Jeff's MCAD Blogging
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 »

RAPID 2015: 3D Printing In Vivo, In Vitro, In Situ, and In Space

 
May 21st, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We’ve been in Long Beach, California all week at SME’s RAPID 2015 conference and exhibition. If you want to learn what’s new exciting in things 3D, this is the place to be. Hardware and software vendors, service providers, distributors and resellers, and educational institutions all showcase new offerings in 3D printing, scanning, and additive and subtractive manufacturing.

RAPID is an interesting mix of industry experts, pundits, users, and people just curious about this fascinating 3D world that continues to grow at an exponential rate. This year about 4,000 attended RAPID with almost 200 exhibitors

RAPID is about the most recent developments in the field, as well as what may be coming in the future. A number of technologies, techniques, and innovations are discussed during technical sessions, but this year, we found among the most interesting topics to be 3D bioprinting and 3D printing in space.

The first morning’s keynote was made by Jason Dunn, CTO of Made In Space, who talked on the topic of “Bringing Additive Manufacturing to Space.” The company was founded in 2010 with the goal of enabling humanity’s future in space. It has developed additive manufacturing (AM) technology specifically for use in the space environment (no easy task). By manufacturing space assets in space, as opposed to launching them from Earth, the company is attempting to accelerate and broaden space development while also providing unprecedented access for people on Earth to use in-space capabilities (the ultimate goal of a business model to monetize its cash outlay in space on earth).

Made In Space Launches First 3D Printer to Space

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Meet Us at RAPID 2015

 
May 15th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We’re heading to Long Beach, California next week to participate in one of SME’s marquee events — RAPID 2015.

I’ll be at the conference all week taking in the keynotes, new hardware and software products and service announcements, as well as sitting in on a few technical sessions.

This is an especially pivotal year in the evolution of 3D printing as it strives to get to the next level with higher quality parts, lower cost materials, and greater presence in manufacturing direct part production.

I’ll be hitting the floor running early Tuesday morning and will be Tweeting throughout the event, as well as posting blogs at the end of each day.

If you’re going to RAPID 2015 in Long Beach, feel free to contact me at 719.221.1867 or jeff@ibsystems.com and let’s meet up for discussing the latest technologies, trends, rumors, etc.

Hope to see you there!

PTC ThingWorx Converges On IoT

 
May 14th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

Last week at LiveWorx 2015, PTC made several major product and strategic announcements around the Internet of Things (IoT) and their implications for the future of PTC. A couple of the most prominent of these product announcements were ThingWorx 6.0 and ThingWorx Converge.

Before being acquired by PTC about 18 months ago, ThingWorx realized that making IoT a reality required an ecosystem of complementary technologies that enable “things” to be created, connected, operated, and serviced. With the ecosystem established, applications that capitalize on the data these “things” generate can be developed.

According to Russ Fadal, President & General Manager, ThingWorx, a PTC business, it’s estimated that in 2010 there were approximately 7 billion connected smart devices in the world. That number is expected to be in the neighborhood of 1 trillion by 2035. That’s explosive growth, to say the least!

He said that today IoT is challenged because 80% of resources are dedicated to infrastructure and 20% for applications, and he would like to see those percentages reversed. Other issues that he, PTC, and the IoT industry as a whole are trying to resolve include security, predictable performance, 10X+ faster production and implementation, and what to do with the mountains of data generated by IoT devices. Security is especially important because it is not an event, but an ongoing process that will never go away. No small concerns here, therefore the evolution of the platform ecosystem — ThingWorx.

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Stratasys Reports Disappointing Q1 Financials

 
May 11th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

As exciting as the 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) space has been the past several, especially the last couple, its unbridled enthusiasm and expectations couldn’t be expected to go on forever, and they’re not. Stratasys reported less than anticipated financials for Q1 2015.

All was not doom and gloom for Stratasys, however, as the financials also include the following:

  • Announced that Stratasys AM technologies were selected by Airbus for producing 3D printed flight parts for use in the first-of-type A350 XWB aircraft.
  • Announced organizational changes, including the creation of the Stratasys Strategic Consulting Division to help support customer development.
  • Completed the organizational integration of Solid Concepts, Harvest Technologies and RedEye Services to form Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (SDM).
  • Initiated a reorganization within MakerBot. This involved a sizable layoff of MakerBot employees and the closing of MakerBot retail stores. This reorganization was done to make MakerBot a better “fit” within Stratasys.
  • The company sold 7,536 3D printing and additive manufacturing systems during the quarter.

Stratasys Presents a 3D Printed Aircraft Interior at EuroMold 2014

Fred Fischer, Director of PolyJet and FDM Applications at Stratasys, presents an aircraft interior 3D printed using a unique combination additive manufacturing technologies. The presentation was filmed at Stratasys’ aerospace-themed booth at EuroMold 2014 in Frankfurt.

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LiveWorx 2015: PTC Drives Home Its IoT Future – Part 1

 
May 7th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 in Boston this week, IoT is a 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 last might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (>2,300 attendees). Numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.

Because of the amount of material covered in just a couple of days, and the major implications surrounding IoT and PTC, I’ll be writing about some the major (and some minor) technology and business announcements, as well as how this all fits together and might shape PTC’s strategy going forward, including:

  • The benefits and advantages of IoT from PTC’s perspective
  • Problematic IoT concerns that persist, including security and safety
  • ThingWorx 6.0
  • PTC’s partnership with ServiceMax for connected field service management
  • PTC’s ThingWorx Converge as an IoT integration hub
  • The ColdLight acquisition for handling big data and predictive analytics
  • The ThingWorx Marketplace that has apps and related tools for IoT
  • How IoT fits in with Creo and Windchill

LiveWorx 2015 Highlight Reel

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LiveWorx 2015: A New Chapter For PTC

 
May 4th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We’re in Boston’s Back Bay this week for PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 conference on the Internet of Things (IoT).

This event is a new one for us and one that largely foretells the future direction of PTC.

If you’re here, let’s talk. This is all brand new to me, and I’m on an educational mission. I’d like to hear your opinions on what’s good, what’s bad, and what might potentially be scary, as well as game-changing in this new foray for PTC.

Contact me at jeff@ibsystems or 719.221.1867.

 

Online Engineering Education: Many Options, Many Outcomes

 
April 30th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

I’ve been around design and engineering for many years. Well, you might say that I’ve been “around the block.” I can accept that, but I also have realized for a long time, that to remain relevant, I have had to continuously re-educate myself through various channels to reinvent myself.

Just last autumn I took a computational physics course (Optics) at the University of Colorado Denver as background for a book I am in the process of writing on 3D scanning. To say it was a challenge is an understatement, and I had to dust off my old college math books, but I got a lot out of it and look forward to future college-level courses. Disclosure: I audited the course and did not receive a grade, but felt I kept up with the class, and missed only two classes during the 16 week semester.

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COFES 2015: Seeing The Bigger Picture

 
April 23rd, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We just left Scottsdale, Arizona after a great weekend at the annual Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) event.

Over the years I’ve attended probably 8-10 of these unique events, and they have all been a bit different, but I have always come away with new insights and perspectives on engineering software.

The keynotes are always thought provoking and the roundtable discussions and general conversations are stimulating, because they often provide food for thought and  questions for further investigation rather than  just simple answers.

COFES_2015_300x250

This year’s theme was “Taking a Step Back To See the Big Picture.” As engineers and software professionals we are good at focusing on the thing at hand – the design challenge; the need for a new tool; our competitive situation. However, rarely do we consider the bigger world in which these issues reside.This year, COFES took a giant step backwards for broadening our view. In other words, to think about thinking about the bigger picture. The nature of our work requires that we spend the majority of our time getting things done, tightly focused on executing our tasks and plans. And while we do that, we are continuously faced with choices, big and small, along the way. Too often, we make decisions in the narrow context of what we have in front of us, unless some outside force pushes a broader context into our consciousness.

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Book Review: Geometric Modeling by Nikolay Golovanov

 
April 16th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

What most of us take for granted when using CAD/CAM/CAE technologies had to come from somewhere, correct? By that I mean the mathematics that underlie and drive all CAx applications. From the basic math numerical models are derived as the output of systems. The output of these systems are geometric shape descriptions of modeled objects. As these systems were being developed a new branch of mathematics, known as geometric modeling, was created – and that’s what the book, Geometric Modeling, is all about.

Fundamentally, geometric modeling studies the methods used to construct and control numerical geometric models of real and imaginary objects.

Geometric modeling is entirely dependent of several areas of mathematics, but primarily differential geometry (that employs differential and integral calculus and linear algebra for developing planes, curves, and surfaces in 3D Euclidean space) and numerical methods (to find numerical approximations – the more precise the approximation, the better the model).

How basic math becomes numerical modeling that becomes geometric modeling is the subject of a new book, Geometric Modeling, by Dr. Nikolay Golovanov. The book is based on the author’s experience gained throughout his career, and especially during the development of the ASCON Group’s C3D geometric kernel as a principal architect.

In a nutshell, the book outlines the methods of geometric modeling, including methods for constructing curves, surfaces, and solids. It describes the algorithms and data structures behind geometric objects. It also presents the principles of the interconnections between the elements of geometric models. Finally, the book examines some of the applications of geometric models, such as determining model physical characteristics, rendering, simulation, etc.

Geometric Modeling

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SolidCAM: Solid Past, Solid Future

 
April 9th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We talk with dozens of CAx vendors monthly and on an ongoing basis so we can (hope to) stay current with new features and capabilities. We have also noted for several years the ongoing consolidation of CAx vendors. When I blogged specifically a couple months ago about the CAM segment entitled, “CAM Consolidation 2015: The Circle Continues To Get Smaller,” only one vendor challenged me that it was always independent and would remain so – SolidCAM. That statement piqued my interest, so I thought I better follow up to see how they would substantiate their insistence.

The following video demonstrates a 3D car model machined in C45 steel roughed with iMachining 3D technology, which SolidCAM claims saves >70% of machining time. The car model is finished using SolidCAM 5-Axis simultaneous – all integrated into SolidWorks.

 

SolidCAM iMachining & Simultaneous 5X-Milling of a Car Model

 Shortly after SolidWorks World, I spoke with SolidCAM’s founder and CEO, Emil Somekh, in a lively and candid conversation that set a number of things straight specifically about SolidCAM, as well as the CAM industry in general.

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