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3D Printing At CES 2017: Metals, Ceramics, and Ultra-Low Cost

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Last week marked the 50th edition of one of the world’s biggest technology spectacles – CES 2017 – showcasing the connected future of technology. With more than 3,800 exhibiting companies and exhibit space of more than 2.6 million net square feet, CES 2017 hosted some the world’s biggest companies in addition to hosting more than 600 startups. More than 175,000 industry attendees, including 55,000 from outside the U.S., convened in Las Vegas to discover the latest and greatest in many segments of the technology industry.

Probably one of the big trends at CES 2017 was Amazon’s Alexa assistant integrated into all sorts of gadgets everywhere, including cars! Not to be outdone, at this year’s CES, though, no fewer than 56 exhibitors were under the 3D Printing banner – many that you’ve heard of and a few that you probably haven’t. Although there were some basic retreads on previously released products, there were significant developments presented, and the ones that caught our eye were in the areas of materials (metals and ceramics) and affordability (sub-$500 machines).

CES 2017 3D Printing Technologies

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PTC Selected as IIoT Company Of The Year For 2016

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Just about a year ago, PTC received the IoT Innovation Vendor of the Year Award from marketing analytics and consulting firm Compass Intelligence at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Compass Intelligence Annual Awards recognize the best Internet of Things (IoT) products and services offered in the market during the past year.

In the view of the award presenting organization, PTC had become a leading provider of technology that enables its customers to realize the value inherent in the Internet of Things. As well, in their opinion, PTC’s CEO, Jim Heppelmann, had become a major thought leader, having coauthored two seminal HBR articles that describe the implications of the IoT and offering companies a blueprint to get started on their own IoT journeys.

This week PTC announced that it had been named Industrial Internet of Things Company of the Year by IoT Breakthrough, an independent organization dedicated to recognizing IoT products and companies that stand out in the industry. PTC also received the IoT Breakthrough award for “Industrial IoT Solution of the Year” for its Kepware KEPServerEX industrial connectivity software.

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The Catalysts For Connected Manufacturing

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Cloud computing is helping more manufacturers become more agile and competitive, but it is by no means the only aspect of improving manufacturing practices. There are actually several technologies involved with making connected smart manufacturing a reality.

That’s just part of the findings of the 2016 State of Manufacturing study written by Plex Systems and based on survey responses from approximately 200 manufacturers.

Last year’s State of Manufacturing Technology report validated that the cloud is one of the primary catalysts for technology usage overall. Fundamentally, the cloud reduces the IT cost and personnel burden for core systems and administration, opening up resources for greater innovation and much needed focus on higher-value technology projects. The core capabilities inherent in modern cloud solutions—mobility, ease of integration, configurability, and the elimination of upgrade cycles— also make it easier and less expensive for manufacturers to connect their people, equipment, materials, suppliers, and customers.

Connected Manufacturing

This year’s survey discusses an emerging trend: connected manufacturing. Organizations are building on the connectivity of the cloud and leveraging integration that extends from mobile devices to plant floor equipment, customers to suppliers, and people to materials. These capabilities are providing a new application foundation for everything from agile process design to enterprise supply-chain management, innovation, and product quality.

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Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

I read a lot of books, mostly non-fiction and technical in both hardcopy and digital formats. Although I get through most of them, there are some I don’t even try to finish, and a few become favorites that I keep for future reading and reference. I recently read a book entitled Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook by Rosemary Astheimer. When I saw Handbook in the title, I thought it would be another dry reference book, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more than that — it’s a good learning and reference resource.

The book’s author, Rosemary L. Astheimer, is an application engineer for Action Engineering, as well as a Continuing Lecturer for the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her Masters of Software Engineering from Brandeis University. Before joining the faculty in 2014, Ms. Astheimer spent over 15 years working in the CAD software industry. She began her career in software support, transitioned into a pre-sales application engineer focusing on business development of new products and was most recently a product manager.

I first met and interviewed Ms. Astheimer at PTC’s LiveWorx 2016 in Boston. She knows her stuff.

ModelCHECK Cover Only

What Is ModelCHECK?

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Siemens Goes ECAD With Mentor Graphics Acquisition

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

By acquiring one of ECAD’s giants, Mentor Graphics, Siemens continues to round out its design capabilities far beyond its MCAD roots as part of its Vision 2020 quest. Siemens says the acquisition is an extension of “shaping the Digital Industrial Enterprise by expanding its portfolio for industrial software.”

Under terms of the agreement, Siemens will acquire Mentor for $37.25 per share in cash, which represents a value of $4.5 billion. The offer price represents a 21% premium to Mentor’s closing price on November 11, 2016, the last trading day prior to the announcement.

Siemens Logo

Major Mentor shareholder Elliott Management has committed to support the transaction. In many ways, I don’t think Mentor had much of a chance of fending off the acquisition, as its profits were minuscule (and had been for some time), and got strong-armed by Elliott who owns a good chunk (~8%) of Mentor. By the way, Elliott blessed the offer.

Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer, said when it raised its stake it saw numerous opportunities to boost Mentor’s “deeply undervalued” shares and had started talks with the company’s management and board. According to the company, the acquisition is a “great outcome” for Mentor shareholders as the company will benefit from Siemens’s increased scale and greater resources.

Mentor Graphics Logo

The acquisition extends Siemens’ Digital Enterprise Software portfolio with Mentor’s electronics IC and systems design, simulation, and manufacturing software – capabilities essential for smart connected products, such as autonomous vehicles.
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Looking Ahead: 2017 MCADCafe Editorial Lineup

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

It’s almost the end of November, so with just over a month left of this year, it’s not too early to start thinking about what we’ll be covering in 2017. The calendar below reflects what we perceive as some of the most important topics today, as well as feedback from our readers and other supporters.

The main theme for each month will be covered in an extended article or series of articles so that the topic can be covered in a more comprehensive way. We’ll also be covering some of the major MCAD events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees.

We’ll also be covering some of the major MCAD events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees. All of the events we attend will include daily written coverage and Tweets throughout event days, as well as video and audio interviews.

If you have any thoughts of topics you would like to see covered in 2015, feel free to contact me at jeff@ibsystems.com or 719.221.1867.

We look forward to an exciting 2017and providing you with the MCAD content you want most for improving your design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

Keep MCADCafe.com your source for all things MCAD because 2017 is going to be a great year!

2017 MCADCafe Editorial Calendar of Monthly Topics

January 2017 – CAM Trends

February 2017 — Cloud Computing with MCAD Applications

Show Coverage — SolidWorks World 2017

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Are We Finally Witnessing the Future of Making Things?

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Along with almost 10,000 other attendees, I was in Las Vegas this week at Autodesk University and am still trying to comprehend if I’ve just seen the future of manufacturing.

To a large extent, Autodesk’s vision for the future of making things stems from what it calls generative design.

So what is generative design? According to Autodesk’s official definition, generative design mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design.

AU 2016 2

AU 2016: The Future Of Making Things

In the digital realm, designers and engineers input design goals into generative design software, along with parameters, such as manufacturing methods, materials, and cost constraints. Using cloud computing, the software quickly explores all possible permutations of a solution, generating design alternatives. The software then tests and learns from each iteration what works, what doesn’t, and what works best.

In other words, with generative design, there is not necessarily a single solution to a problem, instead, there are potentially thousands of solutions that address the initial problem.

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MBD Finally Gaining Momentum for Smart Manufacturing

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a very interesting event called the 3D Collaboration & Interoperability Congress 2016 (3D CIC) that was hosted by our colleagues at Action Engineering. The actual conference event was two days, but was preceded by a SOLIDWORKS user group meeting that focused exclusively on model-based definition (MBD) for an entire day. Myself, along with about 60 other attendees got a good look at MBD, not just SOLIDWORKS’ perspective, but a broader view, as well.

I was fortunate to sit next to Oboe Wu, product manager at SOLIDWORKS who is a huge proponent of MBD. With SOLIDWORKS MBD, you can communicate product and PMI directly in 3D, bypassing time-consuming 2D processes, in other words, drawings.

SOLIDWORKS MBD sets data such as product models, dimensions, geometric tolerances, surface finishes, welding symbols, bills of material (BOM), callouts, tables, notes, Meta properties, and other annotations within the SOLIDWORKS 3D environment in 3D PMI. Because all the information needed to guide the operation is integrated with the 3D models, traditional 2D drawings are no longer needed (at least in theory).

With MBD, 2D drawings become less necessary and meaningful. Instead of having a 3D model and a 2D drawing in a traditional workflow, the model is the drawing in an MBD workflow. The MBD approach provides a direct connection and single digital data thread from design to engineering to inspection.

SOLIDWORKS MBD 2017

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One Year In, HP Inc. Continues To Reinvent Itself

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

If there ever was a company that has struggled to reinvent and find itself, as well as its former stature in consumer and commercial technology, it’s HP.

There was a time when HP had no equal in several product segments, such as test & measurement, calculators, pocket PCs/personal assistants, etc., but those days are long gone. Sure, the company reigns in printers, and their desktop and mobile workstations are good, but not nearly as compelling as in the good old days.

HP’s reign as the world’s largest manufacturer of personal computers came to an end in the second quarter of 2013. At the time sales figures showed that Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo shipped more computers during that period than HP, which had held the crown as the largest PC maker since at least 2006.

In an attempt to return to its former glory days, HP split into two public companies with one side focusing on its cloud and enterprise market (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise), and the other on personal systems (computers) and printers (HP Inc.). To make this happen, the company also cut thousands of jobs in the process.


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Wakeup Call For One Of IoT’s Biggest Nightmares – Denial of Service

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Well, it was only a matter of time before what happened last Friday happened. I’m talking about the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) incident on server farms of a key internet firm, Dyn, that repeatedly disrupted access to major websites and online services including Twitter, Netflix,GitHub, and PayPal across the U.S. and Europe last Friday. The White House called the disruption malicious and hacker groups have claimed responsibility, though their assertion is not yet verified.

The event involved multiple denial-of-service (DoS) attacks targeting systems operated by Domain Name System (DNS) provider, Dyn, that rendered major internet platforms and services unavailable to large swaths of North America and Europe.

“The complexity of the attacks is what is making it so difficult for us,” said Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategy officer. “What they are actually doing is moving around the world with each attack.”

As a DNS provider, Dyn provides to end-users the service of mapping an Internet domain name—when, for instance, entered into a web browser—to its corresponding IP address. The DDoS attack involved tens of millions of DNS lookup requests from a large number of IP addresses. The activities are believed to involve a botnet coordinated through a large number of IoT devices that had been infected with the Mirai malware.


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