Monday, June 24th, 2013
This new IMTSTV In Brief features Steve Frizinger, NetApp’s Virtualization Alliance Manager, Java Author and Economics Writer, about the current state of the manufacturing industry. Steve explains how competition and technology are driving the industry’s pace, and why companies must adapt to this change if they want to survive. He also cites MTConnect as one of the leading factors for the pace change, and how it has allowed the entire industry to achieve and maintain a greater level of efficiency.
Steve also speaks about the future of manufacturing jobs in America. He offers a solution to student debts and 4-year degrees that provide few benefits. Steve explains how trade schools expose students to new and exciting opportunities never before seen in manufacturing. With these trade schools, students will be able to begin their manufacturing careers earlier and without having to repay thousands of dollars in student loans.
As the industry continues to evolve, Steve predicts that thriving in manufacturing, for both companies and workers, will be based primarily on intellect and innovation.
Friday, June 21st, 2013
Earlier this week, a performance took place in Paris that merged the worlds of art and 3D technology in a way that will forever change how dance is presented and enjoyed by audiences.
The performance, known as “Mr. and Mrs. Dream” followed the story of two characters who have escaped from the imagination of their author, Eugène Ionesco, and wander through his plays like stages of their lives. They pass through time, reinvent their history, dream of their love, and measure themselves against reality in the space of a moment.
The performance was conceived and produced by two celebrated choreographer–dancers, Marie-Claude Pietragalla and Julien Derouault (http://www.pietragallacompagnie.com/pietragalla/) – and 3D design technology company Dassault Systèmes (www.3ds.com). The company helped them visually translate the story, designing the sets for each scene. Immersive virtual reality and interactivity specialists took on the challenge of creating a “magical box” in which the virtual world would unfold and into which Mr. & Mrs. Dream would be plunged, live on stage. The set design became a third character, in symbiosis with the dancers.
What makes this so interesting is that the same 3D design technologies that were designed to be used for big industrial projects, such as the creation of a jet airplane or the latest automobile, can also be used to create a work of art that evokes nuances of feeling, provokes emotional responses, highlights the beauty of movement, and enhances the magic of such a show.
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Every wondered what you could do if you had a high I.Q.? Or, better yet, what you could do with a normal I.Q., creativity and a fascination with engineering? The new Discovery series ‘The Big Brain Theory’ is truly inspirational as it pits talented engineers against one another in challenges that tap into the contestants’ creativity and technical acumen to solve real world design challenges on paper, and then fabricate and prove their designs in real world tests.
I’m hooked on this series, and I’m sure that anyone who loves engineering, solving complex problems, and gets super excited when they see their ‘baby’ perform to spec will be entertained, inspired, and motivated to get into the mix.
The first season of eight episodes just ended, but if you’ve got access to cable-on-demand, or a computer, a web browser, and can remember “YouTube.com” then you in for a real treat.
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
I just returned from the PTC Global conference in Anaheim where I was treated to a truly immersive virtual experience. David Blacklock of VIRTALIS demonstrated their Active Wall where I got the chance to get my virtual hands dirty by virtually building a wind turbine … blade by blade.
VIRTALIS allows you to take any model and then interact with it in an immersive 3D environment where you’re able to walk around and examine the life size model and then use your ‘hand’ to interact with the projected 3D model just as if it were the real thing.
There are a wide array of applications for this new technology in many fields including the mechanical and manufacturing space. You could, for example, be immersed in a virtual manufacturing floor and then operate the machinery as a learning experience, or you could use their system to examine and get your ‘hands’ on a virtual prototype before finalizing your CAD design.
Watch this short video to get a glimpse of the VIRTALIS ActiveWall and then navigate to the VIRTALIS web site to get more ideas on ways you can use this modern age tool to meet your every day engineering and presentation needs in an engaging new way.
By David Heller
Monday, November 12th, 2012
Commentary by MCAE industry veteran Dennis Nagy
November 11, 2012
A historic event: the largest acquisition in the history of the mechanical engineering simulation software market (MCAE)
On Thursday (Nov. 8, 2012) Siemens announced its intention to acquire LMS International of Leuven, Belgium for EUR 640M (~$865M), topping previous acquisitions of Ansoft ($824M) and Fluent ($589M) by ANSYS in 2008 and 2006, respectively. Two professional MCAD/MCAE pundits whom I highly respect (Monica Schnitger and Jeff Rowe) have already written on Friday (Nov. 9, 2012) about the facts of the announcement, so I will not repeat those here. As a 40-year MCAE industry veteran (ironic that I write this on Veterans Day) who has worked in the past for or with both Siemens and LMS in the specific area of MCAE, I am particularly familiar with both parties to this acquisition and I have clear views on what I think it will mean for the engineering simulation software industry going forward.
LMS started in 1980 as Leuven Measurement Systems*, a mechanical vibration testing company, and has been a leader (both in thought and action) in the combination of mechanical vibration/dynamics testing and MCAE for almost two decades now. They have always realized the synergy between simulation and testing (not simulation vs. physical testing) and have delivered on that synergy with software, testing hardware, and related consulting for their growing customer base in automotive, aerospace, and other industries. So Siemens (and their Siemens PLM [SPLM] Business Unit, into which LMS will be integrated) gains both a strong mechanical testing software/hardware presence and a highly-respected set of MCAE/testing consulting engineers.
In the traditional MCAE software arena, SPLM will have some shorter-term tactical challenges in positioning (and integrating), marketing, and selling their multiple/overlapping offerings in finite element modeling/analysis (FEM/FEA) and multibody dynamics simulation (MBD) through their multiple sales channels.** I am confident that SPLM and LMS (both known for their solid, professional management teams) will find ways to overcome these merger-related birth pains and be able to focus on the much more strategically significant (to me, at least) move into Mechatronics that this acquisition represents.
Key statements in the Siemens and LMS acquisition press releases (my emphases italicized/bolded) support this view:
- “LMS is the only provider in the world that offers complete platforms for physical testing and Mechatronic simulation, including model-based systems engineering …
- “Siemens will become the first product lifecycle management (PLM) software company to provide a closed-loop systems-driven product development solution… [and] will enhance our core competencies by adding model-based simulation…
- “The manufacturing industry faces a significant challenge of efficiently developing the right products while mastering the growing complexity of next generation products. One aspect of this growing complexity is the rapid expansion of products integrating mechanical systems, electronics and software, referred to as mechatronic systems. With the acquisition of LMS, Siemens is well positioned to deliver PLM solutions where the mechatronic systems in a new design will simultaneously be optimized.”
The convergence of mechanical and electrical/electronics engineering needs (including embedded software in digital controls) has rapidly descended upon the traditionally decades-long separate vendor markets of MCAD/MCAE and ECAD/EDA/ECAE. We only need to look at the rapid evolution of digital electronic cost content in automobiles over the past decades (electronics from 10% in 1970 to 40% in 2010 and embedded software from 4% to 13% in 8 years [2002-2010]), to sense that meeting design requirements now demands a more integrative engineering approach at all levels from system to sub-system to component design.
LMS acquired the French company Imagine, and its promising product AMESim, in 2007 and has been heavily promoting (with apparent success) the resulting LMS Imagine.Lab platform for system simulation and Model-Based System Engineering (MBSE). SPLM previously had no real offering in this emerging MBSE space and now arguably jumps to the head of the class. Dassault Systems (DS) does have a similar product in Dymola, but it is housed in the CATIA business divisions of DS, separate from the rest of DS’s MCAE line in Simulia, and seems more competitive with MATLAB/SIMULINK from MathWorks (a whole other story). ANSYS has a lesser (in my opinion) product in SIMplorer (acquired as part of the Ansoft acquisition in 2008), and finally MSC acquired, with great promise, EASY5 from Boeing way back in 2002 but seems to be slowly starving it to death since then, choosing to focus instead on acoustics and materials simulation with its recent smaller acquisitions and partnerships and some aspects of MBSE in its traditional MBD line (MSC.ADAMS and related tools).
SPLM now has the ingredients to respond to the growing need for integrated mechatronics/MBSE simulation environments. Some astute automotive engineering observers believe that the obstacle to such integration (and corresponding vendor success) lies more with the traditional “silo” organizational structures of major automotive OEMs than it does with available pieces of tools and technology. But that’s a whole other topic. Stay tuned!
*At the time LMS was founded in 1980, the clear leader in modal analysis-based mechanical vibration testing was Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC) of Milford (outside Cincinnati), Ohio (and I worked for SDRC at that time). SDRC also had a good presence in MCAE and decided to grow outward in different directions from the mid-1980s through 2000 (into 3-D MCAD and PDM), losing its mechanical testing interest and consequently its lead to LMS. LMS, in turn, realized the future required a strong synergy between MCAE and testing and created their LMS Virtual.Lab platform in response to that need. SDRC was taken private by EDS and merged with Unigraphics in 2001, later to be spun out again as UGS and eventually acquired by Siemens as their new Siemens PLM Business Unit in 2007. Now that SPLM is acquiring LMS, the many former SDRC employees/executives who are still in key positions with SPLM are finally getting their mechanical testing mojo back!
**More specifically, SPLM will have the following technology/positioning issues to deal with:
- Four MCAE/Finite Element modeling(FEM)/visualization environments: FEMAP, NX CAE (both currently part of SPLM, one linked to SolidEdge, the other to NX CAD); LMS Virtual.Lab and CAESAM (from LMS’s recent acquisition of Samtech). (I coincidentally wrote last year, as a consultant to CIMdata, a white paper entitled “Modern Engineering Simulation Environments: Maximizing the value of your CAE investments” on SPLM’s NX CAE as an example of a comprehensive MCAE environment meeting today’s needs.)
- Three multi-body dynamics (MBD) tools: RecurDyn (OEMed by SPLM from Korean company Function Bay), LMS Virtual.Lab Motion (the DADS MBD software acquired by LMS in 1996), and MECANO from Samtech.
- Two Finite Element solvers: NX NASTRAN (acquired by SPLM from MSC as part of an FTC settlement imposed on MSC), and Samcef from LMS Samtech.
- Two optimization solutions: LMS Virtual.Lab Optimization (formerly LMS Optimus, spun out as Noesis [I worked as a consultant to Noesis in 2003] and sold to Cybernet Systems of Japan last year), and LMS Samtech’s BOSS quatro.
About Dennis Nagy
Dr. Nagy, a 40-year veteran of international experience and accomplishments in all aspects of the engineering simulation (CAE) software business, currently provides global business development and industry/market analysis consulting to multiple CAE/PLM companies. Prior to his current consulting practice, he held various executive positions in the CAE world, including VP of Marketing and Business Development at CD-adapco, CEO of Engineous (now part of Dassault Systemes/SIMULIA), Senior VP of Worldwide Sales at MSC.Software, VP of Marketing at Fluent (now part of ANSYS), and VP of International Business Development at Blue Ridge Numerics (now part of Autodesk). He also taught at Princeton and did CAE research at the University of Stuttgart. Dr. Nagy is an engineering graduate of MIT (BS, MS) and the University of California, Berkeley (PhD).
Sunday, November 4th, 2012
A conversation with Nikolai Golovanov,
the head of ASCON’s C3D geometric kernel development team
There is not always a clear understanding in the CAD community about where the geometric kernel ends and the CAD program begins. What is a geometric kernel, and what job does it perform in a CAD system?
We call the geometric kernel the part of a CAD system that makes the mathematical model of real and theoretical objects.
Our C3D kernel is an independent software component that consists of five groups of functions and algorithms. The first three groups are parts of C3D’s Modeler module:
- The first group handles basic objects and algorithms. Basic objects include vectors, matrices, points, curves, and surfaces. The algorithms handle tasks like finding intersections of objects, joining objects, and projecting them.
- A second group consists of the objects and algorithms needed to construct and modify 3D bodies.
- The third group consists of objects and algorithms for doing surface triangulation, calculations of inertial characteristics of models, checking for collisions among elements, and constructing projections of 3D models to the drawing plane.
- A fourth group makes up C3D’s Solver module, consisting of algorithms that apply geometric constraints on and between objects. These constraints establish relationships between the elements of variational geometry.
- The fifth group is C3D’s Converter module, and it provides the data exchange facilities to read 2D and 3D models from other CAD systems.
There are several geometric kernels available on the market today. By which criteria should they be compared?
A geometrical kernel is characterized primarily by its functionality. It has to provide all the functions needed by the programmers working on their CAD software. In addition, it needs features like speed and reliability. The quality of the geometric kernel greatly impacts the quality of the entire CAD system.
For us as developers, the important aspects of a geometric kernel are its structure, its simplicity of use, and the clarity of its algorithms. These features enable developers to produce a software product in the minimum of time and with the lowest expenditure of resources.
What role does the geometric kernel play in the final product?
In our own CAD system, KOMPAS-3D, we found that the C3D geometric kernel is less than one-fourth of the program code, when measured by the amount of source code and the size of executable files. The complexity of developing the geometric core, however, is significantly larger than the complexity of the rest of the CAD system. This is evidenced by the fact that there are several times more CAD and other modeling systems in the world than there are geometric kernels by themselves.
ASCON is the only software company in Russia to publish a kernel, and one of only a very few in the rest of the world. What does this mean for you?
At the end of the last century, almost all Russian CAD systems had their own private geometric kernels. However, the core functionality of these CAD systems lagged behind their global peers. Because of the great complexity of making improvements to one’s own geometric kernel, many Russian CAD companies abandoned their development efforts, and then purchased ready-made kernels.
Our company, ASCON, took a different route. We decided to continue developing our own kernel. As a result, KOMPAS-3D is now the only Russian CAD system successful at competing globally. And, of course, to develop a world-class geometric kernel is not just difficult, but also is an extremely interesting task. We proud of the results of our work, and enjoy working on it!
For a long time, your kernel remained internal to ASCON. Now, any developer can license C3D. What caused you to make this change?
It was the demand from international customers that caused us to change our minds. And so today, in our kernel development work, we rely not only on the needs of our own KOMPAS-3D developers, but more importantly on the wishes expressed by our new international customers.
For example, with the kernel being a standalone product, it had to get its own security system and we added component-specific licensing. We are actively translating the documentation into different languages. Other than this, development is proceeding as before: we constantly improve the algorithms, add functionality, and work on advancing the speed and reliability.
Tell us a little bit about the team working for you on the kernel.
Our team consists of experienced professionals, as well as new employees. All are graduates of leading universities and technical institutes. The backbone of the team consists of Aleksandr Maksimenko, Andrew Penquin, and Yuri Kozulin. Each of them is responsible for an important part of the work.
Nevertheless, we are constantly looking for talented professionals who can help us develop the C3Dkernl in new directions.
Many thanks for this interview!
About Nikolai Golovanov, the head of C3D geometric kernel development team, ASCON
Nikolai Golovanov is a graduate of the Mechanical Engineering department of Bauman Moscow State Technical University as a designer of space launch vehicles. Upon his graduation, he began with the Kolomna Engineering Design bureau, which at the time employed the future founders of ASCON, Alexander Golikov and Tatiana Yankina. While at the bureau, Mr Golovanov developed software for analyzing the strength and stability of shell structures.
In 1989, Alexander Golikov and TatianaYankina left Kolomna to start up ASCON as a private company. Although they began with just an electronic drawing board, even then they were already conceiving the idea of three-dimensional parametric modeling. This radical concept eventually changed flat drawings into three-dimensional models. The ASCON founders shared their ideas with Nikolai Golovanov, and in 1996 he moved to take up his current position with ASCON. Today he continues to develop algorithms and to improve the C3D kernel.
Learn more about C3D at http://ascon.net/solutions/c3d_kernel/, http://www.facebook.com/C3Dlabs or https://twitter.com/C3Dlabs
Monday, July 30th, 2012
Personal 3D Printers
The additive manufacturing (AM) industry is experiencing staggering growth in low-cost “personal” 3D printers. These are products that typically sell for about $1,000 to $2,000 and are available as a kit or assembled machine. The majority originated from the RepRap open-source machine development at Bath University in the UK. RepRap is based on fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology developed and commercialized by Stratasys in the early 1990s.
Professional-grade, industrial additive manufacturing systems are those that are established in industry and sell for more than $5,000. Sales of these systems grew by an estimated 5.4% (CAGR) to 6,494 units in 2011, excluding personal systems. This compares to an estimated 6,164 systems sold in 2010 (also excluding personal systems), which resulted in impressive growth of 37.4%.
Personal 3D printer unit sales grew 289% in 2011, with an astonishing 23,265 units believed to have been placed, as shown at http://wohlersassociates.com/p3dp.html. However, personal 3D printers represent just $26.1 million of the total market for AM systems sales in 2011. If the personal systems category continues to grow at its current pace, it will quickly become an interesting market segment for system developers and investors.
Note: The previous information was taken from Wohlers Report 2012, a 287-page global study focusing on the advances in additive manufacturing and 3D printing worldwide. A detailed overview of the report, as well as additional information on the market and industry, are available at http://wohlersassociates.com.
Wohlers Talk: Why Most Adults Will Never Use a 3D Printer
Many have speculated on whether everyday consumers will purchase and use a 3D printer. With prices dipping to $350 for a kit and $550 for an assembled system, they are certainly affordable. Some believe that a 3D printer will someday be in every home and used to produce replacement parts as household products break or wear out.
As shown by Shapeways, Materialise, FutureFactories, Ponoko, and others, consumers are definitely interested in products made by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Shapeways claims to be producing more than 90,000 parts (about 25,000 products) per month by AM, with a high percentage going to consumers. For years, Materialise’s .MGX division has offered striking lighting designs, sculptures, and other products, with consumers paying hundreds of euros for one of them.
Indeed, consumers have an appetite for products made by additive manufacturing. However, most consumers will never own or operate a machine to produce these products. Instead, they will go to Shapeways, Amazon, or to another service or storefront to purchase these products. Most will not know, or even care, how the products were made—no different from the way they now purchase products. Consumers only care about receiving good value.
Someday, a company will offer a very low-cost, easy-to-use, and safe 3D printer targeted at children. This market opportunity, I believe, is very big because children like to imagine, create, touch things, play, and entertain themselves. These kids will be producing vehicles, action figures, puzzles, and just about everything imaginable. They are our future designers, engineers, and manufacturing professionals.
Most parents and adults are not candidates for a 3D printer. They do not want to mess with the data, manufacturing process, clean-up, and finishing of parts and products. Even if they owned or had access to a machine, it would probably not be capable of producing parts in the right material with the mechanical properties, color, surface finish, and texture needed for the part(s) they are trying to create or replace. These types of parts will continue to be produced by industry professionals and that’s why most adults will never use a 3D printer.
Note: Wohlers Talk is a blog that offers views, perspective, and commentary on rapid product development and a wide range of other topics. More than 250 commentaries have been published. To read them, visit http://wohlersassociates.com/blog.
Plastics News Additive Manufacturing Seminar
In this seminar hosted by Plastics News, learn how to leverage additive manufacturing to assist with rapid product development and the manufacture of parts that go into final products. Tim Caffrey, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates, is one of four featured speakers. Go to http://www.plasticsnews.com/am2012 to learn more about the program and register.
Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Social Media has been the fastest growing phenomena and the one with the largest impact in our lives since the IT industry exists. In just a few years, it went from inception to creation of $ 100B+ value (collective market caps). Facebook’s IPO, although it was considered as a technical-financial failure, was not just a record breaking valuation, but an example of record breaking growth rate for a company founded in 2004. It came after a series of other record breaking IPOs in social media, including LinkedIn, the leading professional social network, Zynga, the leading social gaming platform, Groupon, the leading Social buying platform, Yelp, the leading social rating platform, etc…
Is the Social Media Phenomena just another technology bubble?
Not really. In fact, the tech bubble in 1999 and 2000, was about IPOs and high market caps on companies with no revenue, and obviously no profits. Social Media companies today are all generating revenue and are profitable ! Moreover, younger generations just can’t live without them. They need to share, interact communicate and collaborate almost in real-time. So dear older generations, Social Media is here to stay, get over it!
How did we get here?
Search for the roots back in 1979 with the BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), and then the network and the web. Social Networks are simply the connection of people through networks becoming mainstream, enabling them to socialize digitally. Consequently people are replicating their human interaction habits from distance, easier, faster, cheaper, in a very convenient manner, and almost in real time. Social Networks are here for good and to stay, simply because human beings are born to live in societies, and not alone.
Can we truly collaborate socially on product design and PLM?
The same way human beings are not born to live alone, engineers, designers and more generally employees are not expected to work alone. In a similar way, and to increase efficiency and productivity, and to save time, management is looking into ways to enable collaboration, through the extended enterprise, easier, faster, cheaper, in a convenient manner and almost in real-time. Exactly like our digital life described above, just like when we socialize. This is social collaboration. So yes, not only we can, but also we should collaborate socially.
Why has Social PLM been slow to pick up?
It’s not a surprise to see PLM picking up social habits slowly, just like some other enterprise processes and tools. Keep in mind that B2B has always been slower than B2C and Manufacturing Industries and engineers have been slower in adoption than marketers and media. Combine all these factors and you understand why it’s been slow. It is right now struggling with a few challenges, including the questions and concerns about security (similar to the concerns about individual privacy on social networks). Tools and processes are right now fine tuning the control buttons so that security issues become under control. Other enterprise applications are also getting more social. CRM applications , for instance, have already become a lot more social, some having replicated the social networking mechanisms and processes inside their own models. SalesForce’s chatter is a good example of a convenient and handy social vision of CRM users daily interactions.
Interested in more in-depth answers to the above questions and a lot more subjects around social collaboration, product design and PLM? Then mark your calendar for Social PLM 2012.
CEO of Altadyn Corp.
Chairman of 01consulting
Thursday, November 17th, 2011
I downloaded Tinkerbox to my iPad last night and was so engaged that I didn’t get to sleep until after 2AM. Tinkerbox is not only fun, but helps improve the spatial, logical and creative sides of your brain.
Monday, October 24th, 2011
Using Autodesk’s Product Design Suite
Combining Old School Craftsmanship with Leading Edge Technology
The Carousel Works, located in Mansfield, Ohio, is the world’s largest manufacturer of wooden carousels. These artistically functional equestrian masterpieces made their first U.S. appearance during the 1840s when the modern carousel was patented by Franz Wiesenhoffer in Hessvile, Ohio – just sixteen miles from the Carousel Works plant. Since then carousels have been almost exclusively hand crafted and marketed using carved models and pictures. But that recently changed when Carousel Works adopted Autodesk’s Product Design Suite and leapt from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century to combine old world craftsmanship with state-of-the-art digital prototyping.