The first time we heard about Russian startup CADEX and its CAD Exchanger software suite, a shoemaker in Washington used the product to convert the IGES NURBS files for his shoe lasts so they would be high quality and 3D printable. The 2015 project was successful – previous conversion challenges were solved, because CAD Exchanger can support most broadly used file formats, and used its patent-pending algorithms to process and heal the IGES NURBS surfaces.
The startup has been busy since then: CAD Exchanger is used by over 6,000 engineers from more than 55 countries every month, and the product suite currently has applications for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, as well as a mobile app for Android phones and is available as an SDK. But now, CADEX is launching the beta version of a cloud service for 3D printing professionals that will increase performance and productivity for engineers by making collaboration more convenient.
“With CAD Exchanger Cloud we strive at helping design teams boost their productivity and reduce their headaches with 3D data exchange and sharing,” CADEX CEO and Founder Roman Lygin told 3DPrint.com.
CAD Exchanger Cloud accelerates the feedback loop and simplifies communication, allowing for a collaborative viewing of 3D designs and the capability to convert them to 3D printable file formats, like OBJ, STL, VRML, and X3D. Designers can also use the software to share 3D files with project managers, even if they don’t have any installed CAD software, as well as annotate designs and explore product structure.
“By providing designers with cloud-based data visualization, exchange and sharing tools we try to increase their productivity and reduce their costs,” Lygin told us.
“We built CAD Exchanger Cloud to boost productivity of design teams by eliminating interoperability issues and accelerating the feedback loop.”
Typically, if all the members of a project are with the same employer, the work is managed in a PLM system. But if several organizations are involved, it can be difficult to manage project collaboration. Issues such as what file formats to use and who has access – and how to protect one’s own intellectual property when sharing project files with a third party – can easily crop up.
Recipients of 3D models should also have CAD software involved in order to see project designs, which needs to be compatible with the software used to create the original file. 3D models sometimes have to be made from scratch because different CAD systems in a project are not compatible, which can cause delays, and even if parties install additional CAD systems or converters, or use neutral CAD file formats, the problems don’t always go away.
As CADEX puts it, installing a CAD system with all available features “is like shooting squirrels with an elephant gun,” due to the potentially unnecessary investment. On the other hand, converters are less expensive and easier to use, but licenses require annual maintenance and powerful hardware. And, while neutral formats are typically supported by most 3D viewers, the files may end up being incorrectly represented, or even corrupted.
The solution is CAD Exchanger Cloud, which CADEX built so engineering teams could design products together more quickly.
“Starting to work in CAD Exchanger Cloud is easy,” CADEX wrote. “Just sign-up and you can upload 3D CAD model, view it, convert to any available file format and selectively give an access to a certain circle of people, fine-tuning the access level for each participant. We focused on user-friendly interface to make our product suitable for both CAD veterans and those who had not had any CAD training at all.”
CAD Exchanger Cloud offers a 3D Viewer, which currently supports the most frequently used product design formats: ACIS, IGES, JT, OBJ, Parasolid, Rhino, STEP, STL, VRML, and X3D. More formats will be available later, and the maximum size of 3D files during the beta program is 50 MB. Users can also copy a small snippet of code to any web page to easily embed 3D CAD models.
The solution was created to make data exchange easier, so the file sharing functionality was carefully designed. CADEX offers both public and private file sharing, so users can store, annotate, convert, and share 3D CAD data quickly and easily.
The private version allows authors to share 3D files with specific team members, as well as manage an access list and easily change the provided permissions and status for team members. The public access option is perfect for freelancers who want to showcase their designs with a wide audience. Users will receive a regular URL for viewing the 3D model when sharing designs publicly, which can then be shared on social media platforms or sent to individuals. Passwords can be set for extra security, as well.
CAD Exchanger Cloud also offers annotations, in order to facilitate interaction and communication between team members, and takes the security of users’ intellectual property very seriously.
“It’s worth saying that several thousand cybersecurity experts are on a duty to protect your online data daily and nightly. We deployed our service on Azure infrastructure, which is held and managed by our technology partner – Microsoft Corporation, who provides state of the art security for modern web applications,” CADEX stated.
Additionally, CADEX offers private versions, which can be used in-house by businesses that can’t upload data to public environments because of privacy policies.
Even before this beta was released, the startup began receiving requests for CAD Exchanger Cloud API. Developers can rest easy, as the service will also be available as an API at a later date. CAD Exchanger Cloud is free during the beta; you can sign up now to try it out.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Images: CADEX]
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