Parametric Modeling 2.0, ZW3D 2018, and More CAD News

Updated Nov 3, 2023
Screenshot of Onshape Parametric Modeling

Welcome to 2018’s first edition of World of CAD: Scan2CAD’s monthly roundup of all the news you need to know from CAD, CNC, and their related fields.

Onshape kick things off this January in suitably impressive fashion, as the cloud-based CAD company claim to have revitalized the fundamental technology behind 3D CAD. Meanwhile, we’ll also be taking a look at the new version of Chinese CAD software ZW3D.

2018 also sees a continuation of last year’s artificial intelligence hype, as we report on ParaMatters’ release of a new CAD software with AI features: CogniCAD. Finally, we’ll be looking at the business side of things, and checking out Trimble’s acquisition of Stabiplan. Let’s get to it!

Onshape introduces “Parametric Modeling 2.0”

Configurable cylinder Onshape

Onshape’s new configuration tools—a key part of Parametric Modeling 2.0. Image source: Onshape

With exciting developments taking place all the time in CAD and its related fields, you might think that we’ve become a difficult bunch to impress. Nonetheless, when an up-and-coming software company claims to have altered the very fundamentals of CAD, that definitely piques our attention.

The company in mind? None other than Onshape, creators of a software so forward-facing that its status as the only full featured, full cloud CAD program that runs directly from your browser remains unchallenged. But if you thought that the company—founded by Jon Hirschtick, who masterminded SolidWorks—was going to settle for ordinary, you’d be dead wrong.

That’s because, in their latest release, Onshape have decided to completely overhaul parametric modeling.

Parametric modeling lies at the base of most of today’s 3D CAD software, including SolidWorks and many of its affordable alternatives. However, Onshape looked at the technology—which has now been around for 30 years—and decided it needed an upgrade. They decided to name it Parametric Modeling 2.0.

In a launch blog post (now unpublished), Hirschtick noted that this wasn’t a total reinvention of the wheel. “All of the core elements of Parametric Modeling 2.0 existed in some form in Parametric Modeling 1.0,” Hirschtick said. “The difference is that they were clunky at best… and unusable or dangerous at worst.”

Featured in Parametric Modeling 2.0 are:

  • Multi-Part Design, allowing you to design all related parts in one place
  • Configurations, which allows for greater configurability, the creation of complex families of parts, and easier navigation
  • Standard Content, which improves fastener design and assemblies
  • Managed In-Context Design, which ensures that models update in a predictable manner
  • Simultaneous Sheet Metal Tools, which synchronizes flat and folded views
  • Custom Features, employing Onshape’s FeatureScript language

We’re certainly excited to try out the new features in Onshape, and are looking forward to see how its competitors respond. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it here at World of CAD, so watch this space!

ZWSOFT launches ZW3D 2018

Whilst it’s easy to focus on the big guns, CAD isn’t all about AutoCAD vs SolidWorks. In fact, there are a whole host of interesting software manufacturers whose releases are worth paying attention to. Case in point: China’s rising ZWSOFT, which has recently unveiled ZW3D 2018, the latest version of its product development software.

The program, which straddles the fields of CAD and CAM, aims to offer users a more intuitive way to design their products. A key enhancement in the 2018 version is the introduction of layer categories. This comes alongside an upgraded Part Attribute Form, which allows users to edit attributes in Microsoft Excel.

Meanwhile, on the CAM side of things, ZW3D 2018 allows users to generate multiple layers of tool paths in a single view, adding to the existing software’s support for 5-axis CNC machining. Additionally, ZWSOFT promise that their software’s data translation capabilities will reduce errors and speed up the design process.

With yet more features to look at, including assembly design, sheet metal design, and solid-surface hybrid modeling, it’s certainly clear to see why ZW3D is worth a look. So, if you’d like to do just that, head over to the ZWSOFT website.

Bringing AI to CAD: Paramatters releases CogniCAD

The potential of artificial intelligence in CAD is only just coming into view, but there’s already plenty to check out. Machine learning, for example, was a hot discussion point at last year’s Autodesk University London, and SolidWorks 2018, from competitor Dassault Systèmes, introduced generative design capabilities.

The newest company adding itself to that list is ParaMatters, who’ve just introduced CogniCAD. In keeping with recent trends in CAD, CogniCAD is a cloud-based application for generative design and lightweighting.

CogniCAD is targeting the aerospace and automotive sectors, and offers users the ability to create lighter parts whilst maintaining high performance. Not only that, but it also has the capability to automatically 3D print those parts.

Michael Bogomolny of ParaMatters attributed the performance of CogniCAD to “the convergence of advanced topology optimization techniques, computational geometry, infinite computing power in the cloud, and artificial intelligence”. With so many tools in its arsenal, the company’s goal of a fully automated and autonomous design-to-manufacturing process doesn’t seem too out of reach. To learn more, head over to the ParaMatters website.

Stabiplan acquired by Trimble

Finally in this month’s World of CAD, we’re turning to the business side of the industry. That’s because this month has seen British MEP firm Trimble acquiring Dutch CAD/CAE software provider Stabiplan.

Stabiplan’s best known offering is Stabicad, a software solution which integrates design, drawing, and engineering calculations and analysis. Rather than a standalone software, Stabicad is designed to work alongside Autodesk software including Revit and AutoCAD. The benefits of Stabicad include faster and more detailed drawings for AutoCAD users. In addition, Revit users can take advantage of Stabicad’s features to enhance the efficiency of their design output.

Trimble, meanwhile, provides a range of software for the construction industry, with solutions for each stage of the lifecycle of a building. Already a major player in its field, Trimble’s acquisition of Stabiplan stands to bolster its position as one of Europe’s leaders in MEP software. You can learn more about both businesses at the Stabiplan and Trimble websites.

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