The company had been teasing a new product for several weeks, with count-down reminder emails arriving a day, an hour, and 15 minutes prior to the launch hour. And then Hexagon unveiled Nexus, their new Web-based platform for working with manufacturing software and hardware, with an emphasis on “open.”
Nexus offers inter-software and inter-person communications, along with new app development through the cloud. For the launch, the offerings are, however, sparse, with just five items ready to go:
- Nexus Digital Reality platform -- includes 3D Whiteboard for project reviews
- Three in-house apps -- Metrology reporting, materials connect, materials enrich
- One solution -- Design for Additive Manufacturing
We were told, "Over the coming months and years, we'll be launching many new Nexus apps and solutions.”
Hexagon told us that Nexus represents “Digital Reality,” the name it has given to what the rest of our industry call ‘digital twins’. Digital twins are 3D CAD representations of physical equipment, what we used to call “as-builts,” along with real-time tracking of on-going maintenance. Taking a sideways shot at competitors, Hexagon said that its Digital Reality “is much more closely connected to reality” than are digital twins.
Calling All Third-party Developers
Hexagon several times during the presentation said words to the effect that “We welcome technology from any vendor.” Exactly how it was open to third-parties was, however, not revealed – plug-ins? APIs?
We were shown two third-party apps linked to Nexus. One of them is AM-Studio from Austria’s CADS Additive GmbH. It preps 3D models for printing jobs. We saw it running inside the Nexus environment like a native app, working collaboratively with other apps.
Glitches in the Machine
You can sign up at Nexus now, to try it out for free, through https://nexus.hexagon.com/home/register, but people and corporations with gmail/yahoo/etc accounts are blocked from registering; I don’t know why. Even I, with my 23-year-old telus.net account, was blocked from signing up. This limits the number of potential customers Hexagon could hope to attract.
I had many questions, but a restriction in the presentation’s Q&A panel limited me to a single question.
What Ralph Grabowski Thinks
The Hexagon effort sounds to me similar to what others, like Dassault, Siemens, PTC, and Autodesk, are trying/doing: an all-in-one work environment that locks users to each vendor more tightly than ever before. The declaration of openness, of inviting others inside the tent, is an aspect of that: no need to run our software independently of Nexus, 3dexperience, Plus, Fusion. All are happy to welcome us in; but how easily can we back out?
These all are grand plans. Autodesk expects to roll out various parts of Fusion over the next five years. A decade after inaugurating 3dexperience, some estimate that roughly 40% of Dassault’s customers are on it. PTC hasn’t talked officially about their Atlas-cum-Plus environment yet. And, as Hexagon itself stated, more of Nexus will be released in the months, even years to come.
To view the presentation, register at https://nexuslaunch.hexagon.com/nl23/login.