Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
May 11th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
As exciting as the 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) space has been the past several, especially the last couple, its unbridled enthusiasm and expectations couldn’t be expected to go on forever, and they’re not. Stratasys reported less than anticipated financials for Q1 2015.
All was not doom and gloom for Stratasys, however, as the financials also include the following:
Stratasys Presents a 3D Printed Aircraft Interior at EuroMold 2014
Fred Fischer, Director of PolyJet and FDM Applications at Stratasys, presents an aircraft interior 3D printed using a unique combination additive manufacturing technologies. The presentation was filmed at Stratasys’ aerospace-themed booth at EuroMold 2014 in Frankfurt.
May 7th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 in Boston this week, IoT is a big part of the future, not only for PTC, but for all of us.
Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over last might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (>2,300 attendees). Numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.
Because of the amount of material covered in just a couple of days, and the major implications surrounding IoT and PTC, I’ll be writing about some the major (and some minor) technology and business announcements, as well as how this all fits together and might shape PTC’s strategy going forward, including:
LiveWorx 2015 Highlight Reel
May 4th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
We’re in Boston’s Back Bay this week for PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 conference on the Internet of Things (IoT).
This event is a new one for us and one that largely foretells the future direction of PTC.
If you’re here, let’s talk. This is all brand new to me, and I’m on an educational mission. I’d like to hear your opinions on what’s good, what’s bad, and what might potentially be scary, as well as game-changing in this new foray for PTC.
Contact me at jeff@ibsystems or 719.221.1867.
April 30th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
I’ve been around design and engineering for many years. Well, you might say that I’ve been “around the block.” I can accept that, but I also have realized for a long time, that to remain relevant, I have had to continuously re-educate myself through various channels to reinvent myself.
Just last autumn I took a computational physics course (Optics) at the University of Colorado Denver as background for a book I am in the process of writing on 3D scanning. To say it was a challenge is an understatement, and I had to dust off my old college math books, but I got a lot out of it and look forward to future college-level courses. Disclosure: I audited the course and did not receive a grade, but felt I kept up with the class, and missed only two classes during the 16 week semester.
April 23rd, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
We just left Scottsdale, Arizona after a great weekend at the annual Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) event.
Over the years I’ve attended probably 8-10 of these unique events, and they have all been a bit different, but I have always come away with new insights and perspectives on engineering software.
The keynotes are always thought provoking and the roundtable discussions and general conversations are stimulating, because they often provide food for thought and questions for further investigation rather than just simple answers.
This year’s theme was “Taking a Step Back To See the Big Picture.” As engineers and software professionals we are good at focusing on the thing at hand – the design challenge; the need for a new tool; our competitive situation. However, rarely do we consider the bigger world in which these issues reside.This year, COFES took a giant step backwards for broadening our view. In other words, to think about thinking about the bigger picture. The nature of our work requires that we spend the majority of our time getting things done, tightly focused on executing our tasks and plans. And while we do that, we are continuously faced with choices, big and small, along the way. Too often, we make decisions in the narrow context of what we have in front of us, unless some outside force pushes a broader context into our consciousness.
April 16th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
What most of us take for granted when using CAD/CAM/CAE technologies had to come from somewhere, correct? By that I mean the mathematics that underlie and drive all CAx applications. From the basic math numerical models are derived as the output of systems. The output of these systems are geometric shape descriptions of modeled objects. As these systems were being developed a new branch of mathematics, known as geometric modeling, was created – and that’s what the book, Geometric Modeling, is all about.
Fundamentally, geometric modeling studies the methods used to construct and control numerical geometric models of real and imaginary objects.
Geometric modeling is entirely dependent of several areas of mathematics, but primarily differential geometry (that employs differential and integral calculus and linear algebra for developing planes, curves, and surfaces in 3D Euclidean space) and numerical methods (to find numerical approximations – the more precise the approximation, the better the model).
How basic math becomes numerical modeling that becomes geometric modeling is the subject of a new book, Geometric Modeling, by Dr. Nikolay Golovanov. The book is based on the author’s experience gained throughout his career, and especially during the development of the ASCON Group’s C3D geometric kernel as a principal architect.
In a nutshell, the book outlines the methods of geometric modeling, including methods for constructing curves, surfaces, and solids. It describes the algorithms and data structures behind geometric objects. It also presents the principles of the interconnections between the elements of geometric models. Finally, the book examines some of the applications of geometric models, such as determining model physical characteristics, rendering, simulation, etc.
April 9th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
We talk with dozens of CAx vendors monthly and on an ongoing basis so we can (hope to) stay current with new features and capabilities. We have also noted for several years the ongoing consolidation of CAx vendors. When I blogged specifically a couple months ago about the CAM segment entitled, “CAM Consolidation 2015: The Circle Continues To Get Smaller,” only one vendor challenged me that it was always independent and would remain so – SolidCAM. That statement piqued my interest, so I thought I better follow up to see how they would substantiate their insistence.
The following video demonstrates a 3D car model machined in C45 steel roughed with iMachining 3D technology, which SolidCAM claims saves >70% of machining time. The car model is finished using SolidCAM 5-Axis simultaneous – all integrated into SolidWorks.
SolidCAM iMachining & Simultaneous 5X-Milling of a Car Model
Shortly after SolidWorks World, I spoke with SolidCAM’s founder and CEO, Emil Somekh, in a lively and candid conversation that set a number of things straight specifically about SolidCAM, as well as the CAM industry in general.
April 2nd, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
If it’s April, it’s time for COFES (Congress On the Future of Engineering Software). This annual informal event, now in its 16th year, is the engineering software industry’s only think tank/industry summit event that brings executives from design, engineering, architectural, development, and technology companies together to understand the role engineering technology will play in the future survival and success of business customers who also attend.
COFES is well-known for hosting leading keynote visionaries that bring a new perspective to the future of the industry.
The central theme for COFES 2015 is that as engineers and software professionals we are good at focusing on the thing at hand – the design challenge; the need for a new tool; our competitive situation. However, rarely do we consider the bigger world in which these issues reside.
This year, COFES takes a giant step backwards for broadening our view. In other words, to think about thinking about the bigger picture. The nature of our work requires that we spend the majority of our time getting things done, tightly focused on executing our tasks and plans. And while we do that, we are continuously faced with choices, big and small, along the way. Too often, we make decisions in the narrow context of what we have in front of us, unless some outside force pushes a broader context into our consciousness.
A quick blast from the COFES past — In 2008 Gartner declared Augmented Reality (AR) one of the Top Ten Disruptive Technologies for the next few years. While AR has arrived on mobile devices and digital cameras, it remains imprecise and far from disruptive. Are there changes in the wind? Although the video below is a couple of years old, during his COFES 2011 presentation Joseph Juhnke reviews the strengths and weaknesses of various types of Augmented Reality (hardware and software) technologies.
Practical applications for augmented reality – Joseph Juhnke – COFES 2011 Keynote Presentation
March 26th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
As much as I have tried to resist the temptation to gush all over myself, I’ve had a tough time restraining my enthusiasm for the myriad cloud-based computing and storage options that have come online in the recent past and their potential. OK, it’s time for a reality check – facts, fallacies, myths, and risks.
Keep in mind, though, that Onshape is online only and always requires a Web connection to be functional. With connectivity so universally ubiquitous, this shouldn’t pose a problem for a majority of prospective users. At this time, the company has no plans for making Onshape available offfline, so if this is an issue or concern, then Onshape may not be a design tool for you. However, that said, I’d encourage you to check out Onshape.
Also, I pointed out that as interesting Onshape is, it is by no means the first or only cloud-based technical/design/engineering software offering. As a matter of fact, it turns out there are quite a few, including:
Admittedly, this is not an exhaustive list, and is not meant to be. I just wanted to provide some of the cloud-based tools currently available. I also realize that the above have different features and capabilities, so it’s not an “apples to apples” comparison.
While the following video is a few years old, and some of the technologies discussed have been superseded or retired, it provides a good overview for novices of what cloud computing is about.
Introduction to Cloud Computing
March 19th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
Although it was first introduced in May 2014, we finally got around to reviewing the Lenovo ThinkStation P300. Lenovo positions this system as “entry level,” but the build quality and performance proved to be anything but.
Ever since they first came on to the market several years ago, I’ve always been a fan of a small form factor (SFF) desktop workstation, and the P300 fits nicely in this category. Its metal enclosure with plastic front bezel measures 13.25”H x 14.5”D x 4’W. Like what many of its competitors are offering, entry into the chassis requires not tools to remove a side panel with access to the internals. The interior has a nice layout and PCI and memory slots are easy to access, even with fat fingers. That said, though, there is no wasted space and the airflow is efficient with air being drawn through the front grille.
Lenovo ThinkStation P Series Product Tour