C3D Toolkit 2020
In this era when it appears some CAD vendors really just want your money in exchange for not much, it's good to see annual releases that burst with improvements.
How bad is the just-give-us-money scam? (And it really is a scam.) At one CAD event I watched this year, the 2020 version of the software had exactly one new function -- and the marketing team didn't talk about it. [Audience cue: groan.] It almost seemed like the pre-event chatter at the firm consisted of "Since our software's update is so lame, let's tell reporters about anything but."
Others, I am pleased to report, are bursting with goodness and newness. Solid Edge 2021 from Siemens is one; C3D Toolkit 2020 from C3D Labs is another.
'Course, the software from C3D Labs is totally out of your league. You and I wouldn't buy it, ever, 'cause it's meant for programmers. The "Toolkit" part of the name is the clue. If you want to develop your own CAD system or other software that works with CAD data, then you'd reach for a toolkit, like the ones from C3D Labs, Open Design Alliance, Siemens, Spatial, and others. C3D Labs says their toolkit, however, is the most complete one on the market, with these modules, and you can license each module separately, should you need the services of just one or two:
- Geometry kernel -- C3D Modeler
- Constraint manager -- C3D Solver
- Polygonal mesh to B-rep converter -- C3D B-Shaper
- Visualization engine -- C3D Vision
- Data exchange -- C3D Converter
The big addition to this year's release is surface modeling. Surface modeling is used for industrial design, when you want swoopy curves. Think car bodies. One of the new functions generates a variety of surfaces based on sections and control functions, as the figure illustrates:
- Conic section curves
- Sections in the form of NURBS
- Sections in the form of arbitrary splines
- Circular sections
- Ruled sections
We get a hint of where C3D Labs is thinking of heading with surface modeling in future releases, with this sentence from its press release: "This is considered the high-end of CAD functionality and paves the way for solving design tasks in the aerospace and shipbuilding industries." So they seem to be aiming for the lofty levels currently handled by the Dassaults and Siemens of the world.
And why not: once you have all the math in place, geometric kernels are done. Really, the only new problem that Dassault (through Spatial) and Siemens (through Parasolid) are tackling these days are 3D models that combine solids and meshes, and how to edit them as if the two representations were the same thing. Progress is, on that front, slow, giving chances for competitors to catch up. I note that C3D Labs has a 'polygonal mesh to B-rep converter', which in some future release could well become a 'polygonal mesh to B-rep editor'. It is, after all, just math.
The other changes to this year's release of C3D Toolkit are in the areas of solid modeling, sheet metal, direct 2D editing, 3D visualization, interoperability (file translation), and the aforementioned mesh to b-rep conversion.
For instance, developers can now add a function that punches sheet metal with any arbitrary shape, and the punched portion can have a different thickness than the original sheet metal.