Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Altair Assimilates Parasolid into HyperWorks 

<img style="float: left;" src="http://media2.hpcwire.com/dmr/parasolid.png" alt="" width="95" height="62" />“Assimilation” may have taken on a negative connotation for those familiar with the Borg, but dystopian sci-fi examples aside, assimilation is at the core of any business looking to keep ahead of the competition—a fact that has led Altair to expand its software license agreement with Siemens PLM to include the deployment of the geometry engine Parasolid Designer throughout its product line.

“Assimilation” may have taken on a negative connotation for those familiar with the Borg, but dystopian sci-fi examples aside, assimilation is at the core of any business looking to keep ahead of the competition.

This has led Altair Engineering to expand its software license agreement with Siemens PLM Software to include the deployment of the geometry engine Parasolid Designer throughout its product line, making any Parasolid advantage an advantage of their own.

Altair first became a Parasolid licensee in 2008 with the acquisition of solidThinking, and after comparing it to other geometry engines, the company has decided to build it into their entire HyperWorks suite.

The focus of the Parasolid deployment falls on HyperMesh—Altair's finite element pre-processor. HyperMesh currently offers basic modeling operations in the geometry, but if substantial geometric modifications are necessary, it's often simpler to just import those new geometries rather than manually making changes.

Altair expects the integration of Parasolid to improve this situation because it will implement CAD-like geometry operations directly within the HyperMesh interface. Not only does this mean less back-and-forth between different CAD and CAE products, but it will also supplement the existing tool box with additions from the design world.

But HyperWorks isn't the only focus of this expanded agreement. James Dagg, senior vice president of design and math solutions at Altair says that the company has been on a steady path to replace the geometry of its solidThinking Evolve product for the past three to four years, and are now the majority of the way through that process thanks to Parasolid. That means that most core modeling operations in Evolve are based on Parasolid today.

SolidThinking Inspire, on the other hand, has been based on Parasolid right from the get go. So the data structure, the undo, all the boolean operations, and the push-pull tools are all based on this foundation.

Massimo Fariello, senior vice president of software technology alliances and strategies at Altair noted that Altair chose Parasolid because it was the most technically advanced solution tested to accelerate development across Altair's product range.

Dagg followed up by citing a good Q/A culture and robust modeling operations to be among the advantages that gave Parasolid an edge over other geometry engines. Where others would take a long time or simply fail to form an operation, Parasolid had no problems.

One example of a task that broke many of its competitors was the replacement of the fillets and rounds—the rounded edges that often represent welding on a model—within solidThinking's Evolve products. Dagg explaned that by using Parasolid, the quality of fillets in Evolve was significantly improved.

Dagg also cited blends and patches as other key tools delivered by Parasolid. He said that while Parasolid's patching and blending tools were good to begin with, the Parasolid team worked with Altair to meet their specific needs and fine-tune the tools' focus.

“In general, when [Parasolid] advertises that they do something, they deliver, and the capabilities are usually quite robust,” said Dagg.

One other ability that Altair is now relying on Parasolid for is the simplification and smoothing over of modelings to convert a very detailed CAD model to something more CAE-ready. This entails removing anything from rounds and fillets you don't care about to smaller features like small ribs, pockets, holes and pinholes.

Making this possible is a recent shift in Parasolid from being a constraint-based “parametric” modeling system to being a more visual “direct” modeling system. So rather than having users edit constraints to remove these details from a model, Parasolid now enables users to alter the geometry in a simpler interface.

As for when you might see these updates coming into play, Dagg said that the recent Parasolid announcement has no impact on the recently released HyperWorks 12.0 The work that you'll see with Parasolid and HyperWorks will be instead be moved into the 13 and 14 releases. But because these updates will be spread over two releases, not everything will be brought to you at once.

Among the more immediate goals for Parasolid that should be met in the Hyperworks 13.0 release are feature detection and elimination-type tools. As for features that will be pushed back to meet long-term goals, Dagg was less specific, pointing to incorporating more solid modeling capabilities in general into the offering.

“It's limited to what CAE guys just have to have to get their job done,” said Dagg of HyperWorks updates in the long run.

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