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Archive for December, 2015

Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016 From MCADCafe

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

The end of one year and the beginning of another always makes me give pause to what has transpired in the recent past as well as what might occur in the future. For me, 2015 was no different in this regard.

Below are some of the highlights of 2015 in the MCAD arena. Keep in mind they are in no particular order, and I know there are others I could have chosen, so if I missed any, let me know.

The Cloud — It’s not just for storage anymore. As a matter of fact, 2015 saw some real innovation for cloud-based computing horsepower and applications, such as those from Onshape and Autodesk. While there are still definite concerns about cloud security and IP, the volume level isn’t quite as high as it had been in the recent past. We consider cloud-based apps to be the most significant MCAD-related technology for 2015.

Continued Consolidation — The acquisition trained continued to roll this year in many areas, including augmented reality, simulation, rendering, and Internet of Things (IoT). While consolidation does mean fewer companies for the short term, it diversifies the acquiring companies with different results for customers — some good, some not so good.

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Creating Excitement and Closing Skills Gap In Manufacturing

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

My late father-in-law (and his father) were master machinists who made excellent tools and decent livings over the course of their careers. I chose not to follow in their footsteps, but rather, to go to college instead. However, I have always considered tool making and manufacturing to be noble professions and ones that have contributed immensely to the quality of our lives.

With all the news we continue to hear today about product design, engineering, and manufacturing increasingly being outsourced in every direction away from North America, surprisingly little coverage seems to be given to one of the foundational pillars of product manufacturing, namely, tooling and tool making.

Although most of our readers are manufacturing-savvy, let’s first define what we mean by “tooling,” because it’s often a misunderstood term by those outside manufacturing. Simply put, tooling entails the tools, machines, or other devices required to manufacture products – everything from car fenders to detergent bottles. The two most prominent groups of toolmakers are die makers whose tools stamp out metal parts, and mold makers whose tools mold plastic parts.

Breaking Tool Making – Is Tool Making Your Passion?

The transportation sector (primarily automotive) still dominates the tooling industry. Because the automotive sector is outsourced much of its manufacturing overseas, it has become very clear why tool and die makers, especially the family-owned small ones with five to 100 employees have suffered the most. It’s estimated that approximately 60% of stamping dies and 40% of plastic molds are used directly or indirectly by automakers worldwide, so it’s no wonder that the smaller tool shops are bearing the brunt of offshore outsourcing. This offshore outsourcing has cost a huge number of tooling jobs in North America, according to estimates from several sources.

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Just One Word . . . Graphene

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Almost 50 years ago, The Graduate, a 1967 film about Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate who is talented, but aimless, premiered. It’s a good movie even today, but one of the better scenes is one when Ben is asked and advised about his future plans. Remember this one?

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Today, I see a potential parallel to a material beyond plastics – graphene.
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Conductive Ink Expands Electrical Design Possibilities

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

This week Nano Dimension Technologies announced that it had filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a proprietary copper ink that is used for printing electronic conductors.

The copper nanoparticle-based ink provides improved oxidation resistance with the ability to print copper with industrial 3D digital printers.

Copper, of course, is an electrically conductive metal, and its low price gives it a significant advantage when compared to silver (although copper is more electrically resistive than silver). However, copper nanoparticles rapidly oxidize upon contact with air that impairs electrical conductivity.

The patent application that the company has filed is an approach for overcoming the problem of copper nanoparticle oxidation. Overcoming this challenge introduces an effective and less costly method for industrial additive manufacturing of printed electronics by 3D printing.

Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension, said, “Our conversations with companies across different industrial sectors indicate a strong demand for our 3D printed electronics technology. The demand is not limited to prototyping, but also includes industrial scale manufacturing applications.

The current global PCB market is estimated to be larger than $70 billion and is expected to reach about $100 billion in coming years.  A high-performance copper nanoparticle ink presents an opportunity to significantly impact this huge market.”
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