Spatial Technology Inc.Boulder, Colo.3Dmodelserver.com

One of the biggest benefits of designing in CAD and creating 3-D models of parts and products is the ability to easily communicate and reuse those data in downstream engineering and manufacturing operations. However, not all of the CAD, engineering, and manufacturing applications are compatible, nor do they operate at the same level of precision. As a result, when reading complex 3-D models from one system into another, things can get lost in the translation. In a simple example, surfaces intersecting in one system may appear to have a gap read into a system less precise. In fact, a study by the Center for Economic Research, Research Triangle Park, N.C., revealed that the U.S. automobile industry alone spends more than $1 billion annually reworking or recreating 3-D CAD models to overcome interoperability problems. To enhance data maneuverability and facilitate interoperability between systems, Spatial Technology now offers powerful translation/healing capability as an application service provider at 3Dmodelserver.com. Designers and engineers can upload models to a secure, unique address at the site, where they are "healed" and translated to an appropriate output standard. "3Dmodelserver reads it in, fixes it up, puts out a report on how bad it was, how much was fixed, and gives back a higher quality model," says Michael Hanson, director of marketing. Anomalies that cannot be fixed or understood are flagged. "One of the biggest issues in data translation is actually finding the problems. This way engineers can focus on specific areas without having to look at the entire model." Operating 24/7, healing takes from 30 seconds to about 30 minutes, depending on part complexity. Users are charged only for improvements made. Current output standards include IGES and ACIS, with STEP and direct conversions into systems such as CATIA and Pro/ENGINEER on the horizon. John Teresko, John Sheridan, Tim Stevens, Doug Bartholomew, Patricia Panchak, Tonya Vinas, Samuel Greengard, Kristin Ohlson, and Barbara Schmitz contributed to this article.

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