Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Uses HOOPS to Deliver User Friendly, Hardware Agnostic Metrology Product
“On its own, HOOPS Exchange is a great CAD engine and HOOPS Visualize is a great graphics engine. What’s great, though, is how well integrated those two SDKs are with each other. I think that’s a key strength of Tech Soft 3D, and it absolutely impacts the type of user experience we can offer in our product.”
Dave Calkins, Software Architect, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
With approximately 22,000 employees across 50 countries, Hexagon is a global leader in sensor, software, and autonomous solutions. Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division – one of the major units within the company – provides solutions that use data from design and engineering, production, and metrology to make manufacturing smarter.
“If you can capture real-world quality data for measurement, positioning and inspection, you can gain actionable insights to make manufacturing processes smarter,” said Dave O’Neal, Product Manager at Hexagon MI. “That’s the promise of effective metrology.”
Given its multi-decade presence in the market, Hexagon offers several different metrology solutions, including its original measurement product – Spatial Analyzer – as well as a newer product, Inspire.
“Spatial Analyzer specializes in large part inspection – things like an aircraft, or a power plant, or a naval vessel,” said O’Neal. “Inspire, on the other hand, is a more generalized piece of software. It's meant to handle something as small as a consumer electronic or as big as a space shuttle.”
The difference between Inspire and Spatial Analyzer extends to Inspire’s overall user experience.
“The goal with Inspire was to create a very user friendly and intuitive product that anyone could figure out how to use without having to do a multi-hour training,” said O’Neal. “The product was also designed to be compatible with nearly any vendor’s hardware, so that customers can use Inspire regardless of what type of probes or scanning equipment they utilize and what kind of data they’re pulling in.”
In bringing this ambitious new product to market, Hexagon MI had to reckon with several key challenges.
“Being able to easily work with multiple data types while still making the product feel clean and cohesive rather than like separate modules that have been stitched together is no easy feat,” said Dave Calkins, software architect at Hexagon MI. “We have a smaller development team, just in terms of headcount, so we needed to be smart about how we went about building the product.”
Seamlessly Integrated SDKs Deliver Powerful Performance
The two key Tech Soft 3D SDKs that Hexagon turned to for Inspire are HOOPS Exchange and HOOPS Visualize. HOOPS Exchange is a toolkit that enables import of over 30 CAD file formats through a single API, and HOOPS Visualize is a high-performance graphics engine for rendering 2D and 3D CAD data.
While Hexagon leans heavily on HOOPS Exchange for Inspire’s CAD import and export functionality, which makes it easy for customers to bring in different types of scan and probe data, the company also makes use of a less heralded feature of HOOPS Exchange: its analysis capabilities.
“The analysis functionality in HOOPS Exchange might not get as much attention as the CAD data translation, but it’s actually very important to us,” said Calkins. “Inspire makes heavy use of the point projection and cross section analysis capabilities in HOOPS Exchange. It’s powerful enough that we haven’t had to incorporate a separate solid modeling kernel into the product.”
Meanwhile, HOOPS Visualize helps differentiate the product from other offerings in the market with its impressive rendering capabilities.
“The rendering of scan and probe data in Inspire just looks really great – it definitely catches peoples’ eyes,” said O’Neal. “The entire visual experience that Inspire delivers definitely helps our product stand out, and HOOPS Visualize plays a big part in that.”
Perhaps more than the performance of each SDK individually, Hexagon MI is impressed with the way the different HOOPS SDKs work together.
“On its own, HOOPS Exchange is a great CAD engine and HOOPS Visualize is a great graphics engine,” said Calkins. “What’s great, though, is how well integrated those two SDKs are with each other. I think that’s a key strength of Tech Soft 3D, and it absolutely impacts the type of user experience we can offer in our product.”
Calkins continued, “There are other CAD translation or graphics engines out there – but how well do they play with the other components? It’s hard to consider swapping in a toolkit from another vendor when Tech Soft 3D offers the level of integration that Exchange and Visualize provide.”
O’Neal echoed the value of partnering with Tech Soft 3D and using HOOPS SDKs: “CAD translation and graphics aren’t our core areas of expertise; it would take us forever to develop that kind of functionality and keep it up to date. We’re more than happy to offload that task to Tech Soft 3D so that we can focus on what we do best and deliver a really exciting product like Inspire to the market.”
-- Keep development team focused on core competencies by leveraging SDKs for CAD translation and graphics
-- Enable customers to easily work with multiple data types while presenting a seamless, user-friendly experience
-- Create a differentiated product that can reach new areas of the metrology market.