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 »
November 30th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
One of the most interesting, but mysterious and most misunderstood technologies in the digital realm are blockchain and bitcoin. Blockchain, specifically, is also the technology with the greatest potential to secure data and transactions that demand trust. Although they are related, separately and together they require quite a bit of space to adequately explain, so this time around, I’ll focus on a few aspects of blockchain and their possible implications for manufacturing.
Blockchain combines the openness of the Internet (unless/until Net Neutrality goes away) with the security of cryptography to give companies a faster way to verify vital information and establish trust without the need for third parties and other intermediaries. It was initially developed more than a decade ago to provide the technical underpinnings for Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency with which it is sometimes mistaken. As Pat Bakey, president of SAP Industries, noted, “Early horror stories about bitcoin, the most famous digital currency to use blockchain, prompted its mainstream dismissal as a dubious tool of the dark web.”
At its core however, blockchain is simply an open and secure method of recording transactions, just like a traditional ledger. Because blockchains establish trust, they provide a simple, paperless way to establish and track ownership of money, information, and objects by individuals, companies, and other organizations.
Blockchain: What’s In It For Manufacturers?
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value,” wrote Don and Alex Tapscott in their book, Blockchain Revolution.
November 23rd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
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 2018. The calendar below reflects what we regard as some of the most important topics today in design and manufacturing, as well as feedback from our readers and other supporters requesting content.
The main theme for each month will be covered in an extended article or series of articles so that the topic can be covered more comprehensively.
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, and podcasts.
If you have any thoughts of topics you would like to see covered in 2018, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719.221.1867.
We look forward to an exciting 2018 and 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 2018 is going to be a great year!
2018 MCADCafe Editorial Calendar of Monthly Topics
January 2018 – Blockchain in Manufacturing
February 2018 — Cloud Computing with MCAD Applications
Show Coverage — SolidWorks World 2018
November 16th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Although I’m not much of a fan for Las Vegas per se, I do enjoy attending Autodesk’s annual spectacle that attracts at least 10,000 attendees to Sin City — Autodesk University.
This year’s event was markedly different than ones in the recent past. Different because:
I’ll briefly discuss each of these bulleted items, but will cover each of them in more detail in coming weeks
Words From The New CEO
Having been the President and CEO of Autodesk since June, Andrew Anagnost took the stage the first day of AU in his relatively new role to talk about the theme of this year’s AU, which was designing more things, designing better things, and accomplishing this with less — materials, staff, resources, and time.
Andrew Anagnost, AU 2017 Keynote
Anagnost said the panacea for making this happen is automation that will actually increase jobs and productivity. We shouldn’t be so concerned about if automation take our jobs as we should be of the opportunities of where automation will take us. With so much happening so quickly on the automation and technology fronts, the problem is not so much a scarcity of jobs as it is a scarcity of skills to benefit from the opportunities.
An interesting numerical comparison he made that back in the day there were approximately 300,000 drafters in design, manufacturing, and architecture. Compare that to today’s approximately 10,000,000 design software users and you appreciate how things have changed by the sheer number of people involved on the creative design side.
This week Autodesk also announced that it has formed a new partnership with Village Capital to fund the creation of their workforce development and transition initiative, focused on entrepreneurship, job training, and upskilling in a world of automation. The company is also teaming up with LinkedIn Learning to offer free access to more than 40 courses in multiple languages, relevant to the architecture, infrastructure, construction, and manufacturing industries.
Technology can accelerate solutions to our most pressing problems, such as anticipated global population growth of 30 percent by 2050, but only if people are prepared work with machines in new ways. These are the latest moves in Autodesk’s efforts to prepare the workforce to thrive in a future that will require people to make and build more, do it better, and with less negative impact on the world.
November 9th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Like many small- and medium-size businesses contemplating a PDM system, L&H Design Werks wondered what PDM could do for them. The Coopersville, Michigan-based company designs customized production machines, but also designs fixturing, and robotic cells, with experience in welding, metal forming, automotive glass and high-speed material handling applications. L&H has also done a considerable amount of conceptual design. All these capabilities demand that design and associated data be managed with a secure PDM system that can be accessed by those needing the data. It was secure data management and access that prompted L&H to make the decision to implement a PDM system in the first place.
Since 2005, L&H Design Werks has been using SOLIDWORKS as its primary design tool, largely because it perceived its industry moving toward it, and they saw SOLIDWORKS as being a more flexible a tool than some of the other CAD packages they had evaluated.
After the CAD tool was in place, what prompted L&H Design Werks to consider PDM in the first place? According to Brian Land, CEO of L&H Design Werks, “We wanted to be able to have more than one person work on a project/design at a time. We started with SOLIDWORKS PDM Workgroup because it was relatively inexpensive and fairly straightforward to use. We started using it right away with our first purchase of SOLIDWORKS.”
The Move to Kenesto PDM
While L&H was satisfied with SOLIDWORKS PDM Workgroup for a while, it started to look for alternatives because SOLIDWORKS decided to no longer offer Workgroup PDM and wanted the company to move to SOLIDWORKS PDM Enterprise. “Because we are not very large, we like to keep things basic. I felt Enterprise had more bells and whistles than we needed. We like the keep it simple, stupid (KISS) approach,” said Land.
“Also, one of our customers wanted to be able to easily access our CAD files. That way if they made changes on the floor it was immediately updated, so that we saw the changes as soon as they did. I also knew that cloud-based storage seemed to make the most sense moving forward for safety in knowing it’s always backed up. That’s when we seriously looked at Kenesto as an alternative and replacement, and have been using it for the past several months. We have been putting some of our older projects up to Kenesto and put all new projects there.”
Land said, overall, his experience with Kenesto has exceeded his expectations. “The people I have dealt with at Kenesto are all excellent, going above and beyond to help us out. We had some problems in the beginning that were a result of some of our equipment and setup, and they helped us to get in the right direction and it’s made a big difference. There have been some glitches from time to time, but most of those problematic issues are related to SOLIDWORKS, and not Kenesto.”
November 2nd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
It seems that everybody wants in on the action in the various “realities” game. Case in point — Theorem Solutions, a company known largely for its product data interoperability and PLM has launched a Multi-Device Visualization Experience App for Augmented (AR), Mixed (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR) devices and markets.
Traditionally, Theorem’s products and solutions have enabled companies to leverage their CAD and PLM assets in other parts of their business, primarily in data sharing with downstream processes and suppliers, and now in the emerging Augmented, Mixed, and Virtual Reality sectors.
The Visualization Experience app forms part of Theorem’s Digital Realities product family, and has been specifically developed for users to engage and interact with their Engineering and Manufacturing data. It is one of the first to offer a single solution for all three different technologies in a single application.
What are Virtual and Augmented Realities?
The Multi-Device application is a single application built from the ground up using the latest graphics gaming engine, producing stunning graphical representations of your data, which is a real game changer to the world of traditional CAD graphics and visualization.
Supported devices include:
Being Multi-Device, the application allows users to use the same data, in the same visualization application, on all the different low-cost devices.
October 19th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
This week NVIDIA unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first artificial intelligence computer designed specifically to “drive” fully autonomous vehicles.
The new system, codenamed Pegasus, brings the NVIDIA® DRIVE™ PX AI computing platform for handling Level 5 driverless vehicles (Level 5 is ”steering wheel optional.” In other words, no human intervention is required, for example, a robotic taxi). NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus can perform over 320 trillion operations per second — more than 10x the performance of its predecessor, NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2.
NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus is intended to help make a new class of vehicles possible that can operate without a driver — fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels, pedals, or mirrors, and interiors that feel more like a living room or office than a vehicle. They will arrive on demand to safely take passengers to their destinations, bringing mobility to everyone, including the elderly and disabled.
One of the driving forces behind autonomous vehicles is to recapture millions of hours of lost time that could be used by “drivers” (really passengers) to work, play, eat or sleep on their daily commutes. Theoretically, countless lives could be saved by vehicles that are never fatigued, impaired, or distracted — increasing road safety, reducing congestion, and possibly freeing up land currently used for parking lots.
Of the 225 partners developing on the NVIDIA DRIVE PX platform, more than 25 are developing fully autonomous robotaxis using NVIDIA CUDA GPUs. Today, their trunks resemble small data centers, loaded with racks of computers with server-class NVIDIA GPUs running deep learning, computer vision and parallel computing algorithms. Their size, power demands and cost make them impractical for production vehicles.
NVIDIA AI Vehicle Demonstration
The computational requirements of robotaxis are enormous — perceiving the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars, localizing the vehicle within centimeter accuracy, tracking vehicles and people around the car, and planning a safe and comfortable path to the destination. All this processing must be done with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the highest level of safety. The computing demands of driverless vehicles are easily 50 to 100 times more intensive than the most advanced cars today with human drivers.
October 12th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
This week PTC announced the upcoming release of the newest version of its Vuforia platform for AR development, Vuforia 7. The company says Vuforia 7 will introduce major advancements in the ability to attach digital content to more types of objects and environments, and a new capability for delivering enhanced AR experiences on a wide range of handheld devices.
PTC claims that Vuforia is the world’s most widely used platform for AR development. With support for mobile phones, tablets and eyewear, Vuforia has powered more than 475 million installs of AR apps from the App Store and Google Play. Vuforia Engine, the core of the platform, uses a device’s camera(s) and sensors to function as a digital “eye” inside an app. It “sees” objects and surfaces where content can be placed, and enables developers to create AR experiences using existing development tools.
Vuforia 7 will introduce Model Targets, a new feature for attaching content to objects that have not been recognizable using existing computer vision technology. Model Targets recognize objects by shape, in contrast to existing methods that rely on detailed visual designs typically found on print media, product packaging and many consumer goods. With Model Targets, content can be attached to objects such as automobiles, appliances, and industrial equipment and machinery. Model Targets will enable a new class of AR content that can replace traditional user manuals and technical service instructions.
Jay Wright, President, Vuforia: State of Augmented Reality
Responding to developers, Vuforia 7 will also introduce a new capability for placing content on horizontal surfaces. Vuforia Ground Plane enables content to be placed on the ground, floor or tabletop, whether indoors or outdoors. Vuforia Ground Plane extends the functionality of the Vuforia Smart Terrain feature, first announced in 2013 to take advantage of depth sensing cameras. Vuforia Ground Plane will support a wide range of today’s devices and provides an ideal solution for developers to build visualization apps, ranging from in-home furniture shopping to design review.
October 5th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
It seems that a lot of CAD companies have taken a greater interest in digital simulation the past several years. Case in point — the recent MSC Software acquisition by Hexagon. That high level of interest was again evidenced this week as Dassault Systèmes and Exa Corporation with its simulation software for product engineering, announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement for Dassault Systèmes to acquire Exa. Under the terms of the merger agreement, this represents a value for Exa of approximately $400 million. Exa’s fiscal year ended January 31, 2017 and its revenue was $72 million.
With the addition of Exa, Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform will provide customers with a mature, diverse portfolio of combined Lattice Boltzmann fluid simulation technologies, as well as Exa’s fully industrialized solutions and approximately 350 experienced simulation professionals. Because of its solving method, Exa’s solutions can solve fluids problems faster and more accurately than traditional methods for aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, and thermal management.
September 28th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
A debate continues to rage about America’s general decline in science, engineering, and technology, largely blamed on the first steps of our youngest citizens – math and literacy education.
A couple of years ago I taught math to middle and high school students and witnessed firsthand not only the challenges, but also the opportunities for positive change brought about by a belief and commitment to teaching.
From my perspective, I learned that I taught to overcome two different but related needs – innumeracy (unfamiliarity with mathematical concepts and methods and the inability to use mathematics) as well as illiteracy (the inability to read and write). They both go hand in hand, because as important as getting the numbers right is, the ability to provide a convincing argument and communicate the numerical answer of the “why and how” is just as important.
September 21st, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Interoperability, collaboration, inspection, quality, standards, proprietary data, neutrality, competition, and innovation. Over the years there have been myriad attempts to bring these processes together, all while protecting IP. However, as we know, while the attempts to make this happen have often been valiant, too often they have fallen well short, or worse, failed altogether.
That legacy of failure is on its way to being a thing of the past with the advent of the Quality Information Framework (QIF), an ANSI standard that supports digital thread concepts in engineering applications ranging from product design through manufacturing. Based on the XML standard, it contains a Library of XML Schema ensuring both data integrity and data interoperability in Model Based Enterprise (MBE) implementations.
QIF supports design, metrology, manufacturing, and is critical to the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Because it is XML based, QIF can be relatively easily integrated with Internet applications, and unlike other existing standards, there is no real barrier standing in the way for industry adopting QIF. It also effectively supports newer technologies, including additive manufacturing and the Internet of Things (IoT).