Jeff's MCAD Blogging

Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has over 35 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design and engineering. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CG, CAD, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design community. As editor of ShareCG, … More »

Sigma Labs Teams With America Makes For Innovating 3D Metal Printing In Aviation

 
January 22nd, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

This week Sigma Labs a developer of advanced, in process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for metal-based additive manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing technologies, announced that it has been granted its first contract, worth approximately $500,000, from GE Aviation. The company was previously announced as a member of the winning team of companies and universities awarded an “America Makes” additive manufacturing (AM) research project. This project is funded by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) and covers Sigma Labs’ proprietary In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) software for advanced AM monitoring.

The contract will implement the Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D technology across multiple platforms, specifically those requiring high-volume, high-quality aerospace components. Over the next 18 months Sigma Labs is expected to deploy a total of three systems – one each to GE Aviation and to other team members Honeywell and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The Story Behind Sigma Labs

“We are very pleased to announce this first contract under our previously-announced award with NAMII,” said Mark Cola, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Labs. “Working with some of the best known companies in the industry, including GE Aviation and Honeywell, we will use this project to further demonstrate our PrintRite3D technology and provide for additional data collection. We believe awards such as this open up the way for business development opportunities and, at the same time, strengthen Sigma Labs’ position in the nascent yet rapidly-growing AM space.”

Sigma Labs through its wholly-owned subsidiary, B6 Sigma, develops and engineers advanced, in-process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for organizations worldwide seeking solutions for metal-based additive manufacturing or 3D printing, and other advanced manufacturing technologies.

Additive Manufacturing at GE Aviation

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CEO Change At SOLIDWORKS: “Au revoir” to Bertrand, “Ciao” to Gian Paolo

 
January 15th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

Well, we can’t say that 2015 in the MCAD industry has started off on a dull note.

With what many in the industry I’m sure consider a surprise, this morning Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of its 3D design software brand SOLIDWORKS. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who will become Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.

The press release says Bertrand was “promoted,” but going from CEO to VP doesn’t exactly seem like a promotion to me. However, this isn’t the first “promotion” of this type. Sicot’s CEO predecessor, Jeff Ray, endured a somewhat similar fate about four years ago when he became Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations, at the time a newly created position within Dassault. I guess, just chalk it up to “business is business.”

Paolo Bassi will lead the development of SOLIDWORKS’ future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the cloud, as well as continued collaboration with the brand’s user community.

Going back just a year, in the following video Bertrand Sicot, then CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS, speeds down the Lake Placid sled track at 95 mph in a bobsled designed in SOLIDWORKS by Bo-Dyn Bobsled.

SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot’s Bobsled Ride for SolidWorks World 2014

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Want a Challenge? How About a Basic Physics Test?

 
January 13th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

How long has it been since you really thought about your engineering roots? By that I mean basic math and physics.

Recently, I thought about it a lot. This past fall I enrolled in a computational physics class in Optics. It was a real eye-opener, especially the math part – calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, etc. Although I enjoyed the challenge of the physics, I struggled for several weeks with the math – trying to recall principles after (quite) a few years removed from the classroom. I caught on, though, and eventually caught up with the rest of the class.

While maybe not totally applicable to hard physics, the following video illustrates some basic physics principles with regard to shatter and fracture:

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3D Printing Grows Beyond “Gimmick” Stage and Takes Center Stage at CES 2015

 
January 8th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

As impressive as it is, last month we gave 3D printing a bit of a dressing down based on personal experience. The blog post was a reality check and a look at the technology not through rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say, though, that 3D printing is still one of the biggest innovations on the manufacturing front, if not the biggest, in recent memory.

Even with the major advances that have transpired in 3D printing, there are still a number of skeptics who view the technology as little more than a promotional stunt or gimmick.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 took place this week. It’s an annual tech festival that began in 1967 that today attracts more than 160,000 attendees checking out about 3,500 exhibitors. Over the years, some of the more significant technologies first released at CES have included:

1970 – VCR

1981 – CD player

1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System

1998 – High-definition TV

2000 – Satellite radio

2003 – Blu-Ray DVDs

2015 – 3D Printing(?)

We didn’t attend CES this year, but we have been monitoring the activities in a pavilion dedicated to innovative technologies, including 3D printing.

3D Printing Highlights at CES 2015
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Happy Holidays From MCADCafe!

 
December 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. We’d also like to thank all of our readers and supporters for continuing to make MCADCafe a vital part of the design, engineering, and manufacturing community.

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re unveiling what we’ll be covering in 2015. The calendar below reflects what we think are some of the most important topics for the MCAD community, based on our perceptions, as well as feedback from our readers and other supporters.

The main theme for each month will be covered in an extended article or series of articles so that the topic can be covered in a more comprehensive way. We’ll also be covering some of the major MCAD and related events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees.

If you have any thoughts on topics you would like to see covered in 2015, feel free to contact me at jeff@ibsystems.com or 719.221.1867. We encourage and welcome all input and feedback.

We look forward to an exciting 2015 and providing you with the MCAD content you want for improving your design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

Keep MCADCafe.com your source for all things MCAD. It’s going to be a great year!

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Technology of the Year: The Internet of Things

 
December 18th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

This year we’ve attended several technical meetings and conferences in the design, engineering, and manufacturing realms and have heard one concept/phrase repeated much more than anything else – Internet of Things (IoT). That said, we consider IoT to be the most significant technology of the year for 2014.

Simply, IoT is a newer implementation and outgrowth of an older technology known as Machine-to-Machine (M2M).

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999, although the concept had been discussed since 1991.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things in the early days. The initial thought was, if all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, they could be managed and inventoried by computers.

Today, the term IoT is used to denote advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. Both of the technologies are expected to enable billions of new devices in the near future (I’ve seen forecasts of 20-100 billion connected devices by 2018 or 2020).

The Internet of Things: Dr. John Barrett at TEDxCIT

In most M2M and IoT scenarios, the device being monitored and/or controlled contains an integrated sensor and wireless transceiver connected through a cellular, WiFi, or other wireless link to the Internet. Keep in mind that all devices are assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address for unique identification and role purposes. The Internet connection communicates with a remote server that contains the application software. The monitoring device then makes an Internet connection to the same server to complete the service request loop.

Data from the communication is then captured, displayed, stored, and control commands are issued as a result of it.

The Internet of Things Explained

In mechanical design and engineering, while many of the hardware and software vendors have expressed interest in IoT, PTC has really embraced it and positioned it as a major part of their overall strategy going forward.
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The Dark Side of 3D Printing

 
December 11th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

Like a large portion of the product design and manufacturing world, I have a lot of enthusiasm for the potential of 3D printing. I have also experienced the reality of 3D printing – most of it positive, but not all by any means. In other words, 3D printing has come a long way, but it’s still got a long way to go on three fronts: hardware, software, and materials.

When I learned about and made a move to experimenting with 3D printing and other additive technologies a few years ago, I thought by now I would have had no use for subtractive technologies, such as milling and drilling. However, experience (and some hard knocks) have taught me that additive technologies cannot be used exclusively as my only tools. They are actually complementary in what I’ve come to realize is a hybrid approach that employs both additive and subtractive technologies.

Like many others who have been relatively early adopters of 3D printing, problems have been encountered – some of which can be resolved, while others continue to frustrate. Although the video below discusses problems with a specific 3D printer, they are somewhat typical for so-called “low-end” 3D printers using PLA or ABS materials (these are the only materials I currently use).

3D Printing Problems

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Autodesk University 2014 –Business Wagers Paying Off

 
December 4th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

Along with about 10,000 other attendees, we were at Autodesk’s annual user forum spectacle in the desert – Autodesk University 2014 – now in its 22nd year. Amidst a couple of surprisingly foggy morning in Las Vegas this week we saw, heard, and experienced a number of interesting thing from Autodesk, partners, and customers.

More than anything this year, it was pretty evident that a number of business moves, some gambles really, are beginning to return real dividends on their investment.

Autodesk’s very approachable CEO, Carl Bass, was front and center as usual at AU, and this time around he didn’t have to do much defending of his business decisions of the past few years. For the most part he’s risen above the skepticism of some customers, industry pundits, and competitors, and has led Autodesk to the forefront of contemporary engineering software and services that will serve the company well near and long term. In a word, to the benefit of Autodesk he’s been a smart and savvy gambler who wagered a lot, and is starting to win big.

AU 2014

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At AU 2014, Think About AU 2019

 
November 25th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

Next week, along with what is expected to be over 9,000 attendees, we’ll be in Las Vegas for Autodesk University (AU). Yes, it’s an Autodesk vehicle, but it’s also much bigger than that.

AU is analogous to a big box store (ironically, it starts on Cyber Monday – December 1) with one-stop shopping for technical software for a broad range of industries – manufacturing, media/entertainment, GIS, AEC, and so on.

If you’re coming to Las Vegas for AU, it’s always a good idea to know your objectives for attending and what you hope to get out of it. In other words, come with an agenda based on asking the following questions on behalf of yourself and your company looking ahead five years:

  • What are you working on now and what do you want to be working on?
  • What will be the core competencies of our company and our competitors?
  • What technologies are our competitors acquiring and implementing, and are they new or complementary?
  • What technologies will emerge and be vital to our business?
  • Will our company be able to use methods and technologies from other industries?
  • Will our company grow strictly by organic means, or through partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions?
  • How will our company’s staff differ from todays and what skill sets will be required?
  • How will we deal with data – interoperability, legacy, management, etc.?

These are all important questions, because regardless of position today, no company can afford to remain complacent if they hope to remain competitive.

AU 2014

AU is always a good place for monitoring industry and technology trends, market direction, future requirements, industry rumors, and R&D within Autodesk and many of its partners.

AU, like other live software/technology events are great for meeting with Autodesk folks, exhibitors, peers, and potential customers. It’s also an opportunity to learn at the myriad industry-specific classes that are offered, as well as unparalleled networking. With all that we do via email, texting, phone calls, Skype, Web meetings, etc., AU is a great venue for face to face discussions and conversations before, during, and after each day’s formal events. Some of the best inside “dirt” (ranging from successes to frustrations) we pick up on is outside the confines of the conference itself, and we always look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Always expect the unexpected at AU, because you might just hear, see, or learn something that will drive a solution to a problem, or a new direction for you, your company, and your career.

So, if you are going to AU 2014, don’t just go for the sake of this year, but also for considerations down the road.

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The Continuing Relevance of Spatial’s 3D Software Components

 
November 20th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

Last month we attended the Spatial Insider’s Summit 2014 and got a good look at the company’s technologies, current position, and future direction.

From its inception, Spatial, a Dassault Systèmes company, has been a developer and provider of software components – modular software packages that perform a set of specific and related functions. This class of software is designed to work as a functional component of a larger application, such as CAD, CAM, or CAE. The goal of component software is to standardize the interfaces between software components so that they can work together efficiently

Although far from the only issue of concern, reusability also is a vital characteristic of software components. Ideally, software components should be designed and implemented in such a way that many different applications could reuse them. This is not an easy task because it takes significant effort to write software components that are effectively reusable. To succeed, components need to be:

  • Fully documented
  • Thoroughly tested
  • Designed knowing that they inevitably will be put to unforeseen uses.

In developing its software components, Spatial has always realized, too, that the best modeling components excel at modeling with imported data, and through data reuse, data import is more prevalent than data creation. With regard to the second part of the statement, Spatial understands that design data reuse is much more than just data exchange.

Spatial Software Components in Fabrication and Manufacturing

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SolidCAM: Live imachining



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