What do banjos have to do with the 7th release of SpaceClaim’s namesake product? Only everything. You can model a banjo in SpaceClaim, 4 of 5 bluegrass groups recommend SpaceClaim (unofficially), and Blake Courter, cofounder of SpaceClaim, who gave us a demo of 2011 and it’s multi-touch capabilities, plays the banjo (proof at the end of the post.)

Enough said? I think so. This version of SpaceClaim, above all, shows how the program has matured and where they’re concentrating the updates. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll see and most likely value in, what some would call, the reigning king of direct modeling development.


The token marketing screensheet of SpaceClaim 2011, ready for your eyes to absorb. (Click to enlarge)
The token marketing screensheet of SpaceClaim 2011, ready for your eyes to absorb. (Click to enlarge)

As you can see in the new feature list below, there are quite a few finger-pickin’ features to thumb and strum through. Top features which stood out to me in SpaceClaim 2011 are increased functionality for sheet metal and more options for surfacing. The amount of sheet metal tools has greatly expanded. The interesting part of this is that they’re not just throwing them in. They’re working with one of their large customers, TRUMPF, to really nail down sheet metal workflow and functionality. SpaceClaim 2011 also adds surfacing updates that allow you to control the shape of surfaces better whether using profiles or profiles with guide curves.

You’ll also find .stl imports easier to work in with a new mesh snapping options. In SpaceClaim, .stl files come in as a mesh. For simple models, you can recreate the solid, snapping to mesh points and using them as constraints to create a model which can use the direct dimensioning and editing functionality of SpaceClaim. Really, we just need to stop working with .stl to avoid ever having to do this, ever. Still, a neat little feature.

SpaceClaim can import parts and with the new modeling features, you can quickly create solids of the mesh.
SpaceClaim can import parts and with the new modeling features, you can quickly create solids of the mesh.

Beyond this, you’re getting a lot more interoperability with other 3D modeling programs. This is SpaceClaim’s claim to fame, for the single reason that all of this format support makes working with others who use different modeling software, much easier. While I’ve not worked in large assemblies with SpaceClaim, you now also have the ability to make components lightweight (not load into memory) and with this, as you can imagine with the massive boat in the marketing shot above, improved performance.

SpaceClaim 2011 now allows you to load components lightweight. (Click to Enlarge)
SpaceClaim 2011 now allows you to load components lightweight. (Click to Enlarge)

Conclusion

SpaceClaim is rounding out the edges of its main product, SpaceClaim Engineer. (SpaceClaim Style, aimed at Industrial Designers, has been discontinued.) Ultimately, I wish the CAD developers would all get together and combine the resources they’re putting into direct modeling development. In a sense they are with everyone watching the other, picking out the good, adjust the rest to their standard and understanding of how geometry should be manipulated.

SpaceClaim falls into a niche of product design. As a fellow blogger commented to me, it would be devaluing to SpaceClaim to say it’s a complementary modeling system to SolidWorks, Pro/E, Solid Edge, Inventor or any of the other primarily feature-based modeling programs… even though it is, and does very well in this regard.

Where SpaceClaim is going to standout though, is in a company where the conceptual requirement planning and the initial stages of engineering can be controlled against the detailed design phase and production. Many times these all fall outside the control of the other and a inefficient system of product development follows. In turn however, SpaceClaim has the advantage of bringing a mindset of lean development to the design process. What am I getting at? SpaceClaim has become a valuable modeling tool that stands on it’s own. SpaceClaim 2011 makes this much more evident.

More on SpaceClaim 2011

View the video of What’s New in SpaceClaim 2011
Deelip’s coverage of SpaceClaim 2011

Banjo Blake

Here’s proof. Blake playing banjo in the dizzying aether of the Burning Man festival.

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.