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Tools and Products

Pages: pp. 96, 94-95


Clean, Green 3D Printing

Z Corporation—the only maker of multicolor 3D printers—announced the release of zp140, a high-performance composite material that reportedly introduces the world's easiest, safest, and greenest postprocessing option for finishing monochrome 3D printed models. Using a quick mist with tap water as a cure, monochrome parts made with zp140 now require no further treatment or equipment to reach their finished strength. This is more environmentally friendly than other approaches that use caustic baths or razor knives to set and finish monochrome parts.

In addition to water-curing capabilities, the material provides brighter whites (180 percent whiter than before), faster production, and lower cost per finished part. According to the manufacturer, it hardens in less than half the time of previous materials.

For more information visit

Boosts Processor Performance

Nvidia announced Model IV of its Quadro Plex visual computing system (VCS). This new computer model provides a unified architecture that includes either a Quadro FX 4600 or 5600 processor. These FX processors are useful because they dynamically allocate computing, geometry, shading, and pixel processing power to optimize performance.

Graphic: (a) Z Corporation's ZPrinter 450 creates (b) a sample 3D prototype using the new zp140 printing material that's more environmentally friendly

Figure    (a) Z Corporation's ZPrinter 450 creates (b) a sample 3D prototype using the new zp140 printing material that's more environmentally friendly

Additional features of the system include next-generation vertex and pixel programmability with Shader Model 4.0 (which enables higher performance and realistic effects for OpenGL and DirectX 10 applications); a 3-gigabyte frame buffer that delivers high capacity for interactive visualizations of large models and real-time processing of large textures; and frame synchronization, allowing display channels from multiple workstations to be combined into one large virtual display.

The VCS reportedly delivers a 20× increase in density compared to traditional solutions. Delivering a rendering power of up to 80 billion pixels per second and 7 billion vertices per second, the Quadro Plex can be configured as a single system or added to a visualization cluster for higher scalability.

Nvidia's Quadro Plex VCS Model IV costs $17,495. For more information visit


Automatically Surfaces Models

SensAble Technologies announced the release of version 9.1 of its FreeForm Modeling and Modeling Plus software. The latest version has several new features that let designers streamline the process of creating 3D virtual clay models, as well as preparing models for CAD/CAM assembly.

One of the major enhancements is an auto surfacing module, which saves product designers and model makers both time and expense as they prepare surface models for manufacturing. Now users can define parameters for auto surfacing in the software, export as IGES or STEP files, and then edit the model in their traditional CAD systems, such as Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks, and AliasStudio.

While the FreeForm system already provides a suite of surfacing tools, the auto surfacing module gives users a much faster surfacing option and improved interoperability with traditional CAD systems. It also saves many users from having to purchase an additional product to perform this function.

For more information visit

Graphic: SensAble Technologies' FreeForm Modeling Plus system with new auto surfacing module

Figure    SensAble Technologies' FreeForm Modeling Plus system with new auto surfacing module

Simpler Interface and Richer Animations

Toon Boom Animation announced the release of Toon Boom Studio Express version 3.5. In addition to being Microsoft Windows Vista ready, the latest version of this software provides significant improvements in animation creation and color palette management, as well as new special effects.

The product offers an improved, user-friendly interface (available in English and French) with an interactive welcome screen, help wizard, and timeline improvements. Other enhancements to the product include a drop-shadow effect to create richer animations, as well as PDF export capabilities (to preserve vector quality).

For more information visit

Exports to Apple TV

Elgato Systems released EyeTV 2.4, a free upgrade to its software that now includes one-click export for Apple TV. The feature functions in the same way as Eye TV2's easy iPod export button—select a video from the list of recordings and click the new Apple TV button in the menu bar. Alternatively, the export can be automated as part of the recording schedule.

The software also has more features available in the program guide. For example, areas of the timeline in which broadcasts are scheduled for recording are now highlighted in pink, providing the user with a quick reference. Another improvement is the progress bar that tracks program guide updates. This is particularly valuable for satellite users who have several channels and large amounts of program data to transfer.

For more information visit

Graphic: Elgato Systems' EyeTV 2.4 includes one-click export for Apple TV

Figure    Elgato Systems' EyeTV 2.4 includes one-click export for Apple TV

Quickly Translates Patterns

Test Systems Strategies announced two new software products to translate scan patterns—TD-Scan and TD-Sim. TD-Scan is designed to translate scan patterns in WGL or STIL format to a target ATE program format. Because the scan patterns come with timing parameters, the translation is a quick and proprietary syntax conversion process. TD-Scan supports ATPG outputs with compression technologies from Cadence, Mentor Graphics, and Synopsys. For functional patterns in a VCD or EVCD format, TD-Scan can be upgraded to TD-Sim.

TD-Sim is designed to translate scan patterns in WGL or STIL format as well as functional patterns from logic simulators in the format of VCD or EVCD event files. According to the manufacturers, a waveform-based engine can automatically detect clocks and cycle E/VCD files with a push of a button. Various filters are also available for event files that require conditioning before running a cycle. TD-Sim supports Verilog simulation outputs from leading EDA vendors.

For more information visit

One-Click Collaboration Upgrade

Adobe announced the release of its Acrobat 8 software. The software lets users start common activities—such as combining, signing, and protecting PDF files, interacting with PDF forms, reviewing and collaborating on documents, or launching a real-time Web conference—with a single click. All Acrobat 8 products, as well as Adobe Reader 8, provide one-button access to Connect 1 software, the company's hosted software service that provides access to a personal meeting room for real-time Web conferencing.

The Acrobat 8 product line introduces several major innovations in the areas of document collaboration, PDF content reuse, PDF forms, packaging multiple documents, and controlling sensitive information. Acrobat 8 also enables PDF content to be exported into popular formats to enable the reuse and repurposing of content. Additionally, PDF packages allow for grouping disparate information into what appears like a single document while preserving the individual files and security settings.

More information is available at

Unifies the Simulation Environment

Dassault Systemes announced the release of Abaqus version 6.7, a finite element analysis software suite. The latest version of this software introduces a new architecture for high-performance linear dynamics, advanced capabilities for composites simulation and nonlinear materials modeling, a new intuitive and highly customizable user interface for accelerated model building and visualizations, and two new interfaces for CAD associativity.

The new linear dynamics architecture in Abaqus is fully integrated with existing nonlinear capabilities, enabling engineers to share model data and results seamlessly across workgroups. This release provides the industry's only unified simulation environment for general-purpose structural integrity, powertrain durability, noise and vibration behavior, crashworthiness, occupant safety, and tire-roadway interaction.

For more information visit

3D Home Improvement

Cadsoft released Envisioneer 4.0, a 3D software that helps complete fast, accurate, and detailed construction documents. The latest version of the building information modeling system features an advanced drafting tool set for fast drawing and detailing; a new drawing worksheet module with powerful scaled page layout views; and many new country-specific construction options for Envisioneer's growing international user base.

Additional enhancements include powerful parametric model details to automate time consuming tasks such as the application of quoining and corner trim, improved framing features (such as including roof members and portal frame placement), and advanced precision wall insertion and openings to increase drawing speed. The software also includes certain industry integration improvements, such as support of the Google Sketchup (SKP) file format, complete with textures and additional remodeling tools (including additional kitchen and bath design detail options).

For more information visit

Imports and Edits 3D Parts

Autodesk's Inventor LT helps user create, share, and edit 3D part models from different CAD systems. The tool imports, exports, creates, and modifies 3D part models in many common file formats. Other capabilities include automated mechanical drawings, DWG format interoperability, and photorealistic rendering.

For more information including OS and system requirements, visit

Graphic: Engine rendered in Autodesk's Inventor LT

Figure    Engine rendered in Autodesk's Inventor LT

Enhanced Semantic Knowledge Retrieval

Invention Machine Corporation announced the release of version 4.0 of its Goldfire Innovator software. The latest version includes enhancements to the semantic search technology and enables closed-loop design. Additional features include an automated parts and functions finder, quality-driven value engineering analysis design, and cross-language semantic search capabilities.

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Free 3D Virtual Environment Tool Kit

The Croquet Consortium—a nonprofit consortium of academic and corporate partners—announced the release of Croquet SDK 1.0, a free software tool kit for developers to use in creating 3D virtual environments. The tool's 3D virtual environments can support live discussion among collaborators in real time within a 3D virtual space. Participants can view, manipulate, and revise documents, dynamic visualizations, and large amounts of data from sources such as laboratories or supercomputing centers.

The consortium's ultimate goal is to enable the creation of a series of interconnected "Croquet worlds" where people can engage in productive collaborative interactions without the constraints of proprietary computer code. The kit provides a built-in networked telephony and a late-binding, object-oriented programming language so that multiple users can jointly create, animate, or modify 3D objects and simulations. Developers can also import and share 2D Web applications and multimedia content from their own systems.

Visit for more information.

Recent Books of Interest

We think the following books are of interest to the computer graphics community:

  • O. Bimber and R. Raskar, Spatial Augmented Reality, 2007; available free of charge for individual use only at
  • T.K. Dey, Curve and Surface Reconstruction Algorithms with Mathematical Analysis, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006, 228 pp., $65.00, ISBN 978-0521863704.
  • L.G. Lamit, Moving from 2D to 3D CAD for Engineering Design: Challenges and Opportunities, BookSurge Publishing, 2007, 222 pp., $20.99, ISBN 1419664263.
  • W.T. Shaw, Complex Analysis with Mathematica, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006, 5988 pp., $75.00, ISBN 978-0521836265.
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