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RAPID + TCT 2019: AM Industry Continues to Explode with Growth

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

A couple weeks ago I attended the biggest and most important 3D printing/additive manufacturing conference and exhibition in North America, RAPID + TCT 2019. I was not disappointed and continue to be amazed at the number of new companies that continue to proliferate and evolve at this event put on by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). This year’s event attracted over 7000 attendees, including approximately 50% who said they were first timers – always a good sign for event organizers (and exhibitors), and testimony to an industry that continues to enjoy large growth.

There were well over 400 exhibitors at RAPID + TCT 2019, so trying to see them all was an impossible dream. However, I did talk with several that had technologies that I felt were particularly innovative, and briefly discuss below (in alphabetical order):

CGTech VERICUT Additive Module — Simulates both additive and traditional machining (milling and turning) capabilities of new hybrid CNC machines. It provides CNC machine simulation for accurate laser cladding and material deposition. VERICUT reads the laser parameters, controls laser wattage, flow of carrier gas, and metallic powder specific to each job/material type. Simulation is powered by the same post-processed NC code used to drive the CNC machine, that enables users to ensure additive functions are within proper ranges. With the module, VERICUT makes it simple to alternate from additive, to cutting, and back to additive in any sequence.

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Digital Alloys Joule Printing — Uses commodity wire as the raw material rather than expensive powders. It works with any metal in wire form. The technology is a simple, high speed process for melting wire into shapes with the following capabilities:

  • Rapid, precise motion and wire feed systems position the tip of the wire in contact with a desired printing (melting) location.
  • Once the wire is positioned, the system pushes current through the wire and part being printed and into the print bed. The current melts the wire tip using joule heating (aka “resistance heating”), the same principle that heats a coil in a toaster.
  • Melting and wire feed continue while the print head moves, laying down beads of metal which are fused together to form fully dense metal parts.

A key is that positioning and melting of the wire occur simultaneously in a single step. This simplicity lowers cost, saves time, and increases repeatability. There is no need for powder handling, feeding and spreading, no need for binding/debinding, and no need for sintering – and no need for the costs, time delays and variability that these steps can introduce.

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BOOM Technology Bringing Back Supersonic Jets to Commercial Air Travel

Friday, May 17th, 2019

“Speed creates closeness. Flights twice as fast mean we can go twice as far—bringing more people, places, and cultures into our lives.”

-Boom Technology

Although travel by air has become more widespread over the past several decades, with few exceptions, aircraft design and speeds haven’t really changed all that much. Boom Technology hopes to reverse that trend with a supersonic transport plane that is currently being developed.

Once operational, the company’s flagship airliner, Overture, will become the fastest commercial airplane in history, flying Mach 2.2 from New York to London in 3.25 hours and from Tokyo to San Francisco in 5.5 hours. The company is shooting for introducing Overture in 2023.

Boom Supersonic Jet

The prototype for Overture—affectionately known as “Baby Boom”—XB-1 demonstrates the key technologies for safe, efficient travel at Mach 2.2. XB-1 combines over 3,700 parts, including custom composite structure, tricycle landing gear, flight control actuators, systems for pressurization and cooling, avionics, and a high-bandwidth telemetry system. The company is scheduled to flight test Baby Boom, a one-third-scale demonstrator sometime in 2019.

Supersonic airplanes must balance low-speed stability with high-speed efficiency. XB-1 was designed using powerful computer simulations and validated through three rounds of wind tunnel testing.

Boom’s aircraft employ carbon composites because they are stronger, lighter, and more stable at high temperatures compared to aluminum. For example, XB-1’s tail, pictured under construction above, weighs just 43 pounds but carries over 10,000 pounds of load at temperatures exceeding 300°F.

XB-1’s intakes provide stable, consistent airflow for its engines across a variety of speeds and conditions. Software-controlled variable compression ramps position shockwaves precisely, allowing efficient operation throughout the flight envelope.

Interview with Paulina Tellebo, Marketing-communication Manager at Tacton: Making Manufacturing Complex Products Simple

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Sanjay Gangal interviews Paulina Tellebo, Marketing-communication Manager of Tacton at SolidWorks world

Sanjay : Can you tell our audience a little about Tacton.

Paulina : Tacton is a world leader in software solutions for the manufacturing industry. We support manufacturers across the globe with digitalizing their sales process and connecting that to product design, and order fulfillment. We specifically serve manufacturers with really complex products, so that's our area of expertise.

As a leader in configure price quote (CPQ), we began in Sweden in 1987. With extensive industry expertise, we understand the challenges of high variance, high complexity manufacturing like no one else. We see the opportunities of tomorrow, anticipating the challenges of Industry 4.0. Furthermore, Gartner has recognized Tacton CPQ as the go-to vendor for manufacturers in the following areas:

• Machinery
• Production lines
• Power generation
• Medtech equipment
• Heavy vehicles and equipment
• Air and fluid processing


The Shape of Possibility: SOLIDWORKS World 2019

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

The theme of SOLIDWORKS World 2019 held February 11-13 in Dallas, Texas, was “Where possibility takes form…”

Tracy B Wilson of SOLIDWORKS made the introductions at the General Session, beginning with Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO, SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes.


SOLIDWORKS World 2019 Draws a Record Crowd

Friday, February 15th, 2019

SOLIDWORKS World 2019, Day 1 of the General Session kicked off in Dallas, TX with some major product, strategy and event announcements and closed the morning with keynote speaker Jim McKelvey.


MCADCafe Industry Predictions for 2019 – Request for Submission

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018


Please send me ( your industry predictions for 2019 by January 7th for inclusion in an editorial to be published in January. Please keep your submission to 100-500 words, with author’s name, email address, photo and short bio.

The editorial will be included in the MCADWeekly e-Magazine sent to our 30,000 subscribers.

Do have a safe and wonderful holiday season and look forward to hearing from you in or before the New Year!

Sanjay Gangal
www.MCADCafe.Com — The #1 CAD & Manufacturing Web Portal
eMail: Sanjay@MCADCafe.Com
Twitter: @NewOnMCADCafe or
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Customers and Partners Demonstrate Continued Confidence in ESPRIT CAM Software

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

A couple times this year, I have met up with CAM developer DP Technology. Each meeting impressed me with the company itself and where its ESPRIT CAM Software product line is heading.

DP Technology is the developer of the diverse ESPRIT CAM Software system sold and supported via the company’s regional offices and its network of resellers throughout the world. ESPRIT has also developed close partnerships with several leading milling, turning, and wire-EDM machine tool manufacturers, such as Okuma, Mazak, DMG Mori, Citizen, Mitsubishi, and GF AgiCharmilles.

From the beginning and still one of the company’s main goals is ease of use, and greatly reducing the learning curve, which Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp., said is usually on the order of a year or more for most competing CAM products. Learning is one thing, mastering is another, and DP Technology is more interested in providing its customers the potential at mastery.

Video Interview with Don Davies of DP Technology at IMTS 2018

When asked about the state of the CAM market, Davies said that it is largely fragmented into distinct segments – integrated CAD/CAM vendors, and independent CAM vendors. He said each has its own advantages but thought that the dedicated efforts that independent companies specializing in CAM bring the most to the table, and obviously, he felt that DP Technology had the ability to serve up the most comprehensive product/technology lineup in the competitive CAM market.


Altair Acquires SIMSOLID

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Altair, a company that promotes and enables “Simulation-Driven Innovation” has acquired  SIMSOLID, a company founded by asking a simple question:  “Why does the geometry used in the Design and Structural Simulation worlds have to be so different?”

SIMSOLID works on full-fidelity CAD assemblies to provide fast, accurate, and robust structural simulation without requiring geometry simplification, cleanup, or meshing.  Its underlying technology is based largely on the work of Dr. Victor Apanovitch, a former professor at Belarus Polytechnic University and the cofounder of SIMSOLID Corporation.

Bricsys Acquisition Could Challenge Autodesk

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

At its annual user conference this week in London, Bricsys, a developer of CAD software that has provided open, collaborative construction design technology since its founding in 2002, announced that it had been acquired by Hexagon AB and will become a part of Hexagon PPM (Plant, Process & Marine). With the Bricsys acquisition, Hexagon strengthens its construction solutions portfolio and position for the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC ) market.

The acquisition should help Bricsys make inroads to the North American market, and could prove to be a great opportunity for gaining prospective current (disgruntled) Autodesk customers, developers, and resellers. It will be interesting to see how Autodesk responds as this looks to be a real challenge to its historical territory.

The acquisition also brings potentially strong implications to Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence, but more about that later.

Some Second Thoughts About Onshape and Magic Leap

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Last week I covered the new partnership between Onshape and Magic Leap with a 3D design app for Onshape’s spatial computing initiative. The new CAD app is being developed for the Magic Leap One Creator Edition, a lightweight, wearable computer and headset for a unique mixed reality user experience.

When wearing Magic Leap’s Lightwear headset, which allows users to see contextually aware digital objects in the real world, engineers will be able to bring life-size 3D CAD models into their physical surroundings and collaborate on design changes. “We’re excited to bring the many benefits of modern CAD to engineers in the Magicverse,” said Onshape CEO, Jon Hirschtick. “For more than a half-century, CAD users were confined to working on a flat screen. The Magic Leap One will push product design into a whole new stratosphere.”

It seems that Magic Leap’s focus with LeapCon was software over hardware. Given that the platform is in need of content, that’s probably a good idea.

All of this might be OK for developers (such as Onshape) and early adopters, but I don’t think it’s very consumer-friendly at this point for reasons I’ll discuss below. Having thought it over, I think healthy skepticism seems appropriate at this juncture.

As great as it initially sounded, I reflected on exactly what was meant by the announcement because it’s such a new development platform and few details were provided. With that in mind, I contacted Onshape about any enlightenment they could provide about the announcement.

Below are some responses to questions I posed to an Onshape spokesperson regarding the technology and partnership:

Can you provide any details on what the app will actually do?
Onshape: The vision is that this app will extend Onshape’s full capabilities to the Magic Leap platform, just like we have with our iOS and Android mobile apps for phones and tablets. This will NOT be a simple CAD-viewing tool. When this app is released, engineers will be able to model and edit within the Magic Leap mixed-reality universe – and collaborate with their design and manufacturing teams, and outside partners, just like they currently do with Onshape.
When will the app be available?
Onshape: We have not announced a release date. Jon Hirschtick’s presentation at Leap Con was an industry preview of the app and the first public announcement of the Onshape-Magic Leap partnership, which has been in stealth mode for many months.
What will the app be called?
Onshape: “Onshape for Magic Leap”
Approximately what will the app cost?
Onshape: This app is still in development and there has been no announcement about cost.
How does Onshape envision the app working for multi-party collaboration? 
Onshape: Collaboration through the “Onshape for Magic Leap” app would work exactly the same way as collaboration works with Onshape currently. Every member of a team would instantly see design changes in real time as they are made. The only difference is that Onshape users would be able to their life-size models in a richer, more immersive environment than they do on the flat screens of their laptops, phones, or tablets. 
How about a public demonstration on how this all works?
Any public demonstration will depend on our development cycle, which isn’t public.
So there you have it from the source. While my questions cleared up a couple things, I thought about the bigger picture and the implications of the partnership.
Needless to say, Onshape was not the only technology demonstrated at last week’s conference. In fact, the demonstrations were all over the place, ranging from Star Wars to porgs to controlling in-home devices, such as speakers and lamps.
Of course, if you buy in, you’ll have to lay down $2,295 for the privilege of wearing the computer and headset. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of money for a product still in its early stages. Although corporations could afford this, much as the CAVE walls of the past, I don’t see this as affordable and accessible enough for the masses yet.
The announcement that Onshape made last week with Magic Leap  does indeed mark a real advancement for product design on what could be regarded as a new development platform that combines mixed reality and CAD. Onshape has been at the forefront of cloud-based design, but the announcement shows that they may really be on to something that truly sets them apart in a space that is becoming increasingly crowded with “me-toos,” but that remains to be seen.
Honestly, though, at this stage of development and price point, I’d consider the Magic Leap device experimental and out of step with reality (pardon the play on words). However, done right, this technology and those that will will follow, the possibilities for mixed reality experiences are almost endless.
Of course the company says that the technology could be used for just about everything, but from what I’ve seen, read, and heard, there is still a long way to go.
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