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Cost Management Moves Up-Front in Design Process with SolidWorks 2013

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Something I considered to be the “sleeper” capability in SolidWorks 2012 was Costing because of its potential impact the top and bottom lines, as well as an engineering tool that upper management could understand and appreciate. It’s gotten better and more comprehensive for 2013. Automatic cost estimation estimates part manufacturing costs using built-in cost templates. These manufacturing templates are customizable, allowing entry of specific manufacturing costs and data, such as material, labor, machine speed and feeds, and setup costs.

Cost management or costing is a process for planning, managing, and controlling the costs of doing business. Ideally, product design projects should have customized costing plans and companies as a whole should integrate costing into their business models. When properly implemented, costing translates into reduced costs for products and services, as well as increased value being delivered to the customer.

Taking this approach to costing helps a company determine whether they accurately estimated expenses initially, and will help to more closely predict expenses in the future. However, costing cannot be used in isolation – projects must be organized and conducted with costing as a vital part of an overall business strategy.

Using SolidWorks Costing, designers can automatically calculate manufacturing cost estimates to ensure they are within design cost goals, and manufacturers can instantly create detailed quotes that are accurate to their specific manufacturing costs and processes. SolidWorks Costing works directly from 3D models – no pre-processing of the models is required. As a design is created, manufacturing costs are automatically calculated allowing designers to always have a current and accurate cost estimate.

A project that is defined through costing will facilitate effective management of the costs it incurs. Effective costing strategies will help deliver a high quality product within a predetermined budget, as well as making it more valuable to the customer.

SolidWorks Costing lets more people in your organization become engaged in reducing product cost while maintaining product quality. It provides a method for establishing and monitoring cost priorities. It improves both bottom line (cost reduction) and top line (increasing sales through higher quality products). Costing is part of an overall business solution that maximizes profits and product quality.

Although it got a relatively slow start, I’m starting to see Costing used earlier in and a true part of the product development process, much like up-front simulation was in the beginning.

SolidWorks Costing is a tool for getting more people to think about both material and process costs from different perspectives. Engineering personnel can leverage costing/cost reduction knowledge and pass it along to others within an organization, so costing is repeatable and becomes a vital aspect of overall corporate culture.

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual Debuts

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013


One of the most eagerly anticipated new product announcements at SolidWorks World 2013 was the SolidWorks “conceptual” application that was eluded to last fall. This announcement was supposed to be one of the highlights of Day 1 of SolidWorks World, but I felt it fell kind of flat. What was presented was SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

From its name, I’m sure you can guess that SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual is a conceptual tool for mechanical design that complements SolidWorks for design refinement. It is the first SolidWorks product based on Dassault Systemes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, something I’m still trying to comprehend – is it a file format, family of products, design philosophy – I don’t really know.

Start the video at 45:00 minutes where the SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual presentation begins with the introduction of Fielder Hiss, SolidWorks’ VP Product Management.

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual merges history, parametrics, and direct editing into a single interface. Why is this a big deal? As a concept evolves, you can make any change necessary to a design while respecting the design intent that was previously created. The so-called Single Modeling Environment lets you evolve from layout sketches to 3D geometry, to separate parts and assemblies, without taking product structure into consideration. Now this is interesting, but not unique to the industry.

As a 3D concept matures, you can use motion simulation to examine the interaction of parts and identify and addess critical design issues early on, before moving on to detail design in SolidWorks.

Since SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual is cloud based, it is always connected to a design database, as well as to other users.  In theory, this provides the ability to secure data, prevent data loss from crashes, and automatically save iterations of concepts. I’m still on the fence on this whole cloud-based thing, but it seems to be inevitable.

Production testing is due to begin in May with general availability coming in October or November of this year.

Unlike most other products introduced at past SolidWorks Worlds, the applause for SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual wasn’t exactly thunderous. If anything, it was polite, but not much more.

I’m reserving major judgment on SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual until it comes out and I can personally check it out, but I am hoping that it proves to offer more of real value than was demonstrated at its coming out party in Orlando.

Was I expecting too much? Maybe, but so was much of the audience.

Flying Robots Swarm SolidWorks World 2013

Friday, February 1st, 2013

The general sessions on the second morning of SolidWorks World 2013 were all about robots – flying robots. Two expert designers discovering new approaches to human/robot interaction and behavior shared their unique experiences. Last time we featured Festo’s SmartBird that flew over the audience.

Earlier that same morning, Dr. Vijay Kumar, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, showcased the potential of agile aerial robots flying in a swarm.

Dr. Kumar’s Scalable sWarms of Autonomous Robots and Mobile Sensors (SWARMS) project brings together experts in artificial intelligence, control theory, robotics, systems engineering and biology, attempting to understand swarming behaviors in nature and applications of biologically-inspired models of swarm behaviors to large networked groups of autonomous vehicles.

Video highlights of Dr. Kumar’s presentation include (minutes into the video):

12:00    20 robots flying in formation

13:00    Flying robots collaborating to carry payloads

14:00    Flying robots collaborating and building a structure

19:45    A swarm of flying robots play the James Bond theme song

The project attempts to answer such questions as:

  • Can large numbers of autonomously functioning vehicles be reliably deployed in the form of a “swarm” to carry out a prescribed mission and to respond as a group to high-level management commands?
  • Can such a group successfully function in a potentially hostile environment, without a designated leader, with limited communications between its members, and/or with different and potentially dynamically changing “roles” for its members?
  • What can we learn about how to organize these teams from biological groupings such as insect swarms, bird flocks, and fish schools?
  • Is there a hierarchy of “compatible” models appropriate to swarming/schooling/flocking which is rich enough to explain these behaviors at various “resolutions” ranging from aggregate characterizations of emergent behavior to detailed descriptions which model individual vehicle dynamics?

According to Dr. Kumar, for collaborative swarming to work, three conditions must be met:

  1. Must have the ability to sense local information
  2. Must have ability to act independently
  3. Must have ability to perform anonymously, agnostic to who or what is next to you in performing a collaborative task

Dr. Kumar said the main goal of the project is to develop a framework and methodology for analyzing swarming behavior in biology and the synthesizing bio-inspired swarming behavior for engineered systems. During his presentation Dr. Kumar demonstrated some amazing things with amazing possibilities courtesy of his aerial robot swarms.

Attempting to find answers to some very complex problems by bringing together a wide variety of experts is what makes science and engineering fascinating and provides compelling reasons to get involved with the design and engineering community.

These two presentations on aerial robotics were among the highest of highlights for me at SolidWorks World 2013 – very entertaining and inspiring.

Bionic Seagull, SmartBird, Soars at SolidWorks World 2013

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The MCADCafe crew  just returned from SolidWorks World 2013 in Orlando. During the conference we saw, heard, and experienced many interesting things, but one of the most intriguing was SmartBird, from automation technology supplier, Festo.

Toward the end of the second day’s general session at SolidWorks World, Elias Knubben, Head of Corporate Bionic Projects at Festo took the stage to discuss the work his group does at Festo. One of the projects he discussed was SmartBird, a radio-controlled ultralight flight model with excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility for a robotic “bird.”

He gave a good presentation on the project, but the exciting part was when an actual working model was brought on stage and sent soaring over the crowd. It flew several times around the auditorium and came to rest when the controller steered SmartBird back toward the stage into Elias’ outstretched arms — he caught it in mid-air to end the flight.

This bionic/robotic “bird” was inspired by the herring gull, and can start, fly, and land autonomously – with no additional drive mechanism. Its wings not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles for specific flight characteristics. This is achieved with an active articulated torsional drive unit, which in combination with a complex control system attains a high level of efficiency during flight operations. In other words, Festo has succeeded in creating an energy-efficient technical adaptation of a flight model from nature.

With SmartBird, Festo has deciphered the flight of birds – an age-old dream realized that I along with the rest of the audience found fascinating. Launches On January 28, 2013!

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Are you actively involved with or just plain interested in the mechanical design workflow from concept through manufacturing? If you are, then make your electro-mechanical resource and community. is a new, innovative, and unique online community that is building a collaborative knowledge base for mechanical design and engineering.

Anyone is welcome to join the community – students, schools, educators, professionals, companies, organizations, DIYers, hobbyists, and enthusiasts.

Receive the benefits of Mechspot membership including peer feedback, unlimited uploads and downloads, a growing creative collaborative community, streaming video, news, jobs, your own customizable portfolio, and much more!

Why should you join” Just some of the compelling reasons include:

  • A home page where we’ll feature your latest uploads, your new products, trial software, press releases, job offerings, and more. We will feature this mix of content on the home page (e-newsletter) from all of our users.
  • Showcasing your design work in your own Gallery, as well as in your own personalized Portfolio.
  • Your username becomes a MechSpot URL extension that takes visitors directly to your Gallery and Portfolio. (<your username>).
  • Learning about and trying out the latest design software with free downloads.
  • Uploading and displaying your own content to help others, as well as to making a unique personal statement.
  • Reaching an expanding audience, since MechSpot is the only digital community devoted solely to mechanical engineering and manufacturing.
  • “Follow” other members and you’ll be notified each time a member uploads material to the site. Your “Followers” and the members that you are Following are displayed in your Gallery and Portfolio.
  • Making any upload one of your “Favorites” for display in your Gallery and Portfolio.
  • Giving and receiving valuable feedback, comments, and ratings on others’ work and products.
  • Building your draft presence with up to 10 provided uploads and providing you with training so you’ll be able to maintain your presence effectively on your own. (We also offer an optional maintenance package where you tell us what assets you’d like presented, and we’ll do the work for you.
  • Participating in the site’s lively community-based forum.
  • Finding or posting a job using MechSpot’s job matching service.

Your unique URL will be (This is your login name – just like it is on Facebook and YouTube.). Mechspot will replace your YouTube and Facebook pages, because it’s just more effective for reaching your audience.

For example, YouTube only allows you to upload and present videos, and these video pages contain advertisements. Mechspot, on the other hand, has no advertisements and allows you to present a wide range of digital content. This ability lets you tell an entire story with videos that present company and product overviews, success stories, tutorials, etc. You can supplement your story with white papers, brochures, specifications, and other collateral material, show off your visualizations, and offer trial software for download.

As a second example, Facebook uses your page, which you pay them to advertise, to place their advertisements on, and of course, doesn’t offer any of the wide range of digital content placement that we do.

Both of these social sites, by their nature, have general audiences and are not targeted toward the mechanical engineering and manufacturing groups you want to reach. is absolutely free to sign up for and use. Everything on the site is 100% free to view and download.’s official launch date is January 28, 2013, but you can become a member right now. After the site launches, additional functionality will continually be added, including enhanced social connectivity, mobile apps (For Apple, Android, and Windows), and a member-customizable newsletter. And that’s only the beginning – is a dynamic community that will grow along with you.

Sign up and come join us today!

We hope to see you online!

Explore & Learn with us!

Explore & Learn: Premiers at SolidWorks World 2013! (Booth #308)

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

It’s the beginning of a new year and the beginning of an exciting new venture – – from IBSystems, the company that has brought you for more than a decade. is an innovative and unique online community for building a collaborative knowledge base for mechanical design and engineering.

Are you involved with or interested in the mechanical design flow from concept to manufacturing? If you are, then make Mechspot your mech-community home base.

All are welcome to join the community – students, schools, educators, professionals, companies, organizations, DIYers, hobbyists, and enthusiasts. There is something for everyone at!

Experience and contribute to a growing collaborative knowledge base.

Receive the benefits of Mechspot membership including peer feedback, unlimited uploads and downloads, a growing creative collaborative community, streaming video, news, jobs, your own customizable portfolio, and much more!

You might be asking yourself, “Why should I join” The following are just some of the reasons why the MechSpot community is the right place for you and your work:

  • Showcase your work in your own Gallery and in your own personalized Portfolio.
  • Your username becomes a MechSpot URL extension that takes visitors directly to your Gallery and Portfolio. (<your username>).
  • Learn about and try out the latest design software.
  • Upload and display your own content to help others and to make a personal statement.
  • Reach an expanding audience. MechSpot is the only digital community devoted solely to mechanical engineering and manufacturing on the Web.
  • “Follow” other members and you’ll be notified each time a member uploads material to the site. Your “Followers” and the members that you are Following are displayed in your Gallery and Portfolio.
  • Make any upload one of your “Favorites” for display in your Gallery and Portfolio.
  • Give and receive valuable feedback, comments, and ratings.
  • Participate in the site’s lively community-based forum.
  • Find a job or post one or more using MechSpot’s job matching service.

Another question you might be asking yourself is, “Does MechSpot cost anything?” The answer is, no. It is absolutely free to sign up for an account and use. Everything on the site is 100% free to view and download, drawing a large potential audience, and giving your work the exposure it deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Join us today and sign up now for your free account.’s official launch date is January 28, 2013, but you can become a member right now. After the site launches, additional functionality will be added, including enhanced social connectivity and a member-customizable newsletter, and that’s only the beginning. MechSpot is a dynamic community that will evolve along with our members’ needs.

If you’ll be attending SolidWorks World 2013 in Orlando, stop by and see us in Booth #308 for a personal demonstration of and how you can benefit from being a part of this exciting new venture. Sign up and come join us today!

Explore & Learn!

MCADCafe Weekly (01/10/2013): Geomagic Rings in New Year In Big Ways

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

3D Systems Acquiring Geomagic

3D Systems announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Geomagic, Inc., a leading global provider of 3D authoring solutions including design, sculpt and scan software tools that are used to create 3D content and inspect products throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. This acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2013, after those conditions are met. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The combination of Geomagic’s powerful sculpting, modeling, scanning and inspecting software tools with 3D Systems’ portfolio strengthens its 3D authoring platform and positions the company for accelerated growth in the fast-growing, 3D content-to-print space. The transaction adds complementary products and technology, increases the company’s reseller coverage globally and is expected to be accretive to its non-GAAP earnings in the first full year following the completion of transaction.

“Geomagic represents the perfect strategic fit for us and we will be thrilled to welcome 3D pioneer and Geomagic Founder and CEO Ping Fu as our Chief Strategy Officer once the deal has closed,” said Abe Reichental, President and CEO, 3D Systems. “Our complementary capabilities in product development, channel coverage and marketing combined with greater efficiencies are sure to result in more affordable and user friendly solutions that will delight our customers and could present attractive long term shareholder value. In line with that, we intend to expand the range of our 3D authoring solutions further into new manufacturing and consumer applications and concurrently maintain and enhance the existing Geomagic and Rapidform product lines.”

“We have worked with 3D Systems for many years to accelerate adoption of 3D content-to-print solutions and believe that now is the right time to combine our efforts to further democratize access to design and 3D printing,” said Ping Fu, Founder and CEO of Geomagic. “Joining 3D Systems provides us with the scale, resources and strategic platform to realize our shared vision of delivering functional, affordable and extensible 3D authoring solutions for the benefit of professional designers and engineers, as well as the exciting maker’s movement.”

Strategic and Financial Benefits

  • Growing reseller channel accelerates revenue growth from combined portfolio and presence
  • Profitable razor and blades business with accretive software gross profit margins enhances non-GAAP earnings power
  • Highly complementary portfolio delivers powerful and affordable design and manufacturing solutions and greater customer value
  • Expected to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings in the first full year following completion of transaction.


Bend Not Break – A New Book by Geomagic CEO, Ping Fu

Geomagic is proud to announce that our CEO and co-founder, Ping Fu, is releasing her book today. “ Bend Not Break” (Penguin) is a story of personal resilience and of business success by someone who is almost an accidental entrepreneur. A heartbreaking history living through Mao’s cultural revolution, her family is forcibly split up, and an 8 year old Ping is raising and protecting her 4 year old sister. Exiled from China in her early twenties, with no money and little English, Ping manages to make it through with waitressing jobs and university in the U.S., a focus on computer science education and unexpected encounters with innovators and entrepreneurs. From those combined experiences, Ping created an innovative and industry leading 3D software company, Geomagic, which delivers 3D imaging and design technologies to the world.

New York Post, Dec 30 2012

“Today, Ping Fu is the CEO of tech firm Geomagic, which she founded with her husband. She’s come a long way. At 8, her family in Shanghai was torn apart by the Cultural Revolution — she and her younger sister sent to a re-education camp in another city. Ping was forced to eat what she calls “bitter meals” of dirt, animal dung and tree bark. She was raped at 10, a political prisoner at 25. Finally deported to America, she arrived her with just $80 and knowing almost no English. Her success at the American Dream is a real triumph.”

Booklist – Starred Review

Fu speaks to the need for humanity to practice love in business relations in order to avoid inflicting pain on future generations. This well-written tale of courage, compassion, and undaunted curiosity reveals the life of a genuine hero who remains committed to making the world a better place.”

Kirkus Reviews – Starred Review

“The book reflects the tone of its author: clear, honest and unassuming.”

Publishers Weekly – Starred Review

Ping’s eloquent prose and remarkable attitude shine through in every word—and her compelling story will remind more than one reader to be thankful for what they have.”

Ping and her book will be featured soon on Bloomberg news, BBC world News and more across the coming weeks. To order a copy please go to:


Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

What a month it’s been for Geomagic and its Founder and CEO, Ping Fu:

  • Geomagic will be acquired by 3D Systems
  • Bend Not Break by Ping Fu was published
  • Geomagic Spark 3D Scan-to-CAD software was introduced

The acquisition of Geomagic by 3D Systems continues to consolidate the 3D scanning software sector by yet another player. The acquisition of Geomagic comes on the heels of a competitor. Just three months ago, 3D Systems acquired Rapidform, another global provider of 3D scan-to-CAD and inspection software tools.

With the additions of Rapidform and now Geomagic, 3D Systems has secured a cornerstone of its self-proclaimed fifth growth initiative: “To create a seamless, digital scan, design and print platform for the benefit of its customers. This important growth initiative is consistent with the company’s overall drive to democratize and deliver integrated 3D content-to-print solutions. Rapidform broadens 3D Systems’ range of capabilities with complementary products and technology.”

What all this means is that 3D Systems now has a greater ability to capture, process, and print 3D objects. That’s a pretty wide spectrum of capabilities, but one that is tightly tied together from both the software and hardware sides.

Like seemingly all sectors of engineering software, and increasingly hardware, market consolidation marches on. How this will impact current and future customers remains to be seen. However, as I’ve said in the past, don’t expect this to be the end of 3D Systems’ acquisition strategy.

With the acquisition, Ping Fu’s title and functions changes from CEO to Chief Strategy Officer, but I’m pretty confident that she’ll continue to have tremendous influence on Geomagic’s direction and purpose in the 3D Systems scheme.

I’ve read excerpts of the book, Bend Not Break, and have found it to be both interesting and inspiring. Ping Fu came to the U.S from China in 1983 on a student visa with no virtually money or English language skills. She went on to earn BS and MS degrees in computer science, as well as co-found Geomagic in 1997. At the time she wanted to develop software that could take 3D scanner data, process it, and output it on 3D printers. Her ultimate goal was to do for 3D printing what Adobe did for desktop printing/publishing.

Overall, it’s a fascinating story of the birth of an industry, including all of its triumphs, innovations, as well as roadblocks. Through it all, though, she has proven to be a very smart technology proponent, but also very grounded with unshakeable integrity. Although I’ve only read portions of the book, I am anxious to read it in its entirety and highly recommend it, even if you’re not necessarily a “tech-oriented” reader.

Lastly, being introduced later this month, Geomagic Spark enters a competitive market, but as unique 3D software that combines a live 3D scanning interface, 3D point and mesh editing capabilities, modeling design, assembly modeling, and 2D drawing creation in one comprehensive application. While traditional CAD packages have modeling capabilities, (with few exceptions) they lack the tools to process 3D scan data into usable 3D for modeling. Geomagic Spark, however, incorporates 3D scan data functionality, integrating Geomagic’s scanning technology with direct modeling capabilities, using the SpaceClaim platform. With this combination, you can create accurate, manufacturable solid model parts and assemblies using combined scan and CAD data in the same application. Partial scan data also can be used for creating models.

I’ve met with Ping Fu a few times over the years and have always found her to be intelligent, engaging, and honest. We wish her and Geomagic the best in future endeavors going forward.


Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at or 719.221.1867.

This Week

Lead Stories

3D Systems to Acquire Geomagic

Bend Not Break – A New Book by Geomagic CEO, Ping Fu

Product and Company News

Autodesk Acquires PI-VR

Geometric acquires 3Cap Technologies GmbH

Vero Software Acquires Sescoi International

Hexagon Acquires New River Kinematics, Leading Portable Metrology Software Provider

Edgecam Files Managed in Autodesk Vault

Hankook Delcam wins Award for Excellence in Sustainability Management

Agni Link ERP-CAD Data Integration System For SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor Now Compatible with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

i GET IT New Training Section Offers Users More Direct Approach, Simpler Interface for Learning

FIRST ULTIMATE ASCENTSM 2013 Robotics Game Revealed

CIMdata & Hiller Associates Announce New Survey on Product Cost Management

Organovo Partners With Autodesk Research to Develop 3D Bioprinting Software

GstarCAD MC PRO Tackled the Key Problem of Mobile CAD Apps

CIMdata Announces Schedule for the 2013 PLM Certificate Program

New Release of Aras Requirements Management Solution Embedded in PLM for Systems Engineering

VCollab and intrinSIM announce new partnership with MSC Software CorporationDassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform Adopted by Olympus Technologies Singapore to Accelerate Medical Device Time to Market

CDS Case Study on Fenner Drives Success with Online CAD Downloads – Generating 600-900 Qualified Leads per Month

VideoNews – ZWCAD+ 2012 SP1 Released With New Features and Enhanced Performance

ZWCAD+ 2012 SP1 Released – Video Interview with Daniel Huang, ZWCAD+ Product Manager

Bombardier Aerospace Relies on Apriso for Manufacturing Operations Management

Water Pik Improves Its Flow with SofTech’s ProductCenter PLM

Eurocopter Expands Use of PTC Technology Solutions to Accelerate Service Strategy

New Meshing Algorithm, Faster I/O in Latest Release of Pointwise Meshing Software

Delcam Reports Record Orders in December

PTC’s Continued Support for FIRST Connects Students with Manufacturers to Practice Every Day Product Development Processes

FoFdation project partners, Artis and Delcam, start machining trials

OPEN MIND pleased with EuroMold 2012 – Milling strategies in application

Hexagon Metrology Enhances PC-DMIS Inspection Software

Pointwise Opens Meshy Award Contest for Best Mesh

ZWCAD Touch: Fast Edit, Remark DWG Files with Easy Cloud Sync

Cimatron Declares Cash Distribution to Shareholders

Richard Childress Racing Puts CNC Machining On Fast Track With NC Simulation

SYSPRO ERP Selected by Renowned Manufacturer/Distributor of Promotional Products

IMAGINiT Technologies Earns Autodesk MEP Systems Engineering Specialization

Cimatron Announces TASE Delisting Date; Shares to Continue Listing and Trading on the NASDAQ Capital Market

SofTech Announces Q2 Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Results

Celeritive Technologies Signs VoluMill License Agreement with Missler Software for TopSolid Integration

3D-PDF reading and writing with Kisters 3DViewStation V11.4

Turkish engineers evaluate WorkNC CAD/CAM for automotive applications (SESCOI)

Adopting VISI and Edgecam is “Massive” As College Moves Into New Era

Related MCAD News

ADCOLE Diesel Cam Tester Handles Parts up to 105″ Long

Plex Systems Raises Strategic Investment from Accel Partners to Continue Transitioning Manufacturing Industry to the Cloud

3Shape releases its new Dental System 2013

Montebello Packaging Speeds Production With Infor

Corporate Moves, Views, and News

Bend Not Break – A New Book by Geomagic CEO, Ping Fu

Stratasys Founder and Chairman Inducted into Industryweek’s Manufacturing Hall Of Fame

Roland DGA Announces Major Changes to its Executive Management Team

Multi-Year Collaboration Agreement between Astrium and ESI Group

WorkNC CAD/CAM vendor, Sescoi, expands its Indian office

Novedge Expands its Partnership with MecSoft Corporation

GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Build R&D Facility in New York to Accelerate Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Global Customers

Industry Events

A New Era Begins – MSC Software 2013 Users Conference

Supersonic Car Steering Wheel Design Challenge

Delcam to show 2013 releases of CAM products at Houstex 2013

Hundreds of Manufacturing Leaders to Gather for Third Edition of The MFG Meeting (AMT)

Geometric to launch CAMWorks 2013 at SolidWorks World 2013

FIRST ULTIMATE ASCENTSM 2013 Robotics Game Revealed

NASA Kicks Off 2013 FIRST Robotics Season With Live Broadcast

The Chrysler Foundation Powers Up 2013 FIRST Robotics Season

Automotive Leaders to be Honored at MAIN Event Co-Sponsored by Dassault Systèmes

Mcor to introduce 3D printer with industry’s most powerful color capability at SolidWorks World 2013

OPEN MIND exhibits at SolidWorks World 2013 – CAM fully integrated with the CAD environment

Aras Announces Live Webcast on Next Generation Requirements Management for Systems Engineering

OPEN MIND exhibits at SolidWorks World 2013 – To show CAM fully integrated with CAD environment

Delcam for SolidWorks World 2013 – Fully Integrated CAM for SolidWorks

Tata Technologies PLM Products Team to Attend Autodesk Americas Marketing Boot Camp 2013 in New Orleans

SECO to sponsor Delcam’s international student CAM competition

The Curiosity Rover and its Journey to Mars: Doug McCuistion, Mars Exploration Program Director (ret.), to speak at PI 2013

Stratasys to Present at the Annual Needham & Company Growth Stock Conference

Dassault Systèmes Promotes Innovation as Platinum Sponsor of EyesOn Design at North American International Auto Show

Corporate Newsletters

GoEngineer SolidWorks Newsletter – December 2012

News.Delcam – January 2013

Javelin Technologies Design Newsletter: January 2013

FEA Information Journal – December 2012

2012 — The MCAD Year in Review

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Well, another year is just about over, and what a year it’s been for the MCAD industry. Let’s qualify that statement, though. Busy, yes. Innovative and disruptive? With relatively few exceptions, not so much.

Granted, a lot went on, but the magnitude of the events just seemed smaller this year than in recent years past.

With that said, let’s take a brief look at some of the major things that did transpire in 2012:

Technology Advancements

There were a number of incremental technological advances, but the two that really caught our eye this year were:

Direct modeling that continues to attract proponents from a list of MCAD vendors that continues to grow every year, and 2012 was no exception.

Reverse engineering and 3D modeling contained in one package — Geomagic Spark — an innovative scan-to-cad platform that incorporates SpaceClaim as its CAD engine.


Autodesk acquired HSMWorks (CAM software),Inforbix (PLM software). To complement its “virtual prototyping” initiative, Autodesk also acquired Qontext and its enterprise social collaboration software technology.

3D Systems continued its buying binge that began a couple years ago by acquiring Z Corp., Vidar, Rapidform, Viztu Technologies, FreshFiber, and a couple major service providers.

PTC acquired Servigistics for its service lifecycle management (SLM) software that could change how traditional PLM is viewed.

New Computing Platforms

Although not really new, tablets continued to make their way into the tool palette for designers and engineers. They are still used mostly for viewing and markup, but some interesting sketching, conceptual design, and rudimentary simulation showed up on tables in 2012. The future of tablet engineering software applications is tied closely to the next category, the cloud.

The Cloud

It wasn’t all that long ago that an MCAD executive referred to the cloud as “mere vapor,” but that is rapidly changing as real engineering applications become available.

Autodesk 360 is a cloud computing platform suite of services that include PLM, simulation, rendering, and conceptual design. Will these cloud-based services ultimately replace traditional applications that reside on users’ computers? That remains to be seen, although Autodesk has not made a definitive statement one way or the other.

Kenesto is a cloud-based service for social business and process collaboration. A socially oriented PLM, if you will that is an interesting approach. With Michael Payne and Steve Bodnar on board, this company and technology could be poised to go places.

3D Printing

This segment of the larger rapid prototyping/additive manufacturing industry really took off, thanks largely to MakerBot’s Replicator 2 machine. 3D printers distinguish themselves by being lower in cost (less than $5,000), but also (for the most part) producing less than stellar parts.

A New Kid on the Block?

Several of the founders and early employees of SolidWorks, including Jon Hirschtick, Dave Corcoran, Scott Harris, and John McEleney are back together again. They have formed a company with a venture known as Belmont Technology. What they are up to remains to be seen, but there is strong speculation that they are developing an innovative approach to 3D design (no surprise there). Absolutely no details have been disclosed to date, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a cloud-based platform. This will be one to watch as an encore from some very smart guys.

The Future

That’s anybody’s guess, but look for huge news from DS SolidWorks, starting with the product announcement(s) it is likely to make at its annual user conference in late January. Expect to see more of a presence of Solid Edge in the MCAD market. Autodesk should make its intentions more clearly known on its future software offerings — whether they will be on-premise, cloud-based, or a combination of the two. 3D printing will continue to proliferate because of prices that continue to plummet and quality that incrementally improves. Interoperability will continue to be a major challenge for mixed CAD environments. Look for more native engineering software available on the Mac platform.

Whatever happens in 2013, the technical/engineering software industry will continue to be a fascinating and vital place to be, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Geomagic Spark: 3D Scan-to-CAD

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

We have seen a lot of interesting things happen in the MCAD industry this year – everything from acquisitions to new products. One of the things that I’ll remember this year for is an especially innovative product that was announced this month and will be introduced in January – Geomagic Spark.

Geomagic Spark enters a competitive market, but as unique 3D software that combines a live 3D scanning interface, 3D point and mesh editing capabilities, modeling design, assembly modeling, and 2D drawing creation in one comprehensive application. While traditional CAD packages have modeling capabilities, (with few exceptions) they lack the tools to process 3D scan data into usable 3D for modeling. Geomagic Spark, however, incorporates 3D scan data functionality, integrating Geomagic’s scanning technology with direct modeling capabilities, using the SpaceClaim platform. With this combination, you can create accurate, manufacturable solid model parts and assemblies using combined scan and CAD data in the same application. Partial scan data also can be used for creating models.

Geomagic Spark is well-suited for engineers and manufacturers that design in 3D from existing objects or those that need to finish or modify scanned parts.

Geomagic Spark can handle scan and mesh data from both parts and assemblies

Geomagic Spark is the result of a collaborative effort between Geomagic and SpaceClaim, a company known for its 3D direct modeling capabilities. The companies’ partnership began when Geomagic introduced its initial SpaceClaim integration in the 2012 release of Geomagic Studio. Based on user feedback, both realized that a fully integrated application was viable and could change the landscape of designing directly from 3D scans. This resulted in the creation of Geomagic Spark.

“Geomagic Spark, in a single application, introduces a whole new paradigm for the capture/modify/make process. It can be used by CAD professionals but, more importantly, by the millions of manufacturing engineers who are not CAD experts,” said Tom Kurke, president and COO, Geomagic. “The high level of support, technical expertise and the quality API from SpaceClaim allowed Geomagic Spark to come to market quickly.”

Geomagic Spark’s integrated package includes point cloud, mesh, and CAD modeling in the same user interface. You can scan directly into Geomagic Spark or load an existing point cloud or polygon mesh. From there you can choose from the range of automated tools used to convert and edit data into a polygon mesh: sampling, noise reduction, wrap, mesh simplification, etc. Geomagic Spark’s solid modeling tools simplify the process of creating solid geometry from the mesh, with curve, surface, and solid extraction. Once a solid model is created, you can compare the solid model to the mesh upon which it is based, identifying areas of deviation. 2D drawings with annotations and dimensions are available and can be created interactively with the 3D data. This combination of 3D data processing and CAD functionality promotes process efficiency in reverse engineering, production-focused manufacturing, prototyping, concept modeling and creation, documentation, and production.

Geomagic Spark makes scanning and designing in 3D a more straightforward process. With SpaceClaim’s direct modeling you can interact with models without the complexities and limitations of a multi-level feature tree.

Geomagic Spark follows the typical Geomagic workflow logic, starting with Spark and transitioning over to SpaceClaim in a seamless process under the same UI.

Some of the features in Geomagic Spark include:

  • Direct scanning into Geomagic Spark using hardware plug-ins for Faro, Hexagon and Creaform (others to be announced)
  • Point cloud editing – Deletion, sampling, noise reduction, etc.
  • Native CAD format import via add-ins from SpaceClaim
  • Mesh editing – Deletion, hole filling, trim and repair
  • Intelligent selection tools
  • Accurate extraction of surfaces, solids and sketches from the mesh
  • Push/pull geometry modification tools
  • Sketching and solid modeling capability
  • Mesh-to-solid deviation analysis
  • 2D drawing creation
  • 3D PDF generation
  • Assembly creation, manipulation and editing
  • Compatible with a powerful collection of third-party add-ins for SpaceClaim (e.g., photorealistic visualization, PDM, analysis and CAM)
  • Interoperable with a range of CAD and PLM tools in addition to neutral file formats (IGES, STEP, OBJ, ACIS, and PDF)

According to Evan Fader, Geomagic regional manager, Geomagic Spark was not created to replace other Geomagic products, such as Qualify and Studio, but rather, to complement them. In a nutshell, Spark is intended to quickly reverse engineer and model parts and assemblies. Beyond availability as a standalone product, Geomagic Spark also will be available as part of Geomagic’s new Enterprise Bundle, which will also include Geomagic Studio and Geomagic Qualify.

When it hits the market early next year on January 28, 2013, the price for Geomagic Spark will be $9,900, plus $1,800 maintenance.

I’m on the list for a software trial when Geomagic Spark is released next month. Based just on a brief Web demo, this is one I’m looking forward to because it could really be a game changer for directly converting scanned data into 3D models.


InspectionXpert For SolidWorks 2013 First Article Inspection

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

With SolidWorks 2013 now available, the roll out of partner products is just beginning. One of the first we’ll cover is InspectionXpert for SolidWorks 2013, an add-in for SolidWorks 2013.

InspectionXpert for SolidWorks is first article and in-process inspection software that automatically creates bubbled print and inspection reports for quality control inspection purposes. This automation minimizes time-consuming, error-prone processes for (according to the company) a time savings of more than 90%.

Integration into SolidWorks ensures direct access to the necessary dimensions, tolerances, units, and custom properties of SolidWorks 3D models and 2D drawings, so ballooned drawings and inspection reports can be created quickly.

InspectionXpert’s Characteristic Tree displays the dimensions, geometric tolerances, notes, hole callouts, weld and surface finish symbols extracted directly from SolidWorks drawings. Filtering capabilities enable specification of which types of drawing annotations to include in an inspection form. This alone can be a big time saver.

Inspection characteristic data is saved in a SolidWorks file for reuse or subsequent updates. InspectonXpert revision changes require just a refresh of an inspection project with InspectionXpert when a revision change is made. Accept the changes to re-balloon a drawing or model, as well as export the updates to a new inspection report form.  Another time saver.

InspectionXpert integrates with quality systems including a direct publish to Net-Inspect and synchronization with CEBOS MQ-1.  Because InspectionXpert exports to Excel/CSV inspection data can be imported into almost many database or other software programs, including CMM, ERP, MRP, etc.

I’ve reviewed InspectioXpert in the past and have found it to be one of the easiest to use and comprehensive first article inspection programs available.

The price for InspectionXpert for Solidworks 2013 is $1,395 for the license and $279 for first year maintenance — a total of $1,674.

For more information on InspectionXpert for SolidWorks:
Editor’s Note: Because a lot of innovation is still taking place with partner products of all types, we’ll be taking a quick look at several of them over the coming weeks and months as they are introduced as complements for engineering software applications from Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, PTC, Siemens, and others.

Kenesto: 30 day trial
SolidCAM: SolidCAM Dec 2017 Campaign Save 28 percent

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