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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Autodesk Forging Ahead With Development Platform

 
June 23rd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Last week Autodesk announced several updates to its Forge platform, including new cloud application development tools, and three investments at Forge DevCon, the company’s inaugural event for cloud developers.

Since its inception in December 2015, Autodesk claims that rapid progress has been made with early adopters of the Forge Platform in changing both what and how things are made, and at transforming “the future of making things.”

The Forge Program consists of three main components; the Forge platform (PaaS), developer program, and a $100M investment fund. The cloud-based Forge Platform features APIs and SDKs developers can use to create design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, and other types of enterprise applications. The Forge developer program aims to bring together a community of cloud application developers by providing application development resources.

“We are seeing Forge used to power the future of making things for a variety of applications ranging from part inspection to sub-sea surveying, from managing mines with drones to turning cost estimation into a competitive advantage, and building online design and manufacturing services,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Products at Autodesk. “It is clear to us that there is an enormous demand for an easy-to-use and scalable platform to build all sorts of manufacturing and AEC applications. There are endless opportunities created by a combination of our web service APIs and entrepreneurial developer talent.”

The Forge DevCon event is part of a comprehensive Forge developer program that provides learning, support, and business development resources for Autodesk’s community of cloud developers. This community includes developers representing industries that include architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and manufacturing, as well as emerging areas such as augmented reality (AR), additive manufacturing (AM), and the Internet of Things (IoT). The majority of Forge developers are using multiple APIs to create services and solutions that fuel how products are designed, built and used.

In a nutshell, the Autodesk Forge Platform is a set of cloud services that connects design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, production, and operations workflows. Application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) let software developers of all sizes to build cloud-powered applications, services, and experiences. Admittedly, this is a heady set of claims, but Autodesk is well on its way to fulfilling them.

Autodesk Forge DevCon 2016 Keynote

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Hexagon Looks To The Future With Manufacturing Intelligence

 
June 16th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

We were in the land of Disney this week in Anaheim, California attending HxGN Live 2016, Hexagon’s international user conference. Millions of kids are now out of school and it seemed like a good percentage of them were in town to visit Mickey Mouse and company.

A little over six months ago, what was known as Hexagon Metrology became Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, a major rebranding to reflect its increasing capabilities in data-driven manufacturing. Much of the rebranding was enabled by Hexagon’s acquisitions that broadened its historical scope, such as the acquisition of Vero Software, a diverse CAD/CAM vendor. Surprisingly, Vero had a relatively minor presence at HxGN Live this year, but that is supposed to change at next year’s HxGN conference.

The brand name change aligns the manufacturing metrology business more closely with Hexagon’s overall strategy of offering software-centric information technologies that improve quality and productivity across manufacturing process workflows.

As a leading measurement equipment provider, Hexagon Metrology set out to offer complete quality assurance solutions, building an extensive portfolio of metrology equipment through a combination of innovation and acquisition. The company’s investment in research and development has yielded technology revolutions that first moved measurement from the quality room to the point of production and then brought metrology data into the wider factory workflow.

HxGN Live 2016

 Other recent acquisitions beyond Vero Software, include statistical process control vendor Q-DAS, have further expanded the business’ offering into broader manufacturing technologies – prompting the decision to rebrand as Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

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PTC’s IoT Equation Becomes Technology Platform

 
June 9th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

What a difference a few days make. Last week I was in Denver teaching math to middle schoolers and this week I was in Boston with about 4,000 others attending PTC’s LiveWorx 16. The spotlight at the conference shone on the Internet of Things (IoT) and PTC’s commitment to it.

So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) thing is still just a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 16 in Boston this week, IoT is becoming an increasingly big part of the future – not only for PTC, but for all of us.

Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over the past couple might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (~2,300 attendees); LiveWorx 16 (~4,000 attendees). Attendance numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.

Although a standard definition is still in the works, IoT generally 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 has been discussed since 1991. PTC, of course, and understandably, is defining IoT in terms that serve it best.

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.

For PTC, IoT represents the next natural progressive/evolutionary step to PLM and describes it as the confluence/convergence of physical and digital entities.

new-PTC-logo

PTC’s New Logo – The “d” is for digital and the “p” is for physical – Convergence

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School’s Out for Summer (And For Mr. Rowe, Too)

 
June 2nd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

This week marks the end of grand experiment and challenge for me – I’ve taught middle school math for the past 39 weeks. I began the school with an apprehensive sense of anxiousness and hope and ended it with a great sense of accomplishment and relief.

Before I got involved this school year I had been interested not only in education in general, but how I might get actively involved, especially at the high school level in math and/or science. No, I have never been a teacher in a formal sense, and no, I don’t have a teaching credential either (something I was reminded of continually throughout the year). Even though I had the will and desire to become a teacher, unless I had a teaching license issued by the state of Colorado, my options were scarce.

I could have been a volunteer or a private tutor, but for me these options were limited in scope, responsibility, and personal satisfaction. I thought last year that I was at a dead end until I remembered an ad I had seen and saved a couple of years previously about a program called Denver Math Fellows. This program is a large-scale supplemental intervention program integrated into the school day.

WLA DMF 3rd Period

A Typical Classroom Setting

The concept and possibility of becoming a Denver Math Fellow (DMF) really appealed to me because one of the primary qualifications was a college degree (mine’s in industrial design/mechanical engineering technology). This was a good option for me because I had never been a teacher before. Other qualifications included the desire to help students close the opportunity gap in math, as well as committing to at least a one-year term of service — in my case August 2015 through this week.

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Shapeways Hopes To Provide Boost For HP Jet Fusion 3D Printers

 
May 26th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Shapeways, a leading 3D printing service and marketplace for consumers, announced a collaboration with HP Inc. to help drive HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Printer.  Shapeways said it is the first company to receive an early prototype unit in its Eindhoven, Netherlands factory and is working closely with HP.  Once publicly available sometime later this year, Shapeways hopes the new commercial HP offering will provide its 3D community with a superior quality black nylon material that will 3D print in greater detail, with a faster lead time, and at a lower cost than current dyed nylons.

Shapeways produces roughly 3,000 unique products every day and over 1 million unique products annually.

“We chose to work with Shapeways because they are the leading authority in bringing creative ideas to life and are the largest consumer 3D printing portal, with 3,000 products made every day,” said Stephen Nigro, president of HP’s 3D printing business.  “The HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution will enable Shapeways to bring high quality parts up to 10 times faster than before for lower cost.”

HP Shapeways Printer1

HP’s Virginia Palacio and Stefan Rink, Shapeways VP of Manufacturing, with the new HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system, installed in Shapeways’ Eindhoven factory.

According to Shapeways, in addition to offering superior quality, this new technology could potentially reduce standard shipping from the current seven business days to next day delivery.
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UPS Launching Global On-Demand 3D Printing Manufacturing Network

 
May 19th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

The notion of a 3D printer in every home has received a lot of attention in the past few years, and sales of relatively low cost 3D printers have skyrocketed.

But why? For a process and capability that was supposed to be ubiquitous and necessary for every home? Really? The machines may be relatively inexpensive, but how many parts are you truly going to want to ultimately design and produce? Then there are material, size/volume, and physical characteristic, and quality limitations. The machines can also be fickle to set up and maintain. I suspect that after an initial period of excitement and promise, a lot of early-purchase 3D printers are now sitting idle and collecting dust.
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Collaborative Robots: The Next Big Thing In Robotics

 
May 12th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Robots come in many shapes, sizes, functions, and prices. One of the most interesting areas of robotics that I’ve followed for the past few years are known as collaborative robots.

A collaborative robot (cobot or co-bot) is a robot designed to assist human beings as a guide or assistant in a specific task, whereas a “regular” robot is designed to be programmed to work more or less autonomously. Generally, a cobot  works collaboratively with a human and allows that human to perform certain operations successfully if they fit within the scope of the task and to steer the human on a correct path when the human begins to stray from or exceed the scope of the task.

Because co-bots are relatively affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are adopting this technology at rapid rates, and some analysts expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few years.
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Open Source Software For 3D Printing: Rapidly Evolving Capabilities

 
May 5th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Like virtually all of our readers, I have purchased and used a lot of proprietary software for a long time. I am also a fan and proponent of the open software and hardware movement. Here, I’ll touch on open source hardware and focus on open source software.

One of the things I really like about source software and hardware is that it is about working not with just technology, but people. Also, the open source software and hardware sectors are growing. Open source software is not driven by corporate budgets, but by people fulfilling a need and software development and use freedom. My open source experience has also taught me that the currency of open source is not necessarily money, but more likely, beer and T-shirts.
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Wohlers Report 2016: The Best 3D Printing Resource Just Keeps Getting Better

 
April 28th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2016, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, interest in 3D printing again reached an unprecedented level and exceeded $5.1 billion last year, as well as growing by $1 billion for the second consecutive year.

Wohlers Associates is widely recognized as the leading consulting firm and foremost authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This annual publication has served as the undisputed industry-leading report on the subject for more than two decades. Over its 21 years of publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing—terms that are used interchangeably by the company and industry. I think it easily remains the most comprehensive resource on the topic and market.
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Lantek Sheet Metal Software Release Moves Customers Closer to Industry 4.0

 
April 21st, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Lantek, a provider of sheet metal software systems announced the global 2016 release of its Lantek Factory concept and associated software products. The new version is targeted toward companies producing parts for sheet metal tubes and profiles. According to the company, the new release provides capabilities for customers to implement Industry 4.0 advanced and agile manufacturing processes. It’s the Industry 4.0 angle that makes this announcement really interesting.
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