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School’s Out for Summer (And For Mr. Rowe, Too)

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

This week marks the end of grand experiment and challenge for me – I’ve taught middle school math for the past 39 weeks. I began the school with an apprehensive sense of anxiousness and hope and ended it with a great sense of accomplishment and relief.

Before I got involved this school year I had been interested not only in education in general, but how I might get actively involved, especially at the high school level in math and/or science. No, I have never been a teacher in a formal sense, and no, I don’t have a teaching credential either (something I was reminded of continually throughout the year). Even though I had the will and desire to become a teacher, unless I had a teaching license issued by the state of Colorado, my options were scarce.

I could have been a volunteer or a private tutor, but for me these options were limited in scope, responsibility, and personal satisfaction. I thought last year that I was at a dead end until I remembered an ad I had seen and saved a couple of years previously about a program called Denver Math Fellows. This program is a large-scale supplemental intervention program integrated into the school day.

WLA DMF 3rd Period

A Typical Classroom Setting

The concept and possibility of becoming a Denver Math Fellow (DMF) really appealed to me because one of the primary qualifications was a college degree (mine’s in industrial design/mechanical engineering technology). This was a good option for me because I had never been a teacher before. Other qualifications included the desire to help students close the opportunity gap in math, as well as committing to at least a one-year term of service — in my case August 2015 through this week.


Shapeways Hopes To Provide Boost For HP Jet Fusion 3D Printers

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Shapeways, a leading 3D printing service and marketplace for consumers, announced a collaboration with HP Inc. to help drive HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Printer.  Shapeways said it is the first company to receive an early prototype unit in its Eindhoven, Netherlands factory and is working closely with HP.  Once publicly available sometime later this year, Shapeways hopes the new commercial HP offering will provide its 3D community with a superior quality black nylon material that will 3D print in greater detail, with a faster lead time, and at a lower cost than current dyed nylons.

Shapeways produces roughly 3,000 unique products every day and over 1 million unique products annually.

“We chose to work with Shapeways because they are the leading authority in bringing creative ideas to life and are the largest consumer 3D printing portal, with 3,000 products made every day,” said Stephen Nigro, president of HP’s 3D printing business.  “The HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution will enable Shapeways to bring high quality parts up to 10 times faster than before for lower cost.”

HP Shapeways Printer1

HP’s Virginia Palacio and Stefan Rink, Shapeways VP of Manufacturing, with the new HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system, installed in Shapeways’ Eindhoven factory.

According to Shapeways, in addition to offering superior quality, this new technology could potentially reduce standard shipping from the current seven business days to next day delivery.

UPS Launching Global On-Demand 3D Printing Manufacturing Network

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The notion of a 3D printer in every home has received a lot of attention in the past few years, and sales of relatively low cost 3D printers have skyrocketed.

But why? For a process and capability that was supposed to be ubiquitous and necessary for every home? Really? The machines may be relatively inexpensive, but how many parts are you truly going to want to ultimately design and produce? Then there are material, size/volume, and physical characteristic, and quality limitations. The machines can also be fickle to set up and maintain. I suspect that after an initial period of excitement and promise, a lot of early-purchase 3D printers are now sitting idle and collecting dust.

Collaborative Robots: The Next Big Thing In Robotics

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Robots come in many shapes, sizes, functions, and prices. One of the most interesting areas of robotics that I’ve followed for the past few years are known as collaborative robots.

A collaborative robot (cobot or co-bot) is a robot designed to assist human beings as a guide or assistant in a specific task, whereas a “regular” robot is designed to be programmed to work more or less autonomously. Generally, a cobot  works collaboratively with a human and allows that human to perform certain operations successfully if they fit within the scope of the task and to steer the human on a correct path when the human begins to stray from or exceed the scope of the task.

Because co-bots are relatively affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are adopting this technology at rapid rates, and some analysts expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few years.

Open Source Software For 3D Printing: Rapidly Evolving Capabilities

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Like virtually all of our readers, I have purchased and used a lot of proprietary software for a long time. I am also a fan and proponent of the open software and hardware movement. Here, I’ll touch on open source hardware and focus on open source software.

One of the things I really like about source software and hardware is that it is about working not with just technology, but people. Also, the open source software and hardware sectors are growing. Open source software is not driven by corporate budgets, but by people fulfilling a need and software development and use freedom. My open source experience has also taught me that the currency of open source is not necessarily money, but more likely, beer and T-shirts.

Wohlers Report 2016: The Best 3D Printing Resource Just Keeps Getting Better

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2016, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, interest in 3D printing again reached an unprecedented level and exceeded $5.1 billion last year, as well as growing by $1 billion for the second consecutive year.

Wohlers Associates is widely recognized as the leading consulting firm and foremost authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This annual publication has served as the undisputed industry-leading report on the subject for more than two decades. Over its 21 years of publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing—terms that are used interchangeably by the company and industry. I think it easily remains the most comprehensive resource on the topic and market.

Lantek Sheet Metal Software Release Moves Customers Closer to Industry 4.0

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Lantek, a provider of sheet metal software systems announced the global 2016 release of its Lantek Factory concept and associated software products. The new version is targeted toward companies producing parts for sheet metal tubes and profiles. According to the company, the new release provides capabilities for customers to implement Industry 4.0 advanced and agile manufacturing processes. It’s the Industry 4.0 angle that makes this announcement really interesting.

Will 3DPLM Become Newest Dassault Systemes’ Newest 3D Experience Compass Point?

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Last week, Dassault Systèmes announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire full ownership of 3DPLM Software Ltd. (3DPLM), its joint venture in India with Geometric Ltd.

3DPLM, formed in 2002 with Dassault, has a team of about 2,000 employees in India working on research and development and services related to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and brand applications. In 2002, Geometric was a joint venture with Dassault Systèmes, 3D PLM Software Solutions Ltd. with an equity participation of 58% and 42% respectively.

In other words, moving forward to last week, Dassault Systemes said it will acquire all of 3DPLM Software, an R&D company it owns jointly with Geometric, an Indian engineering services provider. The transaction means that the French PLM software group will be able to fully integrate 3DPLM into its operations, which center around its 3D Experience platform.

IFWE Compass


MakerBot Reaches 100k 3D Printers Worldwide

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

This week MakerBot announced that it had sold more than 100,000 3D printers worldwide. The company said it was able to reach this milestone (as the first 3D printer company to do it) by providing an accessible, affordable, and easy-to-use 3D printing experience.

“Being the first company to have sold 100,000 3D printers is a major milestone for MakerBot and the entire industry,” said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO at MakerBot. “MakerBot has made 3D printing more accessible and today is empowering businesses and educators to redefine what’s possible. What was once a product used only by makers and hobbyists has matured significantly and become an indispensible tool that is changing the way students learn and businesses innovate.”

MakerBot was one of the first companies to make 3D printing accessible and affordable. Since its founding in 2009, MakerBot has pushed 3D printing and has introduced many industry firsts. Thingiverse was the first platform where anyone could share 3D designs and launched even before MakerBot was founded. In 2009, MakerBot introduced its first 3D printer, the Cupcake CNC, at SXSW. In 2010, MakerBot became the first company to present a 3D printer at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Now, 3D printing is its own category at CES with a myriad of 3D printing companies from around the world in attendance each year.

MakerBot 5th Generation 3D Printer


Are Software Patents Relevant?

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

While proponents (usually with deep pockets) have touted their benefits, software patents have also been used in the software industry to suppress innovation, kill competition, generate undeserved royalties, and make patent attorneys rich. So I ask, are software patents still relevant?

It’s no secret that the engineering software business is extremely competitive, as it always has been. The engineering software business has also proven to be a very fertile ground for lawsuits regarding patent infringement, reverse engineering, and outright copying and pasting blocks of code.

Could stronger patent protection have prevented this from happening? Maybe yes, but probably, no.

The Danger of Software Patents – Richard Stallman

Software patents has been hotly debated for years. Opponents to them have gained more visibility with less resources through the years than pro-patent supporters. Through these debates, arguments for and critiques against software patents have been focused mostly on the economic consequences of software patents, but there is a lot more to it than just money.


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