One of the big benefits of CAD/CAM technology is reusability of data. However, in order for a 3D solid CAD model to serve its purpose as a master model for any downstream users, be they analysis or manufacturing operations, the model must be geometrically correct. In addition it should adhere to company drafting and design standards and solid-modeler design practices, as well as be compatible with company manufacturing capabilities. Where these standards are not being met, the design department needs to understand why not and take measures to change the process. To assist design-function management in seeing all of these conditions are met on a consistent basis, Prescient Technologies Inc., Boston, Mass., introduced DesignQA version 3.0 engineering model checking software. "DesignQA helps assure the features of the product model and the content of the product model are sufficient to contain the full definition of the engineering product," says Tom Mignosa, vice president of product marketing. "This means a full definition that the rest of the organization can use to leverage the CAD/CAM and solid-modeling technology." Geometry checking is accomplished once the solid model is complete by an optional module from Software Factory that is integrated into DesignQA. This checks mathematical accuracy of the model, including gaps, slivers, or edge overlaps; checks tangent discontinuities; or does a volume turn in on itself. "It is checking whether the geometry in the model can be transferred to other geometry-based engines (FEA, NC programs)," says Mignosa. "It's a question of data exchange, rather than solid model quality," To evaluate model quality, standards can be checked in real time as the model is being conceived, with errors flagged and automatic corrective actions or design advice accessed via the Web browser interface. "We talk of three levels of engineering model quality review with Design QA," says Mignosa. "Drafting checking, where we check the drawing, line fonts, spelling; this is very rudimentary. Modeling checking, which tells how well you are using the CAD tool. The third level is engineering design-quality standards. For instance, if you are designing a part from a particular material and are going to manufacture it with a specific technique, is the feature size you are designing in appropriate for that material and technique?" Engineering and design standards themselves, as well as some of the corrective actions, are built into the DesignQA database by the CAD program administrator. When some triggering event occurs, the solution then provides immediate feedback on what is happening and what action to take. "It watches what you are doing, and jumps in as you are going along," says Mignosa. "It plays an active role in the design rather than just reviewing it when it is complete." Other corrective actions and suggestions are accessed by hot links into user-owned training programs specific to the CAD program running. When corrections are required, these can be initiated from the Web browser, which then drives the CAD operation. In other words, "Many modeling problems can be resolved by the package, without user intervention," says Mignosa. For an enterprise view, DesignQA has the capability to roll up the design process of all engineers using the program to identify which standards are being met and which are being violated. This gives design management the opportunity to fine-tune its design process via training, rather than simply solving problems for one individual model. Lucent Technologies, for instance, applies DesignQA to spread design rules across all design functions in the company. "We have certain standards we want Lucent-wide as they apply to ProEngineer," says Calvin Ying, applications engineer, Lucent Technologies, Holmdel, N.J. "Things like model creation in terms of certain parameters, layering schemes, and buried features. So we created 18 design rules and are deploying them across the company with DesignQA. It forces standardization and reuse." While DesignQA is currently only available for ProEngineer and CATIA platforms, Prescient's plans are to support Unigraphics and SDRC Master Series platforms in the near future.