Saturday, June 25, 2011

White Paper - The Benefits of Component Technology - Part 1

This blog covers the first part of our whitepaper on the benefits of component technology. Developed in conjunction with Spatial, the paper is written by David Plater, ModuleWorks and Howie Markson, Spatial. We will summarize the blog in 3 parts. The full paper is available on request by contacting either company via website or email.

Software component technology is now used by almost every CAD/CAM vendor in one form or another. Popular applications included 3D geometric modeling, data translation, visualization, toolpath generation and simulation.

Why is component technology so popular in the CAD/CAM industry? This white paper takes a look at component technology, the benefits and return on investment.

What is Component Technology?

Mill//Turn Simulation using ModuleWorks component technology
Component technology generally takes the form of a library, or set of libraries which is integrated into a host application. To the end-user, the component technology appears as a seamless part of the application. Components quickly add value to your product by enabling a rich set of functionality, increasing your market appeal and customer satisfaction.

Component technology licensing agreements usually expect a royalty element from each software sale or update which includes the technology. There may be some startup costs involved, but the main reward for the component vendor is when you get product to market so they are very motivated to help you do just that as well as ensure your product’s continued success in the
marketplace .

Why use Component Technology?

The Benefits

  • There are many reasons why an application developer chooses to use component technology. The main reasons can be summarized as follows:
  • Reduce your time to market to achieve quicker revenue generation and gain a competitive advantage. It is significantly faster to integrate proven, ready-made components than it is to develop them from scratch.
  • Opportunity to expand your product offering into new markets that would otherwise be out of reach due to resource constraints. Examples include simulation, 5-Axis machining,3D geometric modeling.
  • Allow you to focus on what you are good at. Make maximum use of your application development team by investing in your own areas of expertise. Reduced development costs. By using the components, you are effectively sharing the cost of development with other parties.
  • Complimentary components, allow faster development of broad solutions – for instance, ModuleWorks + 3D ACIS Modeler + HOOPS graphics are basic building blocks which are easily integrated through open API’s and supported through vendor partnerships.
  • The technology is developed by specialists in the particular field, giving you many manyears of intellectual property and access to expertise that is both scarce and time consuming (= expensive) to develop in house.
  • Most components are industry proven, so that many of the issues with introducing new technology are avoided, allowing your full efforts to be given to the integration work.
  • Popular components have a large number of end users and are in a diverse set of applications, helping to ensure high quality and reliability.

Common Pitfalls and how to avoid them

Selecting a component, plugging it in and introducing a product to the market are no guarantee of success. Some common challenges, with some suggestions for addressing them, are:
  • Choosing the wrong component or component provider. This can lead to limited functionality or performance of your application, or not having access to the support and services you need to be successful. Be sure to select a component based on your current and expected application needs, and choose a vendor that offers services to complement your own expertise.
  • Poor integration = Poor user experience. If the component is not properly integrated into your application, users may have limited functionality and workflows. Focus your efforts on integration that maximizes the capabilities of the component to differentiate your product and provide a good user experience. Make sure you get the training, support and services you need from the provider to be successful.
  • Choosing a component on price alone. Some components are available as open source,and the "no cost"licensing can be appealing. However, open source solutions do not have the full breadth of functionality and high-performance of commercially available components. Starting a development project on a component that does not meet your requirements can be a costly and time-consuming mistake. Be sure to choose a component based on your overall application and business needs, and not on price alone.
In the next part of this, we'll look at some example components and how they can be used in your application. See you next time.

The ModuleWorks Blogger


  1. I have never seen ModuleWorks Simulation that is used in Solidcam, Mastercam, CAMWorks and I'm sure others simulate multiple different parts at the same time. Can ModuleWorks actually do this?

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  2. Good Question. We posted a couple of video examples on YouTube to illustrate capability for part transfer and synchronization. First one shows Pinch Turn while the second shows part transfer.

    One of the things with component technology is that it is down to the vendor how the components are used in their products. End user products will also tend to lag the component because of the release cycle and time to integrate. In the case of complex mill/turn simulation, it doesn't come for free since the data needs to be presented correctly to the component and this can require significant development. Keep trawling the tradeshows and web and you will see this technology.


    The ModuleWorks Blogger.

  3. I read what you wrote, followed the links and watched the videos. I'm of the opinion (guess) that ModuleWorks Simulation can't practically do it and what I mean when I say can't practically do it is I think CAM vendors don't want to do a lot of work to get this functionality and expect ModuleWorks to provide the functionality in an easy to hook up to user interface.

    The bottom line is I need the ability to quickly simulate many different parts at once mounted to tombstones. Any idea when this functionality will be available in ModuleWorks Simulation in a quick and easy to hookup to user interface?

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

  4. Saw proof today that ModuleWorks can do multiple different part simulation. The system was Vero Visi-Series. Suggest ModuleWorks find a way to get your customer Vero to create some videos showing what the ModuleWorks Simulator can really do.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA