Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 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 design … More »

Astrobotic Shoots For The Moon Economically

 
February 19th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

As a kid growing up, I was interested in many things, but was especially fascinated by the U.S. space program that went from several early failed attempts to the ultimate triumph of landing men on the moon in 1969 with Apollo 11. Humans went back a few more times during the next few years, but the past 40 or so years has been Moon and planetary exploration by satellites, robots, and rovers. The discoveries made during these explorations have been amazing, but largely cost prohibitive. That is, until now.

Last week at SolidWorks World 2015 we saw and heard an excellent presentation given during Day 2’s General Session by John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic Technology.

The focus of his company and presentation was launching, landing, and deploying payloads on the Moon at an affordable cost.

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Astrobotic Technology Inc. is a space logistics company that is positioning itself to deliver payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits and individuals. Astrobotic’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customers on a single flight, offering flexibility at a relatively low price (~$500 K/lb or $1.2 M/kg) to the lunar surface. Astrobotic is also accepting small mementos for inclusion on its first mission to the Moon – MoonMail, will send personal keepsakes to a lunar destination for between $460 and $1,660 per package.

Astrobotic is a NASA contractor, and is also an official partner with NASA on the Lunar CATALYST program. With its partner, Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic is pursuing the Google Lunar XPRIZE and is scheduled to launch the first mission in 2016, although the company will not commit to a specific date.

Go to the 1:20 mark to check out the stage presentation of John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotics at SolidWorks World 2015.

Day 2: SOLIDWORKS World 2015 General Session Highlights

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SolidWorks 2015 Best of Show Hardware and Software

 
February 12th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We just returned from SolidWorks World 2015 in Phoenix, AZ this week, and what a week it was! We recorded a several video interviews, met briefly with just about every exhibiting partner, talked with a lot of SolidWorks staffers and users, and even sat in on a couple of the technical sessions.

Among many events at SolidWorks World 2015, the new CEO of SolidWorks, Gian-Paolo Bassi, was introduced. Several times during the conference, he reassured current SolidWorks users that SolidWorks as we know it will continue and so will the investment in continual improvement. I took those words to mean that SolidWorks in its current form is here for the long haul. It will be supplemented by new products, such as SolidWorks Concept Design and SolidWorks Industrial Design, but the flagship product will stay the course for some time to come.

Based on what I saw and heard this week and have experienced the past couple of years, I think Gian-Paolo will be good for SolidWorks corporate and community going forward. Most of the people we spoke with this week at SolidWorks World had similar positive sentiments about the future with a more “technical guy” at the helm.

Starting with SolidWorks World 2015, whenever possible at future events with exhibitors, we will choose a Best of Show in both Hardware and Software categories. Every exhibitor is eligible, including the sponsoring vendors, but we also look long and hard at smaller companies as well with innovative technologies, products, and services.

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2015 MCADCafe Industry Show & Conference Coverage Schedule

 
February 4th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

After a relatively quiet travel schedule for January, we’re getting ready to hit the road for several industry trade shows and conferences throughout the remainder of the year.

We plan on attending the following events and will be exhibiting at most of them. We’ll be covering all of the events with new technology, product, and business announcements through social media as events unfold, blog posts during and following events, as well as video and audio interviews, and even a few surprises.

2/8-2/11/2015 – SolidWorks World 2015 (Phoenix, AZ) – http://www.solidworks.com/sww/

At SolidWorks World 2015 learn how you can work faster and be more efficient. Choose from over 200 technical breakout sessions led by SOLIDWORKS users and industry experts. Network with other SOLIDWORKS users, Solution Partners, resellers, and SOLIDWORKS employees. Explore the latest in 3D design and technology, offered by more than 100 exhibitors in the SOLIDWORKS Partner Pavilion.

2/25-2/26/2015 – Autodesk REAL 2015 (San Francisco, CA) – http://www.real2015.com/

REAL is the first event to explore the convergence of the professional 3D sensing, making & visualization industries. REAL is both an exclusive executive summit, REAL TALK, and a world’s fair of cutting-edge 3D demos, REAL LIVE. REAL is new and different: an immersive, hands-on, high-level gathering in a historic venue with a unique program.

4/15-4/19/2015 – COFES 2015 (Phoenix, AZ) – http://cofes.com/

COFES is the engineering software industry’s only annual think tank event which 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 your business.

5/18-5/21/2015 – SME RAPID 2015  (Long Beach, CA) – http://www.rapid3devent.com/

RAPID is known worldwide as the preeminent event for 3D printing, scanning, and additive manufacturing. The event will be celebrating its 25th anniversary as the ultimate authority in 2015, with the most comprehensive display of 3D technology, expertise, and innovation ever showcased in one place.

6/7-6/10/2015 – PTC Live Global 2015 (Nashville, TN) – http://liveglobal.ptc.com/

PTC’s largest education and networking event. Product development professionals will discover new techniques and best practices, while building technical skills and peer networks that help them develop more innovative products, more effectively. Service leaders will access the latest industry research and technology, innovative concepts and best practices for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.

8/9-8/13/2015 – SIGGRAPH 2015 (Los Angeles, CA) – http://s2015.siggraph.org/

Now in its 42nd year, the annual SIGGRAPH conference is a five-day interdisciplinary educational experience in the latest computer graphics and interactive techniques including a three-day commercial exhibition that attracts hundreds of exhibitors from around the world.

9/28-10/1/2015 – Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2015 (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) – http://cmts.ca/

CMTS is Canada’s largest manufacturing event. More than 8,000 manufacturing professionals attend CMTS to discover the latest advancements in machine tool, tooling, metal forming and fabricating, advanced manufacturing including 3D printing/additive manufacturing, automation, design engineering and plant management segments from over 700 potential suppliers.

10/20-10/22 /2015– Inside 3D Printing (Santa Clara, CA) – http://inside3dprinting.com/

Inside 3D Printing is the largest professional 3D printing and additive manufacturing event worldwide. As a conference attendee, you’ll explore the business applications of 3D printing through conference sessions led by industry experts, demonstrations of the latest 3D printers and services, and programming for designers, professionals, and makers

12/1-12/3/2015 – Autodesk University 2015 (Las Vegas, NV) – http://au.autodesk.com/las-vegas/overview/manufacturing

Discover how new technologies such as additive manufacturing, crowd sourcing, and advanced automation are changing manufacturing. Sign up for interactive workshops and classes designed to give you an edge in product design and manufacturing. Network with thought leaders and innovators in your field from all over the world.

We hope to see you at one or more of these events. In our increasingly digital virtual world, there’s still nothing that beats a real face-to-face experience!

CAM Consolidation 2015: The Circle Continues To Get Smaller

 
January 29th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

With what seems like forever, we have witnessed the ongoing and perpetual consolidation of the CAD industry as companies continue to get swallowed up by others. Some of the acquisitions have been successful and some, well, not so much. We’ve witnessed CAD companies acquiring CAD companies, simulation companies acquiring CAD companies, and other types of technical software and service companies acquiring CAD companies. With all the attention seemingly focused on the CAD side, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there also has been a significant consolidation through acquisition on the CAM side, as well the past several years. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these acquisitions as the CAM circle continues to get smaller.

Edgecam 2014 R1 Workflow
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Spotlight On MCADCafe at SOLIDWORKS World 2015

 
January 28th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

We go to and participate in several engineering software conferences every year, and one of our favorites this year (as it has been for several years) is SOLIDWORKS World 2015. This year’s event takes place February 8-11, 2015 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ.

At SOLIDWORKS World 2015, we’ll be in Booth #405 covering the show from wire to wire. We’re also recording video interviews of Dassault Systemes personnel, as well as several exhibiting partners. If your company is exhibiting at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 and you would like to arrange a video interview, contact Sanjay Gangal at 408.850.9202 or sanjay@ibsystems.com.

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Sigma Labs Teams With America Makes For Innovating 3D Metal Printing In Aviation

 
January 22nd, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

This week Sigma Labs a developer of advanced, in process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for metal-based additive manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing technologies, announced that it has been granted its first contract, worth approximately $500,000, from GE Aviation. The company was previously announced as a member of the winning team of companies and universities awarded an “America Makes” additive manufacturing (AM) research project. This project is funded by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) and covers Sigma Labs’ proprietary In-Process Quality Assurance (IPQA) software for advanced AM monitoring.

The contract will implement the Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D technology across multiple platforms, specifically those requiring high-volume, high-quality aerospace components. Over the next 18 months Sigma Labs is expected to deploy a total of three systems – one each to GE Aviation and to other team members Honeywell and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The Story Behind Sigma Labs

“We are very pleased to announce this first contract under our previously-announced award with NAMII,” said Mark Cola, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Labs. “Working with some of the best known companies in the industry, including GE Aviation and Honeywell, we will use this project to further demonstrate our PrintRite3D technology and provide for additional data collection. We believe awards such as this open up the way for business development opportunities and, at the same time, strengthen Sigma Labs’ position in the nascent yet rapidly-growing AM space.”

Sigma Labs through its wholly-owned subsidiary, B6 Sigma, develops and engineers advanced, in-process, non-destructive quality inspection systems for organizations worldwide seeking solutions for metal-based additive manufacturing or 3D printing, and other advanced manufacturing technologies.

Additive Manufacturing at GE Aviation

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CEO Change At SOLIDWORKS: “Au revoir” to Bertrand, “Ciao” to Gian Paolo

 
January 15th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

Well, we can’t say that 2015 in the MCAD industry has started off on a dull note.

With what many in the industry I’m sure consider a surprise, this morning Dassault Systèmes announced that Gian Paolo Bassi has been appointed CEO of its 3D design software brand SOLIDWORKS. Gian Paolo Bassi replaces Bertrand Sicot, who will become Vice President Sales of Dassault Systèmes’ Value Solutions sales channel.

The press release says Bertrand was “promoted,” but going from CEO to VP doesn’t exactly seem like a promotion to me. However, this isn’t the first “promotion” of this type. Sicot’s CEO predecessor, Jeff Ray, endured a somewhat similar fate about four years ago when he became Executive Vice President of Geographic Operations, at the time a newly created position within Dassault. I guess, just chalk it up to “business is business.”

Paolo Bassi will lead the development of SOLIDWORKS’ future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the cloud, as well as continued collaboration with the brand’s user community.

Going back just a year, in the following video Bertrand Sicot, then CEO of DS SOLIDWORKS, speeds down the Lake Placid sled track at 95 mph in a bobsled designed in SOLIDWORKS by Bo-Dyn Bobsled.

SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot’s Bobsled Ride for SolidWorks World 2014

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Want a Challenge? How About a Basic Physics Test?

 
January 13th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

How long has it been since you really thought about your engineering roots? By that I mean basic math and physics.

Recently, I thought about it a lot. This past fall I enrolled in a computational physics class in Optics. It was a real eye-opener, especially the math part – calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, etc. Although I enjoyed the challenge of the physics, I struggled for several weeks with the math – trying to recall principles after (quite) a few years removed from the classroom. I caught on, though, and eventually caught up with the rest of the class.

While maybe not totally applicable to hard physics, the following video illustrates some basic physics principles with regard to shatter and fracture:

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3D Printing Grows Beyond “Gimmick” Stage and Takes Center Stage at CES 2015

 
January 8th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe

As impressive as it is, last month we gave 3D printing a bit of a dressing down based on personal experience. The blog post was a reality check and a look at the technology not through rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say, though, that 3D printing is still one of the biggest innovations on the manufacturing front, if not the biggest, in recent memory.

Even with the major advances that have transpired in 3D printing, there are still a number of skeptics who view the technology as little more than a promotional stunt or gimmick.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 took place this week. It’s an annual tech festival that began in 1967 that today attracts more than 160,000 attendees checking out about 3,500 exhibitors. Over the years, some of the more significant technologies first released at CES have included:

1970 – VCR

1981 – CD player

1985 – Nintendo Entertainment System

1998 – High-definition TV

2000 – Satellite radio

2003 – Blu-Ray DVDs

2015 – 3D Printing(?)

We didn’t attend CES this year, but we have been monitoring the activities in a pavilion dedicated to innovative technologies, including 3D printing.

3D Printing Highlights at CES 2015
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Happy Holidays From MCADCafe!

 
December 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. We’d also like to thank all of our readers and supporters for continuing to make MCADCafe a vital part of the design, engineering, and manufacturing community.

With 2014 coming to a close, we’re unveiling what we’ll be covering in 2015. The calendar below reflects what we think are some of the most important topics for the MCAD community, based on our perceptions, 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 and related events throughout the year, reporting what we see and hear from vendors, partners, and attendees.

If you have any thoughts on topics you would like to see covered in 2015, feel free to contact me at jeff@ibsystems.com or 719.221.1867. We encourage and welcome all input and feedback.

We look forward to an exciting 2015 and providing you with the MCAD content you want for improving your design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

Keep MCADCafe.com your source for all things MCAD. It’s going to be a great year!

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