Bullish on the CAE Market: Tech Soft 3D Acquires Visual Kinematics
Michael Alba posted on November 11, 2020 |
VKI acquisition comes on the heels of another CAE acquisition, Ceetron AS
Visual Kinematics (VKI) offers the DevTools suite of CAE SDKs including the VisTools/Mesh library. (Image courtesy of Visual Kinematics.)

Visual Kinematics (VKI) offers the DevTools suite of CAE SDKs including the VisTools/Mesh library. (Image courtesy of Visual Kinematics.)

Engineering software toolkit provider Tech Soft 3D has acquired California-based Visual Kinematics (VKI). VKI develops a suite of software development kits (SDKs) called DevTools for computer aided engineering (CAE) applications.

VKI is Tech Soft 3D’s second acquisition in as many months. In October, Tech Soft announced it had acquired Norway-based Ceetron AS. Like VKI, Ceetron develops SDKs for the CAE market.

The two acquisitions represent a focused push into the CAE market. Tech Soft 3D CEO Ron Fritz told engineering.com that his company sees great potential in CAE. “Simulation is really everywhere now,” he said.

Pushing into CAE

Tech Soft 3D has been around since 1996, and in that time it has only made a handful of acquisitions. One was in 2010, when Tech Soft 3D acquired France-based TTF, the originator of 3D PDF, from parent company Adobe (rescuing the standard, Fritz once wrote). Then, in 2013, Tech Soft acquired tetra4D, a company which built end-user 3D PDF products.

That was it for a while, and Tech Soft 3D was content with organic growth for the better part of decade.

Then in February 2020, Tech Soft 3D found a benefactor. Battery Ventures, a technology investment firm, gave the company “a significant investment” to “fuel growth.”

Fueled up, Tech Soft 3D knew exactly where it wanted to grow. The company’s HOOPS suite of SDKs provide a broad range of graphics and data exchange components that are found in over 500 engineering applications. Of those, Fritz told us, around 50 are CAE specific.

“These two acquisitions allow us to go much deeper in those markets with much more purpose-built solutions for CAE,” Fritz said, adding “it's a market we're quite bullish on.”

Absorbing Ceetron and VKI

Ceetron’s visualization components are helping Tech Soft 3D go deeper into the CAE market. (Image courtesy of Tech Soft 3D.)
Ceetron’s visualization components are helping Tech Soft 3D go deeper into the CAE market. (Image courtesy of Tech Soft 3D.)

Ceetron and VKI were obvious choices for Tech Soft 3D’s expansion into the CAE market. For one thing, the three providers of engineering SDKs were “adjacent to one another for a very long time,” according to Fritz. Several applications use a mixture of the different providers’ components.

There’s also a significant overlap in clientele. While Tech Soft 3D won’t be gaining a large number of new customers with the acquisitions, the company hopes to deepen its existing relationships. Among these relationships are major CAD and CAE vendors including Autodesk, Ansys, Dassault Systèmes, Hexagon, Siemens, and more.

Though the three companies provide similar services, their respective toolkits are complementary for CAE. Tech Soft 3D’s portfolio provides CAD import tools and CAD to CAE mapping functionality. VKI offers pre-processing tools for mesh generation and study preparation. And Ceetron rounds off the portfolio with post-processing tools for visualization and reporting.

Tech Soft 3D components for CAE. (Image courtesy of Tech Soft 3D.)
Tech Soft 3D components for CAE. (Image courtesy of Tech Soft 3D.)

“With these applications we now have discrete component technologies that can solve specific problems,” Fritz explained. “We can also see creating a best-in-breed offering for developers of new CAE applications.”

Tech Soft 3D has not revealed plans for new products involving these discrete component technologies. For now, the company is committed to providing a smooth transition for customers using Ceetron or VKI components.

“Our first priority is to not break anything,” Fritz assured. “Second priority is to continue to expand those products using our global channel.”

Tech Soft 3D has not disclosed the details of either the VKI or Ceetron acquisition, other than its intent to support the existing partners and retain the existing staff of each. We asked Fritz if we should expect more acquisitions on the horizon.

“We are quite happy with making sure these two become very successful,” he replied. “But we remain open to, in the future, moving into other solutions that will help us be an even better strategic technology partner.”

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