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Novellus Systems’ Senior Management Uses Alibre Design to Shorten Time to Market

Alibre Design Communicates New Product Concepts to Teams

Chip Design Trend Reports stated that in today's fast-moving electronics industry, achieving short time to market is the single most effective way of maximizing semiconductor sales and profit. Novellus Systems, Inc., a leading designer and manufacturer of semiconductor capital equipment, understands the importance of continually looking for ways to shorten their product development cycle without sacrificing product quality. During their concept and feasibility development stage, Alibre Design plays a major role in shortening their time to market as an easy-to-use 3D conceptual modeling solution that seamlessly shares files with other 3D CAD programs.

Challenge of Communicating Concepts

As is true of many large companies, Novellus had to figure out how senior managers not current in large assembly 3D CAD programs could communicate their next generation product concepts in a way that product teams could design the intricate details and develop them with as little rework as possible.

Progressing from Paper Napkin Drawings to 2D Designs

Novellus’s seasoned professionals originally sketched their product ideas on paper or whiteboards and handed them to their design teams. Realizing that the “proverbial napkin drawings” didn’t transfer enough knowledge, management began using Microsoft? PowerPoint to sketch 2D designs. Although the functionality was limited, the software allowed them to sketch in block geometry, save their work and send it electronically.

Moving on to Robust but Easy-to-Use 3D Solution

As senior director of plasma-enhanced CVD, John Rasberry was working on an idea for a new chemical vapor deposition (CVD) machine that would have multiple robotic components arranged around the common transfer core in a way that would optimize their positions to allow minimum clearances between each component while still enabling serviceability. He wanted to design a 3D model that was accurate in its dimensions and relative spatial positions but consisted of very simple block geometries and allowed him to rotate the complete configuration in 3D. Although he needed to convey a complex concept, he didn’t want to use a complex product that would require constant retraining and refreshing to stay proficient.

John remembered Alibre Design from when he was working on his MBA at the University of Oregon. Although he was skeptical that the low cost program would be full featured enough and easy to use, he bought a personal copy to give it a try. He initially had some start up problems and turned to Alibre Assistant. The real-time phone response allowed him to complete his project quickly. John said, “I was impressed with Alibre Design’s shockingly robust feature set and support for the price.”

Alibre Design Fills Missing Niche

John believes Alibre Design fills a niche that’s missing in conceptual modeling by providing the right tool for senior management to transfer their ideas in files that can be imported and used in the next stage of development. Some of the ways Alibre Design improves the process include:

  • Sketcher – John said, “Alibre Design’s new sketcher really shines. You can capture every bit of geometry you could before, but now you can do it in scale. Being able to look at aspects of a concept in scale during the concept and feasibility stage is hard to do when you are using generic block and circles in packages. Without having to learn a difficult 3D program, Alibre Design adds a higher level of communications to conceptual modeling.”
  • Speed – Since management uses laptops, they were pleased to find an easy but powerful 3D program that runs on their laptops without any problems.
  • Interoperability - Senior managers use Alibre Design like a “lump of clay” to model what they perceive to be marketing requirements. The files are sent to the teams to import them into Pro/Engineer to fill in details of 10,000 parts assembly and arrive at the final form factor design.

Improved Communications Saves Time and Money

John said that for years companies haven’t had the right tools for the concept and feasibility stage of development, and that causes a lag. He continued, “It is great to see that Alibre realizes the importance of decreasing the time to market and has developed a product that significantly reduces the new product develop cycle, saving us considerable money and providing us a competitive advantage. Because Alibre has the right product at the right time, companies who use Alibre Design can realize new gains.”

Product development is a risky business. The further along in the cycle, the more it costs to scrap the project and start over. In John’s case, if the team had completed three-fourths of the development on a form factor only to find out that it was too wide or long, then that would have cost considerable time and money. John said, “With Alibre Design, the team understands the concept requirements and gets to the end faster with fewer iterations. Our latest product development cycle was 15 to 20 percent faster because of the accuracy upfront.”

John offered congratulations to the Alibre team for developing a highly functional program that is easy to use by someone who does not spend his time in a detailed design role and for selling it at an economical price.

In closing, John said the following about Alibre Design, “Functionality + Price Point = Tremendous Value.”

About Novellus Systems, Inc.

Novellus Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVLS) is a leading design manufacturer of semiconductor capital equipment and full service provider to IDMs and foundries worldwide. The company’s nine product lines deliver value to customers by providing innovative technology backed by trusted productivity. An S&P 500 company, Novellus is headquartered in San Jose, California with subsidiary offices across the globe.