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August 07, 2006
Interactive 3D Environments Replace CAD Drawings
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

About this Issue...

Welcome to AECWeekly! According to Seemage CEO Chris Williams, people need a way to interact with the product data you sell. Thus his company offers what he terms, ways to facilitate communication by making product data interactive with interactive 3D environments. Adding to their portfolio of products that includes importers, intuitive 3D mockup and high performance viewer, Seemage released in July a plug-in for 3D PDF which will support the current Adobe u3D file format but also the future of 3D PDF. Read about it in this week’s Industry News.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Contract Awards, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Interactive 3D Environments Replace CAD Drawings

by Susan Smith

According to Seemage CEO Chris Williams, people need a way to interact with the product data you sell. Thus his company offers what he terms, ways to facilitate communication by making product data interactive with interactive 3D environments. Adding to their portfolio of products that includes importers, intuitive 3D mockup and high performance viewer,, Seemage released in July a plug-in for 3D PDF which will support the current Adobe u3D file format but also the future of 3D PDF.

With the release of this product, users can decide whether to publish 3D PDF files in Adobe’s u3D file format or in Seemage’s .smg file format, which Williams said provides up to 10 times the performance improvement over u3D as well as additional tools.

Seemage has targeted the mechanical CAD marketplace, although Williams said that their solutions would be valuable in AEC not only in the construction phase but in the maintenance phase of a building. “If you own a building, would you rather have 500 sheet drawings of the building or would you rather have one 3D interactive environment of the building? It’s also much easier for most people to read than a 2D drawing.”

The customer should have the ability to author additional content around the reused product data, not just simply viewing it. “If you’re a service person in the field, you don’t have any reason to view all the CAD data of the product, you want to see how to disassemble it, because the context is more important to you.”

u3D functionality from Adobe is actually
Deep View technology from the company Right Hemisphere. The .smg plug-in from Seemage offers a higher level of interactivity in performance, according to Williams, including “ the ability to rotate x number of objects, the ability or speed at which you can select an object, or tool for a toolbar, all that is at a higher level of performance for the same number of components in the assembly that you’re looking at.”

With the .smg plug-in there is also a canned set of viewing parameters, so that if you want to see two components in an exploded view you can have the other components turned off. You can then just then drag and drop into the environment. Seemage also has a piece of patented technology called the Digger which you can put over the object or somewhere in your display, point at the assembly, then look at it in a magnified view or zoom down. You can also limit who has access to the functionality in .smg by turning it off inside the PDF file.

“All of our viewing functionality for our free viewer (downloadable from our
website) is inside the actual PDF file as well,” noted Williams. All you need to use the plug-in is Acrobat 7. In order to see performance examples you can download a
u3D example and a
.smg example. All of the functionality of the plug-in can be put inside a Microsoft or ActiveX Control file.

PDF never really penetrated the engineering space, according to Williams. Only recently has Adobe targeted the engineering market, a climate where CAD vendors all provide their own viewing standards but none are open file formats.

In another announcement in July, Seemage announced that their customer, Alcatel Alenia Space, which builds satellite space programs, used Seemage solutions to improve product collaboration, creation of technical publications and the definition of assembly instructions. The company needed to lower the cost and delivery time of validating and qualifying satellites under design and construction.

“The context Alcatel Alenia created with Seemage was assembly and qualification procedures,” Williams explained. “They used to do that with a lot of text and 2D pictures, typical CAD/CAM drawings. They’ve moved completely away from that to 3D interactive environments that show someone this is how the things go together. This is how you test whether this is assembled correctly. Here are the procedures to tell if this leaks or not. You now have a 3D animation of sequences of what the person is supposed to do. The user can still interact with it because they’re using a viewer to view the animation but they can stop the viewer at any time. They can cut sections,
measure, interrogate, rotate, in the context of a procedure. Many of the things they’re assembling they didn’t actually design from a CAD point of view, so they’re integrating an assembly which is a multiCAD assembly, but they’re doing it in our mockup tools instead of a CAD system.”

A CAD system is very complex, comprising a huge volume of data. Many people involved with the design don’t need the CAD system because they’re not designing themselves. Their job is show the sequence of how to put assemblies together to help personnel who have to physically assemble the componentry.

“Alcatel Alenia have replaced a lot of CAD and desktop publishing work with our tool,” Williams said. “They would have been building assembly drawings, assembly documentation which would be a combination of CAD stuff and more desktop publishing – i.e. text based procedures, with illustrations, which is now replaced with Seemage.”


Intergraph Corporation announced a distributor partnership with PowerLine Technology, Inc., a provider of engineering software for utility organizations. Under the terms of the agreement, G/Technology, Intergraph's integrated geofacilities management system, will be augmented with PowerLine's leading pole analysis software, applications employed by utilities to design and build overhead power lines in compliance with the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC).

McCormick Systems and Dexter + Chaney have combined to provide electrical and systems contractors with integrated accounting/estimating software.

McCormick’s electrical estimating software (Win 3000, Win 6000, Win 8000 and Win 12000 and additional products) and automated building systems products (ABS 3000, ABS 6000, ABS 8000 to ABS 12000 and more) are fully integrated with Forefront(R) Construction Suite construction management and accounting software from Dexter + Chaney.

What this means: The link between the Dexter + Chaney and McCormick software allows contractors who use software from the two companies to easily set up budgets for projects (in Forefront) without additional keystrokes.


Graphisoft just announced that they will be hosting the
Virtual Construction Conference in Budapest, Hungary. The event will focus on technologies vital to the construction industry.
The two-day program, starting on August 21, will feature presentations from companies such as
Navisworks, and
Oracle and will explore how companies around the world are employing Virtual Construction technologies and processes to differentiate their business and improve their processes. For your reference, embedded below is the complete media alert with additional information.

Contract Awards

Deltek, provider of enterprise management software for project-focused organizations, announced that national nuclear energy services and technologies leader EnergySolutions has licensed Deltek Costpoint, Deltek's industry-leading enterprise resource planning solution designed specifically for sophisticated, project-driven organizations. The solution will handle EnergySolutions' sizable acquisition growth and regulatory compliance needs for over 2,000 employees across multiple locations.

New Products

Bentley’s RAM International Solutions Center has just released RAM Advanse Version 8.0, a finite element analysis and design software system featuring a number of innovative engineering desktop capabilities.

Like earlier versions of RAM Advanse, Version 8.0 is a general purpose structural analysis solution that provides advanced design features for hot-rolled steel, cold-formed steel, wood (lumber and glulam) and concrete, and can be used to design most types of structures. However, its special set of structural design tools has been expanded to include not only modules for continuous beams of any material and concrete or masonry retaining walls, but also:

Tilt-up walls (with and without openings, simplified and finite element analysis)
Masonry walls (including pilasters and lintels)
Concrete and masonry shear walls (with and without openings)

Cadsoft Corporation announces the launch of its new I-Train series, an ongoing selection of interactive training CDs designed for Residential Designers, Remodelers, Builders, and Interior Design firms.

The I-Train series complements Envisioneer 3.0, Cadsoft’s architectural design software. Envisioneer has been growing rapidly in popularity and receiving rave reviews among small-medium firms in the construction industry. I-Train Volumes 1, 2 and 3 are already available for purchase from the Cadsoft Online Store.

Primavera Systems, Inc., announced the release of the latest versions of Primavera Contractor, the only planning and scheduling solution built specifically for the construction industry. Primavera Contractor helps contractors and subcontractors build accurate schedules that are easy to understand and use.

QuadriSpace released its 2006 series of 3D publishing products for printed or interactive 3D applications. The products include powerful new features at a reduced price.

Publisher3D 2006 Professional™ adds the ability to publish interactive 3D to the web, 3D PDF and QuadriSpace interactive formats. New features include an expanded library of standard illustration views and render styles, advanced model animations tools, and selectable model size.

COADE announced the release of an updated edition of CADWorx Plant and CADWorx P&ID 2007 with several new capabilities. The CADWorx Plant range has a new LineView interface for an easier, more uncluttered design environment and a new SpecView dynamic menu feature for faster, more accurate selection of components in its specification-driven modeling environment. CADWorx Plant Professional also ships with the latest version of NavisWorks Roamer, version 5.1, with enhanced features and compatibility with AutoCAD 2007 files. The CADWorx P&ID range now has improved database reporting plus stronger links to the physical plant model.

FreeDesign, Inc., the creator of breakthrough 3D surfacing technology, announced that it will be demonstrating FreeDimension’s support of Google SketchUp file formats as a 3D import at the SIGGRAPH event.

FreeDesign’s product, FreeDimension, now accepts import of .KMZ files from Google SketchUp and allows basic 3D designs to be quickly and easily developed into more organic and flowing shapes, quickly and easily.

Z Corporation, maker of multicolor 3D printers, unveiled the first handheld, self-positioning 3D scanner on the market that can digitize 3D surfaces in real time. The ZScanner(TM) 700 gives designers and engineers an entirely new way to capture 3D data with unprecedented speed, ease of use and versatility for a wide range of new and emerging applications. Z Corp. demonstrated the innovation at SIGGRAPH 2006, the leading computer graphics conference.

Autodesk Inc. announced Autodesk 3ds Max 9 software, the latest version of its 3D modeling, animation and rendering solution. 3ds Max 9 supports 64-bit technologies, providing digital artists with the tools for next-generation games development, design visualizations, and film and television visual effects production.

Autodesk, Inc. launched Autodesk Maya 8 software, the newest version of its Academy Award-winning 3D modeling, animation and rendering solution. Maya has been used by a variety of clients, including BMW, CNN, Disney, Epic Games, Industrial Light & Magic, Midway Games and Weta Digital, to create breathtaking 3D imagery for feature films, interactive games, broadcast graphics and industrial design. Maya 8 will be showcased at the Autodesk booth #1706 at SIGGRAPH 2006, August 1-3 at the Boston Convention Center.

Around the Web

Freedom Tower will grow on people, architect says by David Trotta, July 19, 2006 , Reuters.com -- The architect of the skyscraper that will replace New York's Twin Towers has advice for those who might not like the design: give it some time.

AIA and University of Minnesota to Lead Major Transportation Research Project for Federal Government , July 26, 2006 AIA - The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has awarded The American Institute of Architects (AIA) a contract of as much as $2 million to study the benefits that well-designed community transportation projects bring to American communities.

Upcoming Events

August 5 - 8, 2006
Place: Marriott Hotel & Marina

San Diego, CA USA
The conference provides a forum for members of the education community to come together and share their experiences and knowledge. The EdUC covers everything you need to know to start or to grow GIS activities and programs. Held in conjuction with the ESRI User Conference (UC), EdUC registration includes attendance at the ESRI UC Plenary Session and Map Gallery Opening and Evening Reception.
August 6 - 9, 2006
Place: Hyatt Regency Chicago

Chicago, IL USA
Energy 2006 is the premier energy workshop and expo. Find out from industry and federal experts how to design and achieve your energy goals. Our theme this year is a Roadmap to Energy Efficiency and a Brighter Energy Future, and more than 80 sessions will focus on timely topics and key issues of energy efficiency in the following five areas: building strategies, management, operations and maintenance, procurement and practical application.
August 8, 2006
Place: Internet

Anywhere, CA USA
There is a gap in financial and accounting software commonly found between growing architectural and engineering (A/E) firms and more established A/E firms. Often, these growing firms get lost in the search for a new solution and don't get the advice and direction they need when investing in financial and accounting software. Client's Bill of RightsAxium recognized this gap and initiated an effort to help these firms; providing them with Ajera - an innovative, easy-to-use software that empowers them to grow and succeed. Each year, the number of Ajera clients grows as firms continue to see the benefit of using our software. At Axium we believe the
key to bridging the gap between generic software and enterprise software is letting firms know what they should expect from their software; a Client's Bill of Rights.

In 2006, Axium will highlight and explain 10 rights you have and should be aware of in purchasing a financial and project management software. We will focus and discuss in detail your rights in a series of webinars throughout the year. So, watch for our next mailer, register for our upcoming webinars and learn what to look for in a financial and project management software.
August 11 - 19, 2006
Place: Freiburg, Germany

The International Summer Workshop is an 8 day practical and technical training workshop in English focusing on solar and low energy housing examples from Europe relevant to temperate and cold climates.

August 28 - 30, 2006
Place: San Jose, CA USA
Instructors: GV Ranjan, Ph.D., Ron Haupt, P.E.
Format: Morning Lectures, Afternoon Hands-on Workshops + Case Studies Computers, Piping Stress Software Provided
Breakfast, Snacks, Sodas Provided Throughout the day.

SST Systems, Inc., conducts piping design and stress analysis seminars periodically. The class is taught by instructors with over 30 years practical experience in the field, one of whom is an active member of B31, B31.1, B31.3 and other code committees.

These classes involve lectures in the mornings followed by hands-on workshops + case study discussions. Cost is approx 1/2 of what you would pay for a few ASME seminars because there is no ASME seminar that covers the same range of topics that we do.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.