Profile: OpenCASCADE

OpenCASCADE is a set of software libraries for building professional Computer-Aided Design (CAD) applications.  For example, design software must be able to specify the shape of an object, e.g. 32 feet long by 10 feet wide; display that shape in three dimensions with proper shading for each curved surface; and change the geometry parametrically.  Parametric changes occur a change in one part requires other parts to change as well: for example, adding two inches to the middle of a car requires longer doors, windows, roof, floorpan, fuel line, wires, etc.  CAD software facilitates such changes, and OpenCASCADE provides the subroutines to make that happen in a CAD program.

To demonstrate its versatility, the OpenCASCADE website includes:

In addition to CAD features, OpenCASCADE also provides some meshing capability for finite element analysis (FEA). Its visualization engine can display contour surfaces and streamlines based on output of FEA simulations. And it comes with more than thirty example codes from which one can build new applications.

OpenCASCADE began in 1993 as the proprietary CAS.CADE (Computer Aided Software for Computer Aided Design and Engineering) product of Matra Datavision, on which that company built its industry-leading CAD/CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) product called EUCLID. In 1998, Matra changed its business model to services, and in 1999 published CAS.CADE as the open source product OpenCASCADE. A year later Matra spun off OpenCASCADE S.A.S. as a new company focused on support for this open source product. This history makes for an interesting case study of opening the source code of a once proprietary product in order to expand market share and build a flourishing consulting business.

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