Go ahead, open the fridge. What do you see beside the fruit salad? A fresh bottle of SpaceClaim 2010. It’s fizzy and brimming with all sort of new features that make 3D product developers say things like, “refreshing!” and “titillating!” but mostly, “I’m so excited, I’ve torn my eyebrows off my face!”

Yesterday, SpaceClaim launched the 2010 version of the history-free 3D modeler and we’re gonna give you a look at the new caffeine-rich, direct modeling features and functionality. They’re serious about a few things this time around – sheet metal, assembly conditions and volume simulation, among bits of other features. It can be wrapped up in one, single beam of highly focused energy… they are all features users are asking for.

It’s giving the major 3D modeling programs a run for the money. In fact, with this release, I’d go as far as to say that SpaceClaim is now one of the major 3D modeling programs and they’re still pushing the envelope of direct modeling technology. How? Let’s have a look.

The SpaceClaim 2010 new feature rundown

Some of the new features you’ll see in SpaceClaim 2010:

  • New mechanism placement conditions
    Ball Joints, Gears, Tangency, Rigid body, Fixed
  • 3D Sketching
    Points, Lines, Splines
  • Sheet Metal Enhancements
    New sheet metal tab
    Form features and library
    Cross-section based creation
    Bend flat patterns to 3D sheet metal
    Lightweight patterns
    Engraved cutout notes
  • Simulation preparation
    Body Volume power select
    Improved extend tool
  • Interoperability
    On-the-fly lightweight import
  • Detailing
    New customizable symbols library
    Modular grid coordinate system for automotive and aerospace applications.
  • API
    Custom tools, objects

That’s a lot to cover, so we’ll knock out a few of the major ones that are really interesting and leave the rest for your mind to lapse into a cosmic wonder about. The features we cover also happen to be the only ones we have screenshots of which provides you all the rights to jab the screen with your nubs when you bring this up to show your friends. Here we go.

Assembly Conditions

There’s one things assemblies need to be able to do. Move. If you can’t simulate movement, assemblies are nearly useless. Over the past few years, SpaceClaim has increasingly been used for conceptual product development by everyone from Sales Engineers to Industrial Designers and Manufacturing teams. Having the ability to show how parts interact with each other is crucial. Now, you have that ability.

This isn’t just your ordinary assembly motion either. Most 3D programs use D-Cubed for motion simulation and constraint solving. Instead of paying royalties to Siemens PLM Software for the use of that technology, SpaceClaim went and developed their own motion tech. In many ways, it performs motion simulation much better, in that it allows you to locate the triad where you want the motion to occur and define interaction through Groups. Even better, it stops at the extents and updates part geometry in real-time… smoothly, and all of this is done through the Move command you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used SpaceClaim.

You can place the triad at the exact point you need to manipulate groups of geometry. Travel stops at the extent. (Click to Enlarge)
You can place the triad at the exact point you need to manipulate groups of geometry. Travel stops at the extent. (Click to Enlarge)
You can't tell, but the assembly and the geometry are both updating in real-time as the (purple) part is moved. (Click to Enlarge)
You can't tell, but the assembly and the geometry are both updating in real-time as the (purple) part is moved. (Click to Enlarge)

Volume Selection

You only get one image for this, so take it all in… slowly. If you’re into Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), you’ll be happy to know SpaceClaim is stepping up the game in this area to make it a lot easier for you to define those spaces to get your flow mojo on. It’s done through defining a selection criteria. You plug in the volume you want selected, for example, less than or equal to .18in3. SpaceClaim selects those volumes, you removed them, your analysis is simplified.

So, this makes it possible for any type of analyst to receive a model, simplify the model and continue with the analysis without having to trouble the engineers or stick them with another task of creating a model for analysis. Engineering continues with engineering. Analysts continue with the analysis. Time saved.

SpaceClaim 2010 includes new power select features to remove small components from assemblies, which helps when preparing volumes for CFD.
SpaceClaim 2010 includes new power select features to remove small components from assemblies, which helps when preparing volumes for CFD.

Sheet metal

Sheet metal was another area majorly lacking in previous versions. Lacking, lacking, lacking. No more. Not only are there sheet metal features, there’s a whole ribbon tab dedicated to all the metal bending joy you can imagine. The basics are there, bringing the ability to convert geometry to sheet metal, add flanges by simply pulling edges and quickly cycle through different types of bends and overlaps via a selection box. You’ll also get a library of form feature to drag, drop and manipulate till your heart’s content.

Obviously, direct modeling requires a different method for slamming out sheet metal features. You’re not building feature on top of feature. You’re influencing geometry with direct modeling tools. The way they’ve done sheet metal takes a lot of the work out of the process. As complicated as sheet metal can get, there’s bound to be some limitations with their first go at it, but for a first go, it’s extremely mature acting and may even need to start shaving come the next version.

A sheet metal flange is "pulled" into place with reliefs automatically created. (Click to Enlarge)
A sheet metal flange is "pulled" into place with reliefs automatically created. (Click to Enlarge)
Bend/interface types can be changed with a click from a bend to a sharp to an overlap. (Click to Enlarge)
Bend/interface types can be changed with a click from a bend to a sharp to an overlap. (Click to Enlarge)
Text and features can be cut into the sheet metal, across the bends in the Flattened state, then.... (Click to Enlarge)
Text and features can be cut into the sheet metal, across the bends in the Flattened state, then.... (Click to Enlarge)
...bent to reveal the true result of the punched type in the bent condition. (Click to Enlarge)
...bent to reveal the true result of the punched type in the bent condition. (Click to Enlarge)
Lightweight pattern features make it possible to visually extend complicated patterns across entire features.
Lightweight pattern features make it possible to visually extend complicated patterns across entire features.

Some of the other stuff

3D Sketching
If you’re familiar with 3D sketching in programs like SolidWorks, whose had and improved the feature for years, this isn’t anything special, but for a direct modeling tool to finally gain this capability… ’tis a good thing. With direct modeling you’re not creating reference geometry like planes to build features on top of, you’re working in 3-dimensional space to create geometry around other geometry, so it goes without saying, it would be critical to have the ability to add points, lines and splines in that 3-dimensional space to define the geometry.

Large Assemblies
For many reasons, large assemblies are always a problem in modern 3D modeling programs. The CAD companies deal with it in different ways, but it usually comes down to reducing what’s loaded when the file is opened. SpaceClaim now adds the same and they call it lightweight. An assembly is opened, then you select the pieces you want to load and edit. The same thing is applied to the assemblies in the drawings. Much needed, but really, large assemblies in any program just need to work.

The Smack

So does adding fancy sheet metal functionality, volume selection and a unique take on assembly simulation rank a product at the top? Not in the slightest. But, adding features requested by users, in my opinion, does. The bonus here is that those fancy sheet metal features, selections, sketching and assembly tools make SpaceClaim more than just a way to push and pull geometry around on a file you’ve imported. True, they’re features that other 3D programs have, but with SpaceClaim it’s all in the context of direct modeling. Direct modeling influences geometry. This version of SpaceClaim, once again, has the potential to influence how other 3D program approach direct modeling and history-free design in the future and extend the capabilities along-side other 3D programs for the user.

SpaceClaim
More on SpaceClaim 2010

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.