Ever since Siemens released their teaser video on the “breakthrough” Synchronous Technology, I have been talking to a few CAD vendors, asking them what they think about the growing trend toward direct modeling.
Greg Milliken, CEO of Alibre, was kind enough to share his views with me. I asked him if Alibre was pursuing development of Direct Modeling techniques as well. He replied that they were and pointed out that version 10 of Alibre Design already had some direct editing capabilities. Indeed, it has. But I believe it needs to be improved to be considered comparable to the advanced technologies of SpaceClaim and Siemens. For example, if you push a fillet to into a solid, the adjacent faces remain as they are and you end up with a jagged fillet. However, I am pretty sure Alibre Design 11 will have far more improved and sophisticated direct editing capabilities.
According to Greg, “We consider it [Direct Editing] a “feature” though rather than a product and believe the future is in hybrid systems with both parametric and direct editing capabilities. The folks at SpaceClaim, Kubotek and CoCreate/PTC staked too much in one approach and I feel over time they will basically lose any differentiation as all parametric, history-based products adopt direct editing toolsets.”
Now thats an interesting way to look at it. Actually, I am of the opinion that the opposite may happen. As feature recognition technologies improve to a point that they can capture design intent, Parametrics may lose out to Direct Editing. For example, currently in SpaceClaim, if open a dumb solid model of a flange having 8 holes of equal radius, SpaceClaim does not recognize that those holes are actually a polar array. If you pick one of the holes and increase their radius, the rest remain as they are. If will be only a matter of time when SpaceClaim and other Direct Editing software will be able to recognize the holes as a polar array and treat them as such. I am not sure whether the Synchronous Technology from Siemens is already close to doing this.
Greg had something quite interesting to say regarding a post on this blog, “Regarding a comment in your blog titled ‘SpaceClaim Reacts to Synchronous Technology,’ in my opinion, contrary to this adding a zero to SpaceClaim’s value, I think it decreases their value significantly since Siemens announcement, our addition of direct editing capabilities, and essentially all other vendors doing the same, or imminently planning to, means they have little to differentiate themselves technologically that can’t be replicated by most vendors in a relatively short period of time.”
Fascinating!! So if Greg is right (and he very well may be) then all the noise about SpaceClaim being eventually bought out by Autodesk or SolidWorks may very well come to an end. If the venture capitalists funding SpaceClaim didn’t sell earlier, there is probably no reason why they would sell now.
We are living in interesting times.