The challenge of interoperability is to retain model integrity when different software applications exchange and interpret model data. Transferring CAD data between heterogeneous CAD systems is a challenge because of differences in feature representation. A study by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) performed in 1999 made a conservative estimate that inadequate interoperability in the automotive industry costs them $1 billion per year. One critical part of eliminating the high costs due to poor interoperability is a neutral format between heterogeneous CAD systems. An effective neutral CAD format should include a current-state data store, be associative, include the union of CAD features across an arbitrary number of CAD systems, maintain design history, maintain referential integrity, and support multi-user collaboration. This research has focused on extending an existing synchronous collaborative CAD software tool to allow for a neutral, current-state data store. This has been accomplished by creating a Neutral Parametric Canonical Form (NPCF) which defines the neutral data structure for many basic CAD features to enable translation between heterogeneous CAD systems. The initial architecture developed begins to define a new standard for storing CAD features neutrally. The NPCF's for many features have been implemented in a multi-user interoperability program and work between NX and CATIA CAD systems. The 2D point, 2D line, 2D arc, 2D circle, 2D spline, 3D point, extrude, and revolve NPCF's will be specifically defined. Complex models have successfully been modeled and exchanged in real time and have validated the NPCF approach. Multiple users can be in the same part at the same time in different CAD systems and create and update models in real time.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





interoperability, heterogeneous CAD, CAD features, design history, neutral format, multi-user CAD, design cycle, collaboration, asynchronous messaging, MUObject, client-server architecture