upFront.eZine #1,129: Spatial 3D Insiders' Summit Conference 2022
Q&A with ceo Jean-Marc Guillard
Inside the Business of CAD | 2 May 2022
The Spatial division of Dassault Systemes is in charge of licensing components to companies wanting to develop 3D software.
It’s best-known product is the ACIS solids modeler, first developed in the late 1980s. Then, a decade ago, Dassault handed its CGM kernel used by Catia to Spatial to license and componentize. (I think CGM is short for Catia geometric modeler.) The other major product is the InterOp file translator.
Spatial last month held its first post-Covid 3D Insider’s Summit in Munich, at which it revealed new features to be released this year, as well as its new guiding principles:
“What is important to you is important to us
We are highly motivated to be best, and set the standard”
I won’t comment on Spatial’s past business practices, as my knowledge is based on merely a couple of anecdotes. Nevertheless, I found significant the emphasis throughout the conference on a changed-for-the-better Spatial, as well as during my interview with executives.
I interviewed ceo-since-2010 Jean-Marc Guillard and vp-since-2018 of worldwide business development Frederuc Jacqmin. I was especially interested in understanding what it was like for them to be a component supplier of two kernels. The text of the interview is not verbatim, and has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What kinds of firms license CGM?
A: Our business is to solve problems for customers, how they want to move in the future, what will make them successful.
We position CGM as going beyond a modeler: it is a set of technologies. What kind of data do you want to use? What are the most common formats you want, the geometric foundation you need, the industries you will target? Hybrid data is more common today. We are checking most of the boxes, we have the most technology. We do not force ourselves on anyone.
Ten years ago, when we started promoting CGM, most of our customers were on ACIS. Today, 1/3 of our 400+ customers are on CGM, two-thirds on ACIS.
It is not a decision between ACIS or CGM; they are just technologies available. Importance is what technology can provide customers over a long period of time. The starting point is what the customer needs not just today, but also over the long-term.
Q: Can you tell me your financial picture?
A: We do not give out financial information, as Spatial is a division of Dassault. I will say that we are increasing new customers each year.
Q: Who do you consider your competitor, other than Siemens Parasolid?
A: OEM-based solutions like Inventor, Tech Soft 3D. It depends on what the need of the customer is.
Q: Are you familiar with C3D Labs?
A: We keep track of our competitors.
Q: I noticed that constraints were not mentioned during the conference.
A: Market for constraints seems to be limited, compared to other components.
Q: Do you get your DWG tech from the Open Design Alliance?
A: We cooperate with the ODA.
Q: Do you license HOOPS [for visualization], or do you have a technology exchange with Tech Soft 3D?
A: We are a reseller for HOOPS Visualize, and so Tech Soft 3D is a partner. But we compete when it comes to InterOp translation and other technology. We try to provide value for customers, and so are working hard on an integrated portfolio.
Q: Why not use rendering from Dassault?
A: There is a cost to making a technology as a component. There are difference facets to consider, such as the cost of turning it into a component, what the market size might be. Or is it intellectual property you want to keep, to help you differentiate? We came to the conclusion that it is good for Spatial to partner with Tech Soft 3D.
Q: I am not sure I fully understood your AGM product.
A: Application Graphics Manager accelerates development by providing standard functions for any 3D application, so that the developer doesn’t start from scratch. The cost of our source code is very affordable compared to doing on your own.
Q: So it is example code, that programmers can copy and paste into their own code?
A: Step by step, you make it your own. The idea is that firms can focus on their IP, their functions. It reduces the number of bugs. Fifty applications already use it.
What people expect from us is to integrate things so that they are transparent to them. Technologies are good for solving specific problems. There are still lots of software developed in-house, but we are good at solving complex problems. We would like to solve every problem, but we are humble and know we cannot solve every problem. In this, we are doing quite well. We want the community to move forward.
Gfx Speak: Spatial continues to expand on a ‘kernel’ of an idea
WorldCAD Access: Spatial’s 3D Insiders Summit conference 2022
[Disclosure: Spatial provided me with hotel accommodation.]
And in Other News
Simulation giant Ansys acquires Web-based upstart OnScale (no relation to Onshape), which scales simulations online using a variety of open-source solvers, even though Ansys already has Web-based solvers. Monica Schnitger puzzles through the story at schnitgercorp.com/?p=19674.
- - -
IMSI Design updates its TurboCAD line to 2022 with these new functions:
Keep Size scales distances between objects, not objects themselves
Smart dimensioning is associative between model and paper spaces
Intersection curves are associative with 3D objects
...and lots more. The line of TurboCAD programs varies in capabilities but always comes with permanent licenses:
TurboCAD Platinum - $1,500
TurboCAD Professional - $1,000
TurboCAD Deluxe - $250
TurboCAD Designer - $70
“2022” really doesn’t do this software justice, as at 36 years old TurboCAD (first written in Turbo Pascal) is one of the longest running PC CAD packages chugging along. More at turbocad.com.
- - -
Transoft Solutions lands a patent for using video cameras to record and analyze vehicle traffic at intersections, while filtering out errors. I’m old enough that as a transportation engineer I hired part-timers to record those movements on clipboards, back in the day. transoftsolutions.com/transoft-video-analytics-patent-approved/
- - -
Nanosoft ships version 22 of its AutoCAD-workalike nanoCAD software with floating drawing windows, associative arrays, and an interactive interface for 3D clipping volumes. It’s a free update to existing users. All the details here at nanocad.com/products/nanocad-platform/updates.
- - -
Lumafield emerges from stealth with $32.5 million for the world's first x-ray scanner for engineers. Neptune uses CT [computed tomography] to look inside products and then create a 3D reconstruction of external and internal features like cracks and voids. Price is $3,000/month (hardware+software) when it ships by the end of this year. lumafield.com
- - -
Pulsonix updates its 3D PCB design software, Pulsonix, to version 12.0 with one hundred new functions, such as 64-bit multi-core processing, additional design rules, and collision detection useful for folded board designs. It’s always good to see a software company giving its customers value through three-digit feature upgrades. pulsonix.com/latestversion
“I’m confused why @elonmusk bought Twitter for like billions of dollars when i downloaded it for free.”
- Carter Andrews (on Twitter)
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