Delcam has introduced a free CAD viewer, PowerSHAPE-e, that can enable everyone involved in the product development process to view, and comment on, CAD data throughout any project.
The software is intended mainly 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. However, it can also be used to supply preliminary data to sub-contractors so they can start work on quotations before the design has been finalised.
All models can be password-protected to prevent any unauthorised export of the data. This extra security ensures that any design sent out to sub-contractors for manufacturing quotes cannot find its way onto the market until a quote is approved. At that point, the password can be released to the approved supplier only, so enabling manufacture to begin.
The PowerSHAPE-e download incorporates Delcam's PS-Exchange data translation software 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. Once imported, the models can be marked up with any comments or suggestions.
For CAD users, the viewer incorporates a wide range of surface and solid modelling functionality. Users can experiment with different design variants, whether these are intended to improve the appearance or style of the design, or are suggestions to simplify its manufacture. Once the changes have been finalised, notes can be added explaining what alterations have been made and why.
Model compare functionality is included so that any changes to the model can be identified and highlighted quickly at all stages of the product's development. This helps ensure that everyone involved with the project is using the most recent design data. It also makes it easier for managers to check that their recommended alterations have been incorporated into the design in the way that they intended.
As manufacturing becomes more global, good communications along the supply chain are a growing challenge. Developments like e-mail and Internet telephony have made long-distance communication much easier. Delcam hopes that its new viewer will further speed and simplify the exchange of design ideas and modifications.
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 sub-contractors earlier in the development process should help ensure that progress from design to manufacture 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.
SOURCE: Delcam plc