MSC snaps up SC/Tetra’s parent company

Dec 28, 2016 | Hot Topics

While we were all off sipping warm beverages, MSC Software made what was probably the last PLMish deal of 2016 when it acquired Software Cradle, makers of the SC/Tetra CFD software.

On December 15, according to Asian media outlets and confirmed on the Cradle website, “MSC Software acquired all of the stocks of Software Cradle … and Software Cradle has become an MSC Software company … [A]s a member of the MSC group, Software Cradle will continuously maximize its benefit through independent administration, marketing, and product development. With MSC, Software Cradle will promote the products worldwide as well as incorporate MSC products …”

MSC hasn’t said anything about the acquisition but CEO Dominic Gallello is quoted in Cradle’s announcement: “By combining Software Cradle’s powerful CFD solutions with MSC’s structural, acoustics and multibody solutions, we can now provide our customers more realistic behaviors and more certainty in their design process.”

You’ve heard of Software Cradle, even though you may be more familiar with it under the SC/Tetra brand. The company actually markets a number of products: scSTREAM, which uses a structured mesh as well as SC/Tetra, which uses an unstructured mesh. Structured meshes are simpler and faster to solve and are typically used for simpler shapes (think HVAC and AEC). Unstructured meshes use tetrahedral (4 triangular faces), pentahedral (5 planar faces), and hexahedral (yup, 6 planar faces) and can therefore more precisely represent complex geometry (think automotive, aerospace and marine). From the news releases, it sounds as though these products will continue to be maintained and marketed.

According to news reports, Cradle’s scFLOW will be incorporated into MSC’s Apex platform. scFLOW is Cradle’s latest CFD solver; Cradle says it has greater stability and “three times faster calculation speed (at maximum) than before, as well as the new Preprocessor which helps entry-level users build complicated models and high-quality mesh”. That same report also says that Cradle products will be purchasable via MSC’s One token-based licensing system.

I like this deal. The advantages for both Cradle and MSC are clear: MSC has far greater reach that Cradle and can bring its CFD to a global market. Too, Cradle has been developed over decades and has strong success in Japan — a crucial market for MSC and its competitors. It’s unclear what this means to Cradle customers who buy through the Altair HyperWorks Partner Alliance program; I’ve asked for clarification.

But the best part of this announcement is that little bit about “combining”. There’s no timeline in the announcement, but adding CFD to MSC’s existing structural, acoustics and multibody simulation offerings means that we can conceive of tightly coupled fluid/structure (SC + Nastran), complex motion (SC + Adams) and so on — leveraging MSC’s core strengths for more complete understanding of products and systems.

I’ve reached out to MSC for more information and will update as I learn more.

Quick update: MSC’s Dominic Gallello emails that he’s excited about the acquisition, but plans on talking about it publicly when there’s “incremental value to customers above and beyond what they are doing today.” In other words, when there’s more than an acquisition press release, perhaps with more info on product integrations. He also said it’s too early to know what will eventually happen with Cradle’s Altair HyperWorks Alliance partnership but that there are no plans right now to not continue it. And a general comment: Mr. Gallello says that Cradle customers he’s spoken with “love [Cradle] products because of their ease of use and speed. Their software is very high quality.”

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