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How to manage CAD software data integrity

Guide to managing CAD software data integrity

Every company has a story as to how its CAD software of choice came to be. For some it was decided through an intentional purchasing process, and for others it was determined by assessing individual team needs, specialty workflows or the result of acquisition. At the end of the day, the goal is to equip your employees with CAD software that can accelerate your design and manufacturing process. In this white paper we will explain how CAD data affects portability between CAD software packages and identify the best software solution for solving mixed CAD environments.

Solving the CAD data formatting problem

CAD data files are built on layers of technology. The most fundamental layer is the CAD kernel, which you can think of as the geometry engine. The program interface feeds the kernel instructions, and the kernel produces geometry. There are many geometry kernels in existence, but only a handful are in broad commercial use. The big players are Siemens (including Solid Edge and NX) and SOLIDWORKS using the Parasolid kernel (owned by Siemens), PTC using their own Granite kernel, and Dassault Systèmes' CATIA and 3DEXPERIENCE with the CGM kernel. Dassault Systèmes also owns the ACIS kernel. Autodesk uses the ShapeManager kernel, which is derived from ACIS.

The second layer of the CAD file is proprietary. Each CAD vendor has developed its own proprietary file format with its own file extension. For example, SOLIDWORKS uses the *.sldprt extension, and Solid Edge uses *.par. The proprietary part of the file includes many things, the most important being the parametric record of how the geometry is built—commonly referred to as the feature tree. We think of this as the intelligence in the CAD file, and it is not shared between types and is not transmitted in a data translation.

Because CAD data is structured with the two layers mentioned above, translation always strips away the parametric intelligence from the geometry.

Synchronous technology saves parametric intelligence

The intelligence of parametrics is lost in translation because there is no way to share the kind of information that is stored in the proprietary file formats. But what would happen if the parametric intelligence was in the program itself rather than in the proprietary data? In that case, translating the geometry would be all that is necessary because the software would have the intelligence to make changes possible.

Siemens Digital Industries Software, has solved this problem with an innovation called Synchronous Technology. Synchronous Technology reads the geometry and finds, maintains and allows you to control the geometric relationships and dimensions. Synchronous Technology allows the geometric model to respond to dimensional and relational changes without the information from the feature tree. You can use equations, patterns and all other types of what we think of as parametric controls. This is the most significant advantage of Synchronous Technology when applied to imported geometry. What would have turned into “dumb geometry” stays smart.

Download our free white paper to learn more about this technology.