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Features List 13
From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 18 No 02 - FEBRUARY/MARCH 2005
Pictures by PC is an all-encompassing design to manufacturing solution that has been around for as long as AutoCAD, and has many enthusiastic adherents in Germany.
Pictures by PC 3.2 is a total design and manufacturing solution for 2D
draughting, 3D solid modelling, 3D surface modelling, photorealistic rendering,
engraving, carving, mult-axis milling (including 5-axle), turning, welding and
Rather a strange name for a software package – especially a suite of CAD/CAM tools, but Pictures by PC 3.2 from Schott Systeme is very familiar to CAD users in Germany. After all, it has been around for a long time – a very long time, as it originated, and competed with, AutoCAD over twenty years ago. Originally the company developed a solution for handling simple graphics, but soon progressed into CAD as users found the notion of using computers to produce straight lines and accurate curves quite appealing. Acceding to customers requests, Scott Systems added CAM tools to the software, and have ended up with a total solution for CAD/CAM, based entirely on its proprietary IT tools. Everything that the company now has in its CAD/CAM solution has been developed in-house, apart from its use of the ACIS CAD engine, and a CATIA translation tool from Spatial.
Pretty advanced stuff, as well, as Schott Systeme were playing around with Bezier curves and surfaces, and deformable solids, before Autodesk started using them – NURBS as well – and the software now gives users a full selection of curves tools to model with.
Which all adds up to an impressive package that differs from other CAD/CAM solutions in that everything that a design company needs to take a product through from design to manufacture is available in one complete solution with no requirement for bringing in other software to handle specific functions, no compatibility issues, and complete accessibility of data from the earliest versions of the software to the current version. Costs are reduced, not least because design companies don’t have to shell out for maintenance packages from two or more different suppliers. Hence the complete satisfaction of one Germany company that has been developing composites for BMW using the software for the last 15 years.
And, as a bonus, Schott Systeme has been able to use the total IT solution to produce
A parametric Business Graphics package that enables users to produce very impressive 3D presentations that can be exported to software like Powerpoint for wowing prospective customers at conferences, or for use on the web.
So, why haven’t you heard about it? It’s a curious fact that, apart from some well known CAD software developers, a lot of advanced software being developed in various European countries remains constrained by that countries borders. Part of the blame, I suppose, could be lain at the doors of ourselves, CAD magazine publishers, who remain essentially ignorant of what is happening in Europe, follow a blatantly jingoistic line on news stories, and despair of getting advertising support from European developers. (We are doing something about this – see the report on MICAD 2005, the CAD/CAM show being held in Paris in April).
Schott Systeme’s software is, however, is being used outside of Germany, and an OEM version of the software is provided with CNC tools developed by ISEL Automation, some of which are in machine shops in the UK.
Pictures by PC is available as a complete design to manufacturing package. Everything is included within the standard package, apart form a couple of advanced modules for WireEDM, Turning and 5 axle simultaneous milling. The standard package costs just short of 10,000 Euros, and there are no annual charges for software support or machine post processors. Scott Systeme has also set up a free e-learning web site for its customers.
The Business Graphics package is a separate solution that adds a selection of business tools to Pictures by PC, including an XML editor that provides parametric templates for business graphics.
Pictures by PC
So, what does the ‘Total’ solution include? Rather more than I can detail here, without preventing me from adding some of the new functions available in version 3.2. Users can start with 2D Mechanical CAD for quick component draughting, with automatic routines for gear profiles, screw connections, etc for producing detail views, BOMs and part ballooning. Or, alternatively produce concept design using Bezier based geometry and other artistic tools, converting them into 3D models and displaying using the companies own Open GL based rendering and lighting effects.
Bitmap vectorisation allows bitmap images to be incorporated and used as CAD data, which can then be transformed into Bezier curves. Font tools also use Bezier curves, creating Bezier based postscript fonts, supplemented by advanced kerning tools.
3D Mechanical solid modelling, conceptual solid modelling. 3D surface modelling, with all of the features that you would expect from them, including extrusions, revolutions, fillets, lofts, sculpted fillets and shape deformation using bends and twists. Pictures by PC combines surface and solid modelling as a typical hybrid modeller. Surface modelling allows users to create surfaces using Bezier, NURBs, ACIS or Coon tools, and allows users to modify surfaces further by offsetting, trimming, filleting, scaling and deformation.
Mould separation tools automate core and cavity separation and creation using dedicated separation functions. Splitting tools find silhouette curves for any selection of surfaces and automatically separate these to another drawing, trimming them as separate silhouette parting lines.
Maching is handled by a range of tools, including 2,5 axle milling, 3 axis milling, 4th Rotary and 3 + 2 axis multi-sided machining. 5 axis simultaneous machining is provided by one of the few tools that are not included in the standard solution. Toolpath simulation, is, of course, included. Turning and Wire EDM are the two other optional extras. Post processor generators, for all models currently supported by the software – and also for new machines added at a later date, are included in the standard package.
Additonal tools for Data import and repair, supporting industry standard formats, such as DXF, AI, EPS, IGES, BMP, TIF, SAT, VDA-FS and STL, come with Checking, Error analysing, Healing and Cleaning functions.
Pictures by PC even includes its own programming language, BIX, which can be used to generate routines that can be used to speed frequently used functions. BIX, according to Schott Systeme, is easily mastered by experienced users.
New Features in Pictures by PC.
Underpinning some of the new functions is an improved graphical interface, speeding up 3D work, and the inclusion of ACIS release 13 modelling kernel with advanced modelling features.
3D users now have, for instance, a combined interactive translation tool for Move, Rotate and Scale, simplifying the selection of each axis.
New deformation tools include Twisting – the ability to apply a twisting effect with a specified angle between two points to ACIS surfaces or solids – and Bending, enabling ACIS solids and surfaces to be ‘bent’ around a central axis defined by a 2.5D plane, or a number of given points.
It’s curious how new terminology appears simultaneously in a couple of reviews. Such a word we’ve never used before is Skinning, the ability to create a solid or surface skin between multiple cross sections. Not a new function, but here, in addition to the selection of multiple cross sections, multiple guide curves can now be used to influence the shape of the skin. Furthermore, the resulting surface is more amenable to additional filleting and shelling operations.
The ability to create sculpted 3D shapes is improved with the ability to apply a fillet to a model whilst adhering to a ‘hold’ line, using a 2.5D or 3D curve or polygon as the termination boundary for a fillet – and providing greater control over the aesthetics of the final blend.
Blending is also improved with Tangential Blending – smooth joints between two surfaces or solids –which can be weighted to improve the blend.
Complex solid and surfacing operations require a more robust modelling kernel, with grate tolerance levels. This is provided with the latest ACIS kernel – enabling bad surfaces to be stitched together more easily and reliably to form new surfaces or solid bodies.
New CAM Functions
CAM tools include 3D Surface Milling, which are ideal for producing electrods, prototype models and mould tools, either as roughs or finished models. Machining features include pluge roughing and intermediate Z-level contouring roughing, and multi-threaded toolpath calculation.
Pictures by PC can also be used for font work, and intricate sign or logo work, including the ability to project engraved designs onto 3D surfaces and solids.
Tool movements are displayed as on-screen simulations, with tools for controlling speed and tools, Once the path has been visually checked, a CNC programme can be generated using post-processors, specific to the target tools.
A flavour of the software, no more nor less. And I didn’t get time to write about Business Graphics. You can rectify that by logging on to their website, which provides downloadable videos that illustrate many of the software’s functions – and will give you a feel for the display.
Click here for a Print Friendly Version
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