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  1. Technology
June 14, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Alias Research Inc of Toronto, Canada, has developed software for computer aided industrial design applications which it claims can reduce product design-to-market time by 30%. The saving is made by enabling the designer to use data on screen which is more precise and conforms to engineering specifications. Engineering systems can run off a prototype straight from data provided by the designer. This cuts out the lengthy process of making a clay model of the design, letting the designer modify it and then digitising it for the computer aided design system. The basis for this integration between design and engineering systems is expanded support of neutral file formats IGES, VDA and DXF, and the incorporation of NURBS geometry – Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines. NURBS is an accepted engineering standard, so data can be transferred transparently to computer aided design systems. According to Alias, NURBS is also the basis for designing with more accurate curves and surfaces and more advanced modelling tools. Steven Lamb, marketing director at ECS which is distributing Alias in the UK says the three key improvements in this new version of Alias styling software are its surface accuracy, ray tracing abilities enabling the designer to take account of light reflections on the product, and its mapping techniques which include mapping fabrics and the probable environments of the product onto the geometry. Alias Studio runs under Unix on the Silicon Graphics Personal Iris, the 4D Series and IBM’s RS/6000. The RS/6000s were chosen above DEC or Sun workstations because of its Silicon Graphics graphics library interface. A turnkey system is available from ECS in the UK, for UKP75,000 using the 4D 20G Personal Iris. Software alone costs around UKP40,000.

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