Truck builder makes smooth design-archive shift

Truck builder makes smooth design-archive shift

Western Star Trucks converted its design files from one software format to another with CADfeature.

Because DaimlerChrysler's Commercial Vehicle Division was standardizing on Dassaualt Systèmes'( Catia version 5 for all mechanical engineering work, Western Star Trucks ( of Portland, Ore., a nameplate of the Commercial Vehicle Division, had to convert its entire library of Pro/Engineer drawings and models to Catia V5. However, it did not want to settle for converting only b-rep models to the new software, but wanted all the Pro/E model features so it could easily modify and improve parts.

Freightliner LLC, the parent of Western Star, helped with the conversion by selecting IBM Global Services ( to do the work. IBM used a standalone application called CADfeature from Elysium Inc. ( as part of an automated system to convert Western Star's Pro/E archive.

The automated system is faster, more economical, and more accurate than using foreign labor to remaster CAD data. The IBM-Elysium system converts 4,200 files in 60 hours of around-the-clock operation through two IBM Intellistation computers.

For IBM's conversion service, DaimlerChrysler paid less than half the cost of conventional outsourcing for a savings of $1.2 million. The automated conversion system produces better and more-accurate results than manual remastering by applying consistent rules for converting features and mating constraints, and it eliminates human error.

CADfeature translates part features and assembly constraints among a number of 3D CAD systems. It employs the application-programming interfaces (APIs) of each CAD system to read data from the originating system and write it to the target system.

Not all features from Pro/E can be mapped one-for-one to Catia V5. For instance, Pro/E has an offset feature that enables a depression or protrusion to be created by offsetting a surface. Catia V5 has no such feature, says Keith Stratton, technical project leader for IBM.

However, CADfeature lets users map Pro/E's offset feature to multiple offset surfaces in Catia. The part geometry looks the same, but the Catia feature tree shows multiple surfaces instead of a single object. Users of CADfeature also can specify how dissimilar types of features should be converted. These specifications can be made interactively from the CADfeature user interface or in an automated fashion through CADfeature's API.

IBM used the Pro/E and Catia application architecture APIs and developed software for converting Pro/E drawings to Catia V5, while retaining full associations between drawings and models. Prior to the development of CADfeature, the only way to convert fully featured CAD data with associative drawings was for operators to interactively copy CAD models and drawings with the target system. This manual "remastering" process is costly and error prone, even with careful checking.

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