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 Jeff's MCAD Blogging

Archive for March, 2014

Building a House with a 3D Printer

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

We’ve all witnessed the explosive growth of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing over the past several years. The possibilities for AM seem limitless and literally grow by the day, for mechanical design and now architecture. Sure, custom printing iPhone cases and jewelry are one thing, but the capabilities of 3D printing have grown so much, in fact, they’re now as big as a house.

The 3D Print Canal House is an exhibition, research, and building site for 3D Printing Architecture. This is a unique project where an international team of partners collaborates in “research & doing” linking science, design, construction and community, by 3D printing a house at an exposition site in the heart of Amsterdam.

3D Print Canal House


MCADCafe Call for Bloggers – Extend Your Reach and Exposure!

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Do you have something to share with the MCAD community, such as opinions, thought-provoking topics, or commentary?, the leading mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing portal is seeking the following types of blogging contributor categories:

  • Industry Expert/Consultant Blog
    • Provide thought leadership, industry expertise
    • Benefit by promoting yourself and your expertise
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Guest Blog
    • Tied to an existing blog on MCADCafe
    •  Write one blog post or post periodically
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Custom Blog
    • Will have a unique name and identity
    • Produce at least one blog post per month
    • No cost involved if the articles are not promotional in nature
  • Custom Corporate Blog
    • Industry-leading companies, such as software and hardware vendors, service bureaus, etc.
    • Multiple logins for publishing blog entries from multiple authors
    • Cost is $700/month or $6,000/year.

MCADCafe has 60,000 unique visitors per month; as well as 24,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and MCAD Weekly. Translation: People like to spend time at MCADCafe.

We’re looking for the following types of content from you:

Tips – in other words “how to do something.”

Success Stories — narratives or interviews about projects you’ve worked on, skill development, or how you have succeeded in your career.

What’s On Your Mind – what do you like, not like, what bothers you about the MCAD industry?

Topics for any of the types of content may range and cover the following (but this is just a sampling of possibilities):

  • Money (making or management)
  • Productivity/Performance tips and best practices
  • Team work or professional partnerships and collaboration
  • Awesome designs and how they were created
  • Communications (either professional interpersonal or marketing)
  • Technology (apps, useful websites, tools, etc.)
  • Hardware and software evaluations and experiences
  • Management (of teams, projects, or time)
  • Professional development (training, books, lectures, videos)
  • Other: Any reasonable topic will be considered


Epson Showcases Its Augmented Reality “Smart Glasses”

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Last year we got pretty excited when Google Glass was first introduced and the possibilities it offered, both generally and for CAD users.

Although I’m gradually coming around, I still personally find the Google Glass technology/device concept intrusive, but have to admit it is innovative and possibly inevitable. Google Glass is still being tested and has received mixed reviews. Even though not generally yet, there are already several places and events where Google Glass will be banned.

According to Google, “Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project, with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer.” Like all things Google, Glass runs under Android, and this might be a good thing for wide acceptance.

Any negativity shown toward the device, however, has not stopped many companies from exploring the possibilities of Google Glass. In fact, a CAD company last year announced an app for Google Glass — TurboSite from IMSI/Design.

OK, TurboSite for Goggle Glass is an AEC application, but you have to believe it could also be used in plant design and verification, as well as facilities management.

As for MCAD, I envision that it could be used in automotive, aerospace, consumer product design sectors, and shipbuilding (after all, a ship is just a horizontal building that floats). This marks the dawn of a new age of design with hardware shrinking from yesterday’s main frames to today’s wearable computers that will only continue to get smaller as their utility becomes bigger.

I’ve heard rumors that Autodesk and SolidWorks may be working on apps for Google Glass and other so-called “smart glasses.”

Earlier this week, Epson America showcased conceptual demos of its second-generation Moverio BT-200 “smart glasses” for augmented and virtual reality experiences at the SXSW Conference in Austin. Augmented reality (AR) allows for a digitally enhanced view of the real world. AR can add layers of digital information on top of items in the world around us.

Epson’s second generation augmented reality smart glasses debuted earlier this year at CES 2014. Keep in mind, though, the Moverio BT-200 shouldn’t be confused as a Google Glass competitor. For example, you wouldn’t want to wear the Moverio everywhere you go. It’s meant primarily for your personal time or maybe on a long flight, but there are certainly business applications for the technology as well. Since the display is visible to both eyes, movies and games translate well to it. Going forward, augmented reality is going to be the focal point for both games and commercial business use.


Book Review: Re-Use Your CAD-The Model-Based CAD Handbook

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Over the course of a year I read a lot of books — technical, non-fiction, hardcopy, and digital. Most of them I get through, although there are some I don’t even try to finish, and a few become favorites and are kept for future reading on my bookshelf. I just finished a book entitled Re-Use Your CAD: The Model-Based Handbook by Jennifer Herron. When I saw Handbook in the title, I thought it would be just a dry reference book, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more than that — it’s a good learning resource.

First, a little about the author and model-based engineering/model-based design (MBE/MBD).

I’ve known Jennifer for several years as we’ve crossed paths at software conferences. She is the owner of Action Engineering, a company that specializes in the promotion, process development, and standardization of 3D CAD MBE and MBD. She is an expert in multiple CAD packages, which she uses along with her practical design experience to hone standards and processes that optimize the ROI of all CAD systems.

She also offers model-based documentation education seminars, MIL-STD-31000A schema and modeling best practice training, as well as planning consulting services for Model-Based Engineering implementation. Keep in mind as you read the book that based on her experience, she is a stickler for standards, such as ISO, but you realize that’s probably a good thing.

Her company is a consulting firm that transitions government organizations and companies to effectively and efficiently implement Model Based Engineering. With a specialty in training organizations to document and tailor their business practices to be compatible with CAD, PDM and PLM software tools, Action advises companies in: CAD modeling standards and best practice, designer modeling efficiency, CAD configuration management, MBE training, team collaboration and CAD interoperability.

The concept(s) of MBE/MBD have received a lot of attention in the past few years because this approach handles product development using a digital master model, and not just necessarily CAD. All downstream activities can be derived from the master model to develop a product. The MBE/MBD approach replaces puzzling documents and can minimize the need for physical prototypes before an optimized design has been developed. In other words, engineers and designers can simulate and iterate as much as necessary to refine a model while also meeting requirements and adhering to design constraints.

Now on to the book . . .

Reuse Your CAD Handbook

The book is structured in a logical manner for those both new and experienced with MBE/MBD. Throughout, it stresses the importance of standardizing, centralizing, documenting, and reusing a CAD database. It’s written in a CAD-agnostic manner, so its principles can be applied in any CAD environment, regardless of vendor.

A sampling of some of the topics covered in the book include:

  • Explanation of the philosophy of designing products using CAD model-based life-cycles
  • Implementation guide to model-based commercial (ASME Y14.41), government (MIL-STD-31000A) and company standards
  • Model-based benefits, risks, and action plans
  • 3D MBD model organizational schema
  • 3D MBD model protocols to satisfy the schema CAD agnostically
  • Part and assembly modeling best practice
  • Mass property implementation methods
  • 3D model Data Exchange (DEX) methods
  • MBE support infrastructure requirements
  • Product data management (PDM) fundamentals and requirements


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