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Guest Editors' Introduction: Graphics in Advanced Computer-Aided Design

Frank Bliss, Electronic Data Systems
John Dill, Simon Fraser University
Carl Machover, Machover Associates

Pages: pp. 22-23

The last IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications special issue on CAD/CAM was in November 1995. Then, CAD/CAM was the major application for computer graphics with about 2.1 million PCs and conventional workstations used for CAD/CAM and more than 100 hardware, software, and systems and services vendors supplying products. Although 3D was available, it was more prevalent in research labs than design departments. In addition, the high-paying jobs were in creating 2D production drawings with some supplemental computer-aided engineering, such as finite analysis. Typical systems were closed, turnkey configurations with a single vendor supplying both hardware and software. The systems were sufficiently expensive that special rooms were assigned to CAD/CAM and users reserved time to use the facility or were assigned full time to a workstation.

This environment has undergone major changes in recent years. According to market studies from Machover Associates, in 2001, annual sales were about $20 billion (compared to about $12 billion in 1995). CAD/CAM now represents about 22 percent of the computer graphics market. Major price reductions accompanied by enormously improved performance has made the systems more ubiquitous. Today, more than 4.5 million PC and conventional workstations are installed for CAD/CAM. While drawing production is still a requirement, design and analysis have become significantly more important. Integration with other applications and, perhaps more importantly, with other enterprise functions is more widespread and important. As far back as 1986, Ford of Europe envisioned a six-phased evolution from department-wide single applications to company-wide CAD/CAM integration. 1 Today, we see that collaborative, rather than serial engineering, is fast becoming the norm. The articles by Corney et al. and Cera et al. address aspects of this trend, and Contero et al.'s article surveys the state of product data quality and collaborative engineering.

Almost all systems are 3D capable, although the use of 3D still isn't universal. Features like color, animation, and virtual reality enhance the systems' capability. Significant vendor consolidation has occurred with many of the pioneering suppliers defunct or absorbed into one of the four major surviving system suppliers (Dassault/IBM; AutoDesk; Electronic Data Systems; and Parametric Technology Corporation, or PTC). For some however, 3D geometry is essential to designing and building physical products, and leading-edge users are looking for ways to evaluate the user impact of 3D display technology, as the article by Kasik et al. discusses.

For this special issue, we've selected the four articles mentioned and a tutorial by Dorst and Mann on Clifford algebra, which provides an alternate method of representing geometry in CAD/CAM systems. We believe these articles represent a reasonable snapshot of significant characteristics of the new CAD/CAM environment. n


We'd like to thank the authors and reviewers for helping make this special issue a reality. We'd also like to thank the CG&A staff for their assistance in producing this issue.


About the Authors

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Frank Bliss is an engineering consultant at Electronic Data Systems. He has more than 30 years experience in CAD/CAM; computer graphics; workstation technology; and networks as a systems developer/implementer, user, and researcher. He has been instrumental in new technology development and implementation at EDS, Ford, Bendix, and the US Navy. He has a BSEE in electrical engineering from Wayne State University and an MS in systems engineering and a PhD in computer engineering from Case Western Reserve University. He received the GM President's Council Award in 1996 for leading a successful infrastructure project. He is on the editorial board of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications and is a member of the IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, and ACM.
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John Dill is a professor in the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada. He is also a founder and chief scientist of ThoughtShare Communications. His research interests include information visualization, engineering visualization, human-computer interaction, and intelligence in computer-aided design. He received a BASc in engineering physics from the University of British Columbia, an MS from North Carolina State University, and a PhD in engineering science from the California Institute of Technology. He is active in ACM's Siggraph and is an IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications editorial board member.
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Carl Machover is president of Machover Associates, a computer graphics consultancy. He is also an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, president of Art + Science Collaborations, past president of the National Computer Graphics Association, and a fellow of the Society for Information Display and Eurographics. He is editor of The CAD/CAM Handbook (McGraw Hill, 1996) and coexecutive producer of ACM Siggraph's video, The Story of Computer Graphics. He serves on the editorial board of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications and many other industry publications. He received the North Carolina State Orthogonal Award and was inducted into the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island Computer Graphics Hall of Fame.
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