by July 1, 2005 0 comments

CAD/CAM systems that utilize solid object modeling software are important tools facilitating design and manufacturing processes. Practices that previously required highly skilled specialty workers and reams of paper schematics are now handled using virtual 3D models transferred over the Internet. One software that does it is Open CASCADE. It is perhaps the only open source
application framework for CAD/CAM development. Other serious contenders are either proprietary or very expensive. While all
major releases of the framework are available for free, updates and support costs a lot of money. But, given the utility of Open
CASCADE, these costs probably don’t matter. Open CASCADE is best suited for high-end multi-billion dollar applications such as aircraft engineering, ship certification and formula one car designs.

Functional blocks
Open CASCADE provides a framework for rapid development of solid object modeling applications. The class libraries that compose this framework are functionally divided into six packages: Foundation Classes, Modeling Data, Modeling Algorithms, Visualization, Data Exchange and Application Framework.

Foundation Classes 


Applies to: CAD/CAM intensive enterprise users

USP: An open source modeling framework with custom feature set extensions, performs variety of CAD/CAM tasks

Primary Link: 

Google keywords: open cascade

implement dynamic memory management and storage, support primitive data types and geometric structures, and define many of the low-level mathematics operations common to solid object
modeling implementations. Modeling Data classes provide utilities for constructing complex 2D and 3D geometry, along with tools for approximating exact geometry. Modeling Algorithm classes handle constraint testing, intersection between multiple solids, and the interpolation of geometric data using processes such as
tessellation or meshing.  

Visualization classes manage presentation, selection and manipulation of displayable objects, and the application of lighting effects, textures and hidden line removal. Pluggable conversion support between a number of standard CAD data formats
including IGES, STEP, VRML, STL, Parasolid, and other formats is handled by the Data Exchange classes. Open CASCADE has its own document management system that tracks data, its storage and
visualization attributes, and exposes the same in a platform-independent manner. The Application Framework classes handle this.

Open CASCADE is used in mechanics intensive CAE applications like desiging high-performance formula one cars

Cross-platform support
Open CASCADE can be deployed on a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Linux and Sun SPARC. Open CASCADE 
applications come written in MFC, C#, Java and Qt. The only way to fully master Open CASCADE an inner working is by exploring its codebase. The available documentation, while detailed, touches only the most common aspects of packages and classes. 

The veracity of such a framework is strengthened by the weight of the names they quote as their clients. These include a veritable who’s-who from a cross-section of manufacturing industries and solution providers like BMW and TATA Motors, Alcatel, IRSN (nuclear radiation protection devices), NIC (India, for their CollabCAD package) and Formula Renault (Formula One racing team).

Sujay V Sarma, with inputs from Marshall Greenblatt, an Open CASCADE developer

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