Look out people, there’s a new breed of CAD in town and it might make you slightly more social. Last week Dassualt Systèmes formally launched their V6 Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform that includes CATIA, ENOVIA, DELMIA, SUMULIA and 3DVIA.

If you don’t use CATIA, you probably don’t care too much. However, this release has huge implications for how CAD programs like SolidWorks, SpaceClaim and even the competing Siemens PLM and Synchronous Technology are going to develop over the coming years.

Better Collaboration
Where Web2.0 socializes and bring collaboration to the internet, Dassualt’s PLM2.0 hopes to do the same for product design. That’s cool, we all know how hard it is to go through the process of designing, engineering and manufacturing products when information is needed and everyone is not aware of what’s going on. “So what?” – you might think. “V6 just looks like one more product version that adds some interaction between people – just email everyone some PDFs and save some cash.” Maybe, but what lies underneath is the real news.

This changes CAD
V6 is built on the MatrixOne Kernel that uses Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the Extensible Markup Language (XML) data structure. Now what does that mean? MatrixOne is like a CD player, ENOVIA is like the controls, CATIA and the rest are like CD’s. All these products use to be CD’s that needed their own separate CD player. Now, they all use the same player. But, that’s not quite all there is.

Picture the MatrixOne Kernel more like a MP3 player. The XML format is like MP3 format that plays on any player. With the XML format, you now have data that can be used within different programs as easily as MP3’s are accessed online. What Dassualt has released is a single platform that has transformed each aspect of design into a single destination for you and others to access the life of the product.

Could this affect SolidWorks?
Now, if you had other programs that didn’t work with your CD player, for instance SolidWorks or IceM, wouldn’t you want them to all play on the same system? Up till now, it’s been acceptable that CAD programs run independently, even if using the same kernel. My bet is that SolidWorks drops parasolids, owned by competing Siemens, to develop capabilities and interoperability within the other Dassault product lines. Why would they not want to do this?

3D for consumers
Will PLM2.0 really reach all the way to the consumer level? I’m not sure. If the entire buying experience is online, which in some cases it is, I can see how the consumer feedback, buying trends, meta-data and site searches could be part of how a product is developed. But the way I interact with a product online in a virtual environment is, for the time, going to be different with how I interact with a product in the natural environment.

I don’t know if many people realize what Dassault has changed in the PLM and CAD world. What do you think though? Is this going to change the face of CAD?


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.