Collaborative CAD promises to solve the major design challenge facing industry relating to interoperability and design sharing: translation between heterogeneous CAD systems. Translation issues alone account for upwards of $1 billion in costs for the US automotive supply chain. With collaborative CAD, parts and assemblies can be viewed and edited simultaneously by multiple users in geographically diverse locations, without the need to manually export and send models as neutral files. In order to attain interoperability between CAD systems, a neutral format is used to pass data between clients. By expanding the traditional neutral format to include interfaces, the object hierarchy more closely resembles the hierarchy employed by native CAD systems — allowing more feature information, and thus design intent, to be preserved. The interface method also enforces referential integrity in the neutral representation of CAD objects by limiting the type of objects to be referenced to valid objects. Corrupt and invalid data can be caught and corrected before being transferred to other users viewing the CAD model.

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