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Machine Design

How to "Google" CAD

A recently developed search engine specializes in finding specific CAD geometry that matches criteria specified by the user.

A Cadseek user has found 10 close matches to the bearing on the left. The software works on parts and assemblies.

The Navigator in Cadseek can show a database index as a collection of spheres. This one holds 70,000 parts. Filters allow hiding all parts except, for example, hydraulic fittings, so users get a sense of the number of parts and assemblies being checked.

Called Cadseek, it comes from iSeek Corp., Ames, Iowa ( "Users can start searching with either a title or geometry close to what is needed," says CEO and founder Abir Qamhiyah. "You identify the approximate geometry and ask for, say, the 10 closest hits. The software responds with that number of items and a percent-If you find something that looks good, you can save it in a 'shopping cart' for examination later."

Qamhiyah demonstrated the software on a 70,000-part database from Deere & Co., an early adopter. Searches took the blink of an eye.

"Users could also search on materials, notes, or how the part was manufactured, almost any meta data," she says.

There is some prep work necessary before Cadseek will work on a database of geometries. The first step is to scan and process CAD files to generate accurate, lightweight versions of each model in an index file. A team from the developer guides this effort. Later, software called Listener updates the index as new parts enter the database.

The Navigator, another software component, represents the database as a collection of spheres or bubbles, each of which stands for a number of similar designs. In this visual representation of the index, large spheres are large groups of similar parts. As users click around the Navigator, it remembers the route. Hitting a back arrow retraces the path.

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