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Archive for July, 2015

Windows 10: Are You In? The Jury’s Out.

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

If there is anything I detest more than upgrading software, it’s upgrading an operating system. OK, now I’ve said it . . .

Yesterday was a day just like any other, except a new operating system, Windows 10, was officially launched. Was it the dawn of a new day for Microsoft, or a yawn like any other day? More importantly, are you going to jump on the bandwagon or get in the back of the bus to see if it’s worth the effort?

I haven’t heard of many users clamoring for this release, and Microsoft hasn’t exactly had the trumpets blaring and proclaiming the birth of its new baby. Why is this happening (or not)?

Below is a brief overview of the new Windows 10 operating system that became available as a free upgrade (to some, but not all users) starting July 29th.


As the new Windows 10 was prepared for public launch yesterday, Microsoft oddly, wasn’t really talking about it much before, during, or after the launch. However, there sure have been a flurry of patches available from Microsoft the past few days and weeks.

It will be free to certain users (more about that later); has elements of Windows 7 and 8.1; and will affect desktop, mobile, and Xbox platforms.

Unclear is exactly what existing technology Windows 10 will and will not work with. This uncertainty is certainly bound to put a lot of people off upgrading, at least right away. Even Microsoft’s “official” forums don’t agree on this vital issue. No one really knows whether your PC will be ready, and you won’t either until after you upgrade. If too many problems occur, you have an out (also discussed later).


Hardware Review: GoBOXX G1980 Mobile Workstation

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

For a number of reasons, I have been a fan of mobile workstations, so I was very interested in taking a quick look at a new machine from BOXX that is truly mobile .

The GoBOXX 15 G1980 is relatively thin. It’s the thinnest and lightest laptop BOXX has ever offered, weighing in at 4.36 pounds and 0.78 inches thick.

The backlit keyboard is nicely laid out with large wrist rest and trackpad areas. However, the letters on the keys takes a little getting used to, as the font on them looks a little like something from the movie, The Matrix.

As with all BOXX mobile workstations we have reviewed in the past, screen resolution and color were very good with the GoBOXX 15 G1980.


GoBOXX 15 G1980

Its fan runs when the system gets taxed, but does not run all of the time, and is fairly quiet with no obnoxious whining sound frequency.

With programs running and WiFi on and operating, I averaged about 4.25 hours of battery life. Not bad, but also not great compared to some other mobile workstations I’ve used lately.

While smaller (thinner profile) than previous BOXX mobile workstations we have evaluated, the AC adapter is still quite large. I know to a great extent this can’t be helped, but it just gets a bit annoying to have to lug something this big around to work as part of a “mobile” package.


Transforming CAE With MSC Apex Cheetah Release: Modeler and Structures

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

MSC Software Corp. recently announced a new release of MSC Apex, the company’s newest CAE platform. The MSC Apex Cheetah release introduces:

  • The third release of MSC Apex Modeler – A CAE Specific direct modeling and meshing solution that streamlines CAD clean-up, simplification, and meshing workflow.
  • The first release of MSC Apex Structures – An add-on to MSC Apex Modeler which now expands MSC Apex to a fully integrated and generative structural analysis solution.

Both MSC Apex products, Modeler and Structures are complementary to Patran and MSC Nastran, if you feel the need to go a step further in CAE. If you need this additional capability, the Apex products do not expose you intellectual property (IP) to those who have no business being exposed to it.

According to the company, the new release enhances workflow and daily productivity with several modeling and analysis capabilities, and gives you the ability to perform design analysis more comprehensively and easily.

To get a better feel for these claims, we spoke with said Hugues Jeancolas, MSC Apex Product Manager who said, “Cheetah is a milestone release for MSC Apex, now delivering its first solver integrated solution for interactive and incremental structural analysis. Modeling, validating, solving, and exploring designs has never been this efficient and easy. MSC Apex helps users to crush the amount of time that it normally takes to build and validate models, a task that does not add any value to the design process. This frees our users to focus on delivering not just acceptable designs but ones that are optimal – in an environment that is fun to use.”

CAE, fun to use? That may be a bit of a stretch, but the demos we have seen make the claim a bit easier to swallow.

MSC Apex Cheetah Release Overview


Thursday, July 9th, 2015

For many years all of the major CAD vendors have been touting the importance of managing the mountains of design, engineering, and manufacturing data created using their software. Conversely, most manufacturing organizations, large and small, have made the transition from 2D to 3D and are finally investigating how to best manage these mountains of CAD and associated product development data beyond files, folders, Excel spreadsheets, Window Explorer, and FTP servers.

It is estimated that approximately 70% of commercial CAD seats today still are not connected to any product data management (PDM) system, and the CAD/PDM/PLM companies are very aware of this situation and are doing everything possible to change it. It has come down to an aggressive SMB-marketing of existing “scaled down” or “right-sized” PLM solutions, as well as introducing of new opportunities by leveraging cloud and open source solutions.

The biggest challenge in the SMB space is promoting an answer to the question, “Why change?” At the end of the day, if a company can get things done by using Excel, Office and email, a very compelling alternative solution to change is needed. Small doesn’t necessarily mean simple. Small- and medium-sized business is complicated and competitive. Cost and implementation challenges are still two key elements that every vendor struggles with when trying to provide a viable PDM solution for SMBs.

Various sources claim the following benefits of PDM, including:

  • 30 percent to 70 percent shorter development time
  • 65 percent to 90 percent fewer engineering changes
  • 20 percent to 90 percent faster time to market
  • 200 percent to 600 percent higher quality
  • 20 percent to 110 percent higher productivity for engineers

While these are impressive figures, many SMBs are still not convinced of the benefits of PDM and remain on the fence as to whether to implement it or not. This indecision presents both a challenge and an opportunity for making believers of SMBs in PDM.

Generic Product Data Management Overview (From Wikipedia)

Organizations implement PDM for many different reasons, but virtually all implement with common goals, including:

  • Securely controlling product-related information
  • Sharing product knowledge for collaboration
  • Searching for and reusing product information.

The two biggest words and phrases that resonate with SMBs regarding PDM are “preconfigured process workflow” and “design reuse.”


Desktop 3D Printers Grow Beyond Trinkets, Tchotchkes, and Toys

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Without a doubt, one of the biggest developments in the MCAD world in the past few years has been 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing). Until relatively recently, though, the cost of the 3D printing machines was cost prohibitive for all but large companies. To a large extent, costs have been plummeting, but there are machines that cost more than a million dollars. However, that is changing with the advent of relatively low-cost desktop 3D printers.

3D printers sound cool, and to a large extent they are. But, before running out to buy one, there are a few things to keep in mind. Currently, a machine will set you back $500 to $5,000, plus $40 to $100 for a roll of plastic filament (think Weed Wacker) for producing parts. Also keep in mind that producing one small object could take hours, and end up costing much more than buying it. Don’t forget, too, that you need some technical know-how to make it all work, including how to create a solid model with a CAD tool. As I have maintained for some time, with all the online 3D printing services that are available, why buy when you can rent. Check out my blog post on this sentiment from last year entitled, “3D Printing Goes Retail: Why Buy When You Can Rent?”

Being the smiling skeptic that I am, I also wrote a blog entitled “Is 3D Printing Really A Miracle?” My short answers are “Yes” and “No.”

That’s why I have said that the first low-cost devices were more fun than functional, and appealed to DIYers, hobbyists, and early adopters. All that is changing as the technology matures, prices come down, more materials become available, and part quality vastly improves.

Desktop 3D Printers


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