see each other’s design changes immediately, and inconsistent adherence to changes and approval processes.

Teamcenter, with its ability to manage more than one CAD system on the same platform, helps companies to mitigate both present and future multi-CAD challenges. It has out of the box integration to all major commercial MCAD tools like NX, Solid Edge, CATIA, SolidWorks, ProEngineer/Creo, Inventor and AutoCAD. Teamcenter’s CAD integration and data management capabilities are very rich, including embedded TC ribbon, standalone TC integrated CAD tool launch, advanced search, update/save to TC, update/synchronize data being worked on by others, change impact analysis, initiate changes, and save revisions – all directly from CAD without the need to open the Teamcenter application. Along with these functionalities, Teamcenter’s 4-tier architecture, optimized for high latency environments, multi-site, security and supplier integration solutions, helps global engineering teams to operate and collaborate at different levels of business integration, from a tightly integrated process mode to a loosely coupled on demand mode.multi_cad

In a multi-CAD environment, design groups receive designs from other teams and/or suppliers, created using different CAD tools. They have difficulty in aggregating CAD data from multiple CAD sources to visualize and analyze assemblies. Also, BOM structures aren’t adequately connected to visual content for Digital Mock-Up. This lack of connection undermines the timeliness and quality of decision making, and forces them to spend time and cost to aggregate, review, and validate designs and design changes. So it is key to enable designers to visualize and analyze product data from different CAD systems and conduct design collaboration reviews across geographically distributed sites. Teamcenter, with its industry leading visualization capabilities, provides the ability to visualize multi-CAD in a neutral JT format and then simulate various assembly modes for downstream engineering, manufacturing and service processes.

All of this leads to:

  • Improved productivity: Enable design teams and suppliers to use the tools they are most familiar with and use/reuse component designs created by other teams/suppliers on other MCAD systems
  • Accelerated product development: Find the right design information quickly; structured workflows enable development groups to work together as a single entity irrespective of location.
  • Increased quality: Find the right data and understand the dependencies to intelligently assess the impact of changes
  • Reduced costs: Modify and share component designs created by other teams/suppliers on your preferred CAD systems and incorporate it into multi-CAD assemblies or product design

Do you have any thoughts to add? Questions on how Teamcenter might apply to your design environment? Leave a comment and let’s chat.

When I think of the countless customers I have consulted with over the years, it amazes me how many don’t use parameters to control the design and capture design intent! What is a parameter, you ask?  A parameter can be thought of in two ways when it comes to CATIA V5. Parameters are built the moment you start a new part – as you can see in the image below, we already have parameters for the Part Number, Nomenclature, Revision, Product Description, and Definition created automatically. Parameters are being created each time you build any feature.  These types of parameters are known as system parameters.


You can and should build your own parameters to define your design intent. It’s every bit as important during the initial stages of a design to define your intent this way as it is to make sure sketches are constrained properly. In fact, it helps you in your sketch constraints (every constraint is a feature that has parameters associated to it). In this simple example of a piece of standard rectangular tubing shown below, there are constraints defining the height, width, wall thickness, and radii. Even though this is very easy to create, if I am a designer I would want to design it in such a way that I never have to waste any time designing a piece of rectangular tubing again. If I am a design leader, I feel the same and don’t want any of my designers doing this again in any design that involves any piece of rectangular tubing. The use of parameters will get us there!



The parameters I am talking about are user defined parameters. Simple to create but very, very powerful in their functionality.  The simplest way to create a user defined parameter in CATIA V5 is through the fx icon found on the Knowledge toolbar.


You might be thinking, where have I seen that icon before? Oh yeah, in Excel when I need to create a formula for my cell. That is the point we are making here! In Excel, I use this function to compute things for me and make it easy to come up with a desired result.  In CATIA, we will create some parameters and then, when necessary, assign formulas to them to come up with our desired result.  When you click on the icon, you get the Formulas dialog and when you click on the drop down list next to the New Parameter of Type button, you can see you have many, many options.



When I first started in the Design and Engineering field, CAD was used primarily by large OEMs and some large suppliers. Most companies’ design work was done on drafting boards with vellum and pencils, or Mylar and ink.


As the technology evolved, CAD became more affordable, and increasingly necessary if one wanted to do business with certain OEMs. But while the design work was being done in CAD, the official documents were still paper – actual paper, created in CAD, printed, signed off by hand and distributed through the purchasing departments.


Eventually the paper gave way to PDF files for distribution, at least from the OEM; most companies still used paper (some still do!) internally to manufacture and inspect their products. They still create, release, and distribute 2D drawings and balloon the drawings for inspection purposes.


Technology has reached the point where a 2D drawing is really no longer necessary for the manufacture of a part or assembly, yet many companies still create them, even if the OEM does not provide one. Typically, the 3D model is used for fabrication, unless it is being done by hand. The creation, release, storage, and distribution of 2D drawings is huge. I am sure if companies actually looked at what it is costing them they would be shocked.

Some OEMs and other companies have an electronic way to handle the storage and distribution portion which is huge but the creation unless automated is still quite costly. Then there is the interpretation of the 2D drawings which can lead to quality problems, which we know is very costly.
There is a better way. […]

Tangent Select1Autodesk Inventor now includes a new selection filter.  It can be accessed the same way as many of the other selection filters using the “right-click” Tangent Select3menu in Inventor.  Let’s look at an example and the associated steps and results:

  1. Set “Faces and Edges” as your selection filter.  This is typically the default while editing individual components.
  2. Select a face, right click, and pick “Select Tangencies.”
  3. Perform an operation (such as changing color) to all the faces at the same time.


Use the selection set of tangent faces to:

  • Delete the selection set with Delete Faces.
  • Assign an appearance to the selection set.
  • Add or remove thickness to faces, or create an offset surface from a part face with the Thicken/Offset command.
  • Copy a set of faces from one component to another (handy for tooling development)

The “Select Tangencies” option can also be used to select a continuous set of tangent edges on a component.

Use the selection set of tangent edges to:

  • Fillet or chamfer the preselected edges.
  • Review or check for tangency conditions or closed loops.

We’ve been communicating regularly that Autodesk is phasing out perpetual licenses of the Design & Creation Suite as well as individual products and as a friendly reminder, today is the last day you have the option to purchase perpetual licenses.  Beginning August 1st, Autodesk will introduce three new packages under the new industry collections umbrella: Product Design; Media & Entertainment; and Architecture, Engineering & Construction. Check out this sneak peek of what is to come:

Why the changes?
The goal of the change is to enhance the user experience in the following ways:

  • Simplified Offerings – All of your most essential software tools are in one of three collections.  There are no more tiers or multiple suites to choose from. It’s simple…just pick the collection that fits your industry.
  • Ongoing Improvement – Industry collections are built to adapt and continuously evolve so that you get access to new applications as well as cloud services and improved workflows regularly, not just once a year with a new release.  Basically you get the new technology when it’s ready!
  • More Cloud Services – You get the power of the cloud in industry collections. You’ll gain access to more cloud services than what’s currently available in the Design & Creation suites as well as allow shared access to cloud services with other users.
  • Greater Value – You get more bang for your buck with industry collections.  You gain access to more software for a very competitive price point.
  • More Options – Today, subscriptions to the Design & Creation suites are available for single-user access only but with the new Industry Collections, you will have the option for single-user and multi-user access.  You can also choose the term lengths so you can make decisions based on your business needs.

If you have questions or just want to discuss your options, reply in the comments section or reach us here.  You can also call our sales line at 877-668-8282.


Getting a job done right requires vision, experience, and the right tools. In product design – especially initial product styling, where the look and feel of a product is flushed out – this often comes down to a creative and trained resource utilizing a collection of tools including hand sketches, preliminary form models from direct edit CAD programs, initial parametric models describing functional form, and advanced surfacing techniques to finalize the details.

Needless to say, the process can be cumbersome, requiring files from various systems be translated, and the overall time it requires can preclude a designer from trying multiple variations they might envision, in order to meet deadlines. Just as in every other downstream aspect of product design, finding processes, training, and or tools that allow us to cut overall design time gives us options and advantages that directly impact our bottom line.

In NX 9, Siemens introduced another great tool, NX Realize Shape, giving us a new sub-division modeling approach aimed at creating complex organic shapes (solids and surfaces) in an intuitive straightforward manner, without having to be a high-level surfacing expert.


What is Subdivision modeling? It is a method of creating complex 3D models that originated in the entertainment industry as a facet-based technology, where it was used to create environments and characters by studios such as Pixar. More recently, Siemens has implemented and updated the technology to produce NURBS output surfaces, meaning the solids and sheets created are not only of high quality, but they are now associative, editable, and suited for use by all downstream consumers of CAD data.

The basic workflow is that you use primitive shapes to begin with, such as a sphere, block, or cylinder, and NX builds a control cage around it. This cage, when manipulated, pulls vertices and edges of the geometry it is connected to. You can then subdivide polygonal elements of that primitive into further polygons. This creates greater control and refinement over the shapes details. The primitive is pushed, pulled, rotated and scaled into shape using intuitive onscreen inputs with instant shape feedback, allowing for optimal control sculpting the shape.


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