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Archive for May, 2014

Software Evaluation: SolidWorks & SolidWorks Enterprise PDM

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a series of four evaluation articles of CAD/PDM systems for SMBs.

Overview

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is one of two PDM products offered by DS SolidWorks and is a separate purchase. SolidWorks Workgroup PDM is available integrated inside of SolidWorks Premium and Professional.

Data cards are crucial elements for managing design data with EPDM because they contain metadata about the files, folders, items, and templates in the vault database. Data card information is stored centrally, so users can search and locate information about files, folders, items, and templates without needing local copies.

By adding controls such as text fields, list boxes, check boxes, and tabs, data cards are used for managing the design process.

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Book Review: Wohlers Report 2014

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

An organization that we know quite well, Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2014, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, in 2014, interest in 3D printing reached an unprecedented level and exceeded the $3 billion milestone. The phenomenal attention to AM began in 2012, and it was sudden. As Greg Morris of GE Aviation said, “It was like someone flipped a switch.” Governments, major corporations, investors, and the mainstream media developed an insatiable appetite for additive manufacturing, and it occurred quickly.

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Wohlers Report 2014

As it has from the beginning, Wohlers Report 2014 covers virtually every aspect of additive manufacturing, including its history, applications, underlying technologies, processes, manufacturers, and materials. It documents significant developments that have occurred in the past year, R&D and collaboration activities in government, academia, industry, and summarizes the worldwide state of the industry. This edition is the report’s 19th consecutive year of publication.

Wohlers Associates believes the industry will continue strong growth over the next several years. It will be fueled by sales of under $5,000 “personal” 3D printers, as well as the expanded use of the technology for the production of parts, especially metal, that go into final products. “The industry is experiencing change that we have not seen in 20+ years of tracking it,” stated Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at the company and one of two principal authors of the new report. He added, “What’s most exciting is that we have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.”

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CAD/PDM Software Evaluation: Autodesk Inventor/Vault Professional

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a series of four evaluation articles of CAD/PDM systems for SMBs.

Overview

Autodesk Vault Profession is one of three levels available from the company. Also available are Vault Basic and Vault Workgroup.

Vault Professional is a standalone application providing access to vault data. Integrated add-in clients for CAD and non-CAD applications are used to manage data. When working on files managed by any vault-type system, it is important to note that copies of files that are stored in the vault are checked out. Files are never directly edited in the vault; these files are read-only until they are checked out. In effect, copies of files are checked out of the vault for editing. In a vaulting scheme, a file can be checked out only by one user at a time. Changes made to checked out files are sent back to the server when a file is checked in.

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COFES 2014: Focuses on the Year 2020 and 20/20 Vision

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

I just returned from the Arizona desert and COFES 2014. The annual event (in its fifteenth year), also known as the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES), is more than just an event featuring technology as its central theme for technology’s sake. It’s actually more of an immersive educational experience that brings together many of the best minds in the technical realms of engineering software, hardware, education, and architecture, among many others.

COFES is recognized as a think-tank event that gathers vendors, users, press, and analysts together to discuss the many important issues facing both customers and providers of diverse technologies. The three-day event provides a relaxed and informal atmosphere designed to foster genuine conversation.

According to Cyon Research, the organization behind it, COFES is:

  • A think tank where great minds come together to discuss best practices and to share ideas for managing change
  • A technology summit that promotes discussion and problem-solving among industry thought-leaders, analysts and customers
  • A business event that delivers practical strategies for achieving financial success in the engineering and design technology sector
  • An informal environment where business leaders and technology providers can meet to identify and address key industry issues and challenges

Having been to a few COFES events myself, it is certainly those things, but also a lot more.

The theme for COFES 2014 was “Correcting 2020 Vision,” that forces our attention to look further down the road to a six-year horizon. Many of the discussions centered on the non-linear nature of the future beyond a two-year horizon. The stated goal at COFES 2014 was to help attendees achieve this clearer vision – one that better reflects the business realities we will all face by 2020.

Until the second day of the conference, I couldn’t discern if the 2020 reference was just the year and/or a reference to visual acuity. As it turns out, it was some of both. Although no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, the year 2020 provides a good vision and timeline for what might be on the horizon. The trick is now that the horizon has been set, how do we build the vision?

The format of the Congress encourages active (and sometimes very spirited) exchanges and interactions on everything ranging from PLM to 3D printing to STEM to coding to engineering search engines. The keys are the discussions, dialogs between individuals and not just corporate entities. Discussions take place at all meals, around the pool, outdoors between formal sessions, and around moderated roundtables. Companies, some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t, sponsor briefings in dedicated technology suites. These provide a good opportunity to learn what new and established companies are planning. In any case, all of the discussions point to the value of disagreement, diversity, and respect, as well as rethinking rejected ideas. (more…)

ANSYS Acquires SpaceClaim: May the Force(s) Be With Them

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Well, another CAD company is snapped up, and the technical software consolidation train continues to roll on. That in itself is not too surprising. What is, though, is that a CAE company has acquired a CAD company.

ANSYS announced earlier today that it has acquired SpaceClaim Corp. for a purchase price of $85 million in cash, plus retention and an adjustment for working capital. The transaction closed on April 30, 2014.

ANSYS SpaceClaim Overview
From the beginning, SpaceClaim said it offered a 3D modeling tool that could be used by more than just CAD experts during the product development process (and this is a key point to the acquisition). According to SpaceClaim, this is made possible because of a process, called “direct modeling,” that differs dramatically from traditional CAD software, which is used by a relatively small percentage of engineers – typically late in the development process, to document the detailed design. While direct modeling itself is not unique, SpaceClaims implementation of it is. (more…)

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