Designer Elements Series – the CAD-Reviews independent review

A level of functionality for every requirement

Designer Elements Series review screenshot

Designer Elements Series from Ashlar-Vellum

Ashlar’s product range Vellum Draft, Vellum 3D and Vellum Solids have been updated to form the Designer Elements series.

This comprises Graphite for drafting, Neon for 3D publishing, Argon entry level modelling, Xenon that adds history-based associativity and Class-A NURBS surface modelling and top of the range Cobalt offering parametrics, assembly modelling and additional drawing functionality.

The range is intended to allow the most appropriate tools to be selected for each application.

Vellum has always offered very intuitive sketching using the Drafting Assistant to dynamically indicate construction lines, snap points and alignments in 3D.

Freeform surfacing and solids capabilities are also retained in Argon, offering backwards compatibility.

Other supported data formats include ACIS SAT, IGES, STEP, DXF and DWG.

Although the range is available on both Mac and Windows platforms, Pro/E and ParaSolids converters are only available under Windows.

Mac roots are evident in the graphical feel of the interface and the inclusion of adjustable perspective, photorealistic rendering and animation as core functionality.

Animation options include walk throughs where the camera orientation is tangent to the path, fly bys where the camera moves along the path but remains orientated towards a fixed point and path animations where separate paths can be defined for both the camera and the reference point.

VR movies can also be generated.

The base Argon product enables 2D drawing views to be generated but these are not associative with the model.

Xenon introduces history based associativity to aid design modifications.

By updating base drive curves, dependent surfaces or solids are automatically updated.

A feature-based history tree Design Explorer allows child curves and properties to be accessed for editing.

Engineering properties such as centre of gravity, volume, weight, density and moments can be calculated.

Copies created using general transformation tools such as move, copy along path etc.

can be associative instances.

Associative drawing views can be automatically generated and associative model dimensions subsequently added.

Cobalt offers all the capabilities of Xenon plus additional functionality that is really necessary for serious engineering design.

Described as ‘more drawing composition options’, capabilities such as detail and auxiliary views and sections with automatic hatching are in reality essential.

Similarly assembly modelling with connect, mate, align and insert constraints is vital for accurate modelling of all but the simplest products.

Cobalt does however offer equation driven parametric modelling with the ability to animate variants by specifying dimension value ranges and the number of intermediate evaluation steps.

Other drafting functionality includes a Bill of Materials and GD&T and a mechanical part library is supplied.

Both Xenon and Cobalt include a bundled copy of Graphite the dedicated drafting package although export to Graphite or the earlier Vellum 3D will lose any associativity.

A free utility is available for viewing and printing Vellum files.

The Designer Elements series does offer multiple price points in order to allow the required level of functionality to be purchased.

The combination of surface and solid modelling tools and an intuitive graphical interface will appeal to a wide range of 3D creation users.

Xenon for instance is targeted at industrial designers but as a manufacturing design tool the top of the range Cobalt product is likely to be necessary.

Despite its flagship status however it does not offer functionality nor add-in modules for capabilities such as sheet metal modelling, multiple design configurations or associative links to engineering analysis packages as found in similarly priced MCAD modellers.

The Design Elements Series should enable almost any part top be modelled but despite Ashlar claiming Cobalt to be the ultimate product design and development tool it may not be the ideal tool for full product engineering.