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Delcam offers free CAD software for non-CAD specialists


Delcam’s PowerSHAPE-e allows people that normally don’t use CAD to review and comment on designs

Delcam has introduced free software, PowerSHAPE-e, that allows everyone involved in the product development process, especially those that are not CAD specialists, to view, experiment with and comment on CAD data throughout any project.  It can be downloaded from www.powershape-e.com.

During any product’s life cycle, there are a wide range of people that need to comment on, or take measurements from, CAD models.  In an ideal world, all these individuals would have a copy of the company’s chosen CAD system to do their work.  However, in reality, there are insufficient expert users of these systems to make this practical, even if the company could afford the cost of buying and maintaining enough software.  Furthermore, it would be difficult to manage the changes that could occur with so many users having the ability to adjust a design.  Great potential would exist for simultaneous different versions to be created of nominally the same design.

Delcam’s PowerSHAPE-e solves these problems by giving anyone involved in a project the ability to experiment with the product design.  However, these users can only save their changes locally.  They cannot make unauthorised alterations to the original master model but instead can only save marked-up comments or recommendations on the CAD file.  These suggestions can then be sent back to the designer, who retains control over the decision whether to implement the changes or not.

The software is ideal for people that do not normally use CAD systems, such as sales staff that need to discuss progress with the customer, or market researchers that need to get feedback from potential customers or retailers on new design proposals.  Users can experiment with unlimited different variants to improve the appearance or functionality of the design.  Once the suggested modifications are agreed, the model can be marked up with the changes requested to any dimensions.

Similarly, staff in manufacturing can suggest changes to improve productivity.  For example, in a company making plastic mouldings, manufacturing engineers might want to increase the draft angle on the part to make it easier to remove from the mould or they might want to increase a fillet radius to improve the flow of plastic within the mould.  Again, once the changes have been finalised, notes can be added to the CAD file explaining the alterations that have been requested and why they are necessary.

PowerSHAPE-e incorporates a wide range of easy-to-use surface and solid modelling functionality to modify imported models.  The software incorporates all the Delcam Exchange data translation options and so can read in files from all the main CAD systems, including CATIA, UG, Pro/Engineer, IDEAS, SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and Solid Edge, as well as neutral formats such as IGES and STEP.  It does not import the history of operations used to create the CAD file, so minimising the possibility of a modification to one part of the model producing an unexpected change in another area.

As manufacturing becomes more global, maintaining good communications within different departments and along the supply chain is a growing challenge.  Delcam believes that PowerSHAPE-e will speed and simplify the exchange of feedback on new design ideas.  By ensuring that the designer retains full control over any changes, PowerSHAPE-e will make it easier to manage modifications to the initial concept throughout the product development process.

PowerSHAPE-e should also make new product development more successful and more efficient.  More communication with potential customers should increase the likelihood that the new design will be received well by consumers.  Similarly, obtaining feedback from manufacturing staff earlier in the development process should help ensure that progress into full-scale production can proceed efficiently.  It should also avoid problems with designs that appear attractive at the concept stage but that are too difficult or too expensive to manufacture cost-effectively.

03 July 2007