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 31st, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
Given enough time, virtually all companies experience ups and downs, highs and lows, and peaks and valleys. It goes without saying that these cycles are inevitable in the course of any business, and an industry that seems to have more than its share of major swings is additive manufacturing/3D printing, and a company that has had its share of these cycles of late is Stratasys.
As an example, this week, Stratasys Ltd. announced that Ilan Levin decided to resign from his positions as CEO and Director, effective June 1, 2018.
Elchanan (Elan) Jaglom, the Company’s current Chairman of the Board, will serve as CEO until a successor is appointed. Mr. Jaglom’s service in the position of Chairman and CEO simultaneously requires shareholder approval in accordance with Israeli law. Stratasys plans to call a shareholder meeting to seek that approval. Mr. Levin will provide ongoing consultancy services to the Company following his resignation, as needed.
The Company’s Board of Directors has appointed an Oversight Committee to help support the management of the Company during the interim period, until a successor is appointed. The committee is comprised of the Company’s Vice Chairman of the Board, Executive Director and former CEO, David Reis, along with additional Directors Scott Crump, previous Chairman and Founder, and Dov Ofer.
Interview With Eldad Itzhak, Director of Product Management, Stratasys At RAPID + TCT 2018
May 24th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
Carbon is an additive manufacturing system company that bridges hardware, software, and molecular science to further digital 3D manufacturing that goes far beyond prototyping. With Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology and its SpeedCell system, manufacturers can explore new business opportunities such as mass customization, on-demand inventory, and differentiated products made with unique functional materials.
Carbon’s vision is a future fabricated with light, where traceable, final-quality parts are produced at scale with Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology. CLIP is a fast photochemical process that eliminates the shortcomings of conventional 3D printing by using light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin.
Carbon entered the market just over three years ago with its innovative resin-based 3D printing technology, bringing to market its first 3D printer, the M1, a year later. The SpeedCell system with the M2 3D printer and Smart Part Washer was introduced in 2017.
Carbon M1 3D Printer Demonstration
Despite industry advances, traditional approaches to additive manufacturing force trade-offs between surface finish and mechanical properties. In contrast, DLS (Digital Light Synthesis) technology, enabled by Carbon’s proprietary CLIP process, is a unique technology that uses digital light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution, and surface finish.
Traditionally 3D printed parts have been notoriously inconsistent. Conventional 3D printed materials often exhibit variable strength and mechanical properties depending on the direction in which they were printed. DLS parts behave consistently in all directions. The resolution and gentleness of the process — where parts aren’t harshly repositioned with every slice — make it possible to exploit a range of materials that have surface finish and detail needed for end–use parts.
CLIP is a photochemical process that carefully balances light and oxygen to rapidly produce parts. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV-curable resin. As a sequence of UV images are projected, the part solidifies and the build platform rises.
The heart of the CLIP process is the “dead zone” – a thin, liquid interface of uncured resin between the window and the printing part. Light passes through the dead zone, curing the resin above it to form a solid part. Resin flows beneath the curing part as the print progresses, maintaining the “continuous liquid interface” that powers CLIP.
Once a part is printed with CLIP, it’s baked in a forced-circulation oven. Heat sets off a secondary chemical reaction that causes the materials to adapt and strengthen.
May 9th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
DP Technology and its ESPRIT CAM System deliver a wide range of machining solutions for Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing.
DP Technology Corp is a privately held company co-founded in 1982 by Daniel Frayssinet and Paul Ricard. The company gets its name from the first names of the co-founders – (D)an and (P)aul. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Camarillo, California. The rest of the company is structured by function with offices in France, Germany, India, Italy, China, and Japan.
DP Technology is the developer of the diverse ESPRIT CAM System sold and supported via the company’s regional offices and its network of resellers around the world. ESPRIT has also developed close partnerships with several leading milling, turning, and wire-EDM machine tool manufacturers, including Okuma, Mazak, DMG Mori, Citizen, STAR, Mitsubishi, GF AgiCharmilles, Doosan, and Tsugami, just to name a few.
ESPRIT literally gets its name from the French noun, esprit de corps, that translates to spirit of a body of persons or group spirit; sense of pride, honor, etc. shared by those in the same group or undertaking.
DP Technology develops CAM software for a full range of machine tool applications. ESPRIT CAM, DP Technology’s flagship product line, is a full-spectrum programming system for milling, turning, wire EDM, and multitasking machine tools. ESPRIT’s data exchange functionality reads data from most native formats, including Autodesk Inventor, CATIA, SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge, NX, ACIS, and Pro/ENGINEER (Creo). DP Technology also provides complementary add-ins for several CAD programs.
DP Technology continually reinforces its commitment to its technology and customers by dedicating approximately 25% of its annual revenues to ongoing product research and development. According to Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp., the company also has what he called “shadow R&D,” who are application engineers in the field developing post processors and simulation solutions with machine tool OEMs and dealers.
Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp. at SOLIDWORKS World 2018
When asked about the state of the CAM market, Davies said that it is largely fragmented into distinct segments – integrated CAD/CAM vendors, such as Dassault Systemes, PTC, and Siemens PLM Software; and independent CAM vendors, such as DP Technology, Mastercam, and other VAR-based dealers. He said each has its own advantages but thought that the dedicated efforts that independent companies specializing in CAM bring the most to the table, and obviously, he felt that DP Technology had the ability to serve up the most comprehensive product/technology lineup in the competitive CAM market.
DP Technology is helping manufacturers prepare for the digital transformation that’s taking place in manufacturing, with solutions including digital twinning, digital threads, machine-aware manufacturing, knowledge-based machining, and cloud-enabled databases.
To prepare manufacturers for an increasingly digital future, and to better support Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing initiatives, DP Technology is focusing on a range of solutions to drive automation in manufacturing. The ESPRIT CAM System enables manufacturers to streamline workflows, prevent silos from forming during the manufacturing process, increase tool life and machine utilization, and create greater access to practical knowledge for process improvement.
May 3rd, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
An independent consulting firm and industry source that we know quite well, Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2018, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide.
Wohlers Associates is widely recognized as the leading consulting firm and foremost authority on additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This annual publication has served as the undisputed industry-leading report on the subject for two decades. Over the 23 years of its publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing—terms that are used interchangeably by the company (and industry).
Wohlers Report 2018 is filled with insightful data and perspective to inform readers of the most critical developments in the industry. According to the new report, an estimated 1,768 metal AM systems were sold in 2017, compared to 983 systems in 2016, an increase of nearly 80%. This dramatic rise in metal AM system installations accompanies improved process monitoring and quality assurance measures in metal AM, although more work is ahead. Increasingly, global manufacturers are becoming aware of the benefits of producing metal parts by additive manufacturing.
The Dramatic Rise In Metal AM System Sales (Source: Wohlers Report 2018)
April 26th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
This past week I had the pleasure of attending RAPID + TCT 2018, a conference and exhibition that showcases 3D printing/additive manufacturing with a myriad new technologies, materials, and processes. The event, put on by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a highlight of the year for us, and again, we came away overwhelmed (in a very good way) by all that we witnessed.
Much like last year, if there were three words to describe the SME’s RAPID + TCT 3D Printing & Manufacturing Event they would be metal, metal, and metal — machines producing metal parts were everywhere. This year marked the 28th event and seemed more like a mini IMTS than an additive manufacturing show with exhibitors ranging from material suppliers to post processors to traditional machining companies. There were, of course, the industry heavy hitters, but there were also a lot of startup companies exhibiting for the first time that made things really interesting.
Post-processing also got a lot of exposure as companies providing these technologies had more of a presence and recognizing that this important aspect of AM needs to be an integral part of the production process, and not relegated to being an afterthought.
This year’s theme was “3D In 360°,” meaning the industry is starting to come full circle in terms of capabilities and potential, and this theme was clearly evident in the technical sessions and on the exhibit show floor. This year continued a distinct change of industry direction from one-off rapid prototyping of parts to production quantities in the hundreds and even thousands.
April 19th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
Creaform, a provider of accurate portable 3D measurement solutions and engineering services, has launched the CUBE-R, a new generation complete turnkey automated dimensional inspection system. The new optical 3D measuring machine capitalizes on the MetraSCAN 3D-R metrology scanner and combines efficiency and reliability of robotization in an automated industrial measuring cell.
The CUBE-R extends the 3D digitizing and inspection capabilities of the MetraSCAN 3D for dimensionally measuring parts ranging from 1 m to 3 m with metrology-grade volumetric accuracy on the shop floor. Unlike conventional systems, the CUBE-R provides both speed and volumetric accuracy, and also ensures a significant increase in productivity. The CUBE-R offers a realistic and comprehensive alternative to coordinate measuring machines (CMM) and other robot-mounted, structured-light 3D scanners.
Key features and benefits of the new system include:
CUBE-R 3D Scanning CMM
CUBE-R is an efficient comprehensive turnkey system for automated quality control applications. The CUBE-R provides manufacturing companies with the power of optical 3D measurement and industrial automation. This CMM system optimizes the production cycle and throughput resulting in better product quality.
“Quality control managers are looking for integrated solutions that enable the detection of assembly problems earlier in the manufacturing process, all while reducing waste and down time to ensure better productivity and higher product quality,” says Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie, Product Manager at Creaform. “The CUBE-R was designed with that in mind. It is the latest addition to our R-Series automated inspection solutions, which also include technology integration for clients looking for customized dimensional measurement solutions.”
Measurement and Inspection
Along with removing the need to inspect parts in a metrology lab, Creaform’s portable 3D measurement technologies enable inspections on the shop floor, without the need for a controlled environment, because all of its solutions can withstand the harshest environments and surrounding vibrations for maximizing the efficiency of the quality control process throughout an entire production run.
When it comes to performing routine testing of process samples there are 4 basic options of measurement and inspection instrumentation, Inline, On-line, At-line and Off-line(laboratory):
April 12th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
This week, Stratasys officially unveiled the spin-off of its Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process (STEP) technology and forming of a new company, Evolve Additive Solutions.
After nearly 10 years as an incubation project, the new organization will be led by a dedicated management team, exclusively focused on bringing the proprietary STEP technology to market – aimed at delivering high-volume production additive manufacturing at breakthrough speeds compared to other commercially available additive processes.
Traditional manufacturers have long sought to combine the benefits of additive manufacturing with the material, quality and economics of traditional production processes. Built on Stratasys’ pioneering development and 3D printing and additive manufacturing expertise, Evolve’s STEP technology is aimed at producing parts at a cost, quality and throughput comparable to traditional manufacturing processes. The solution is intended for high-volume production runs into the hundreds of thousands per year. As such, it is expected to compete with traditional processes, such as injection molding.
For an overview of the STEP technology, click here.
“As an independent company, Evolve will best be able to focus on the advancement of the technology, provide the entrepreneurial environment and management equity incentives suitable for early stage efforts and drive the customer relationships and partnerships to foster further development and initial market adoption,” said Stratasys CEO, Ilan Levin. “As an equity stakeholder, we look forward to collaborating with Evolve and supporting this initiative to help make it a success.”
April 5th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part article on Siemens’ simulation efforts aimed at making autonomous vehicles safer while making verification and validation processes more comprehensive and efficient.
Last week, Siemens introduced a solution for the development of autonomous driving systems as part of its Simcenter portfolio that minimizes the need for extensive physical prototyping while dramatically reducing the number of logged test miles necessary to demonstrate the safety of autonomous vehicles.
This computing and simulation platform is aimed at accelerating the validation and verification of autonomous cars.
The new solution integrates autonomous driving technologies from recent Siemens acquisitions Mentor Graphics and TASS International. TASS’ PreScan simulation environment produces highly realistic, physics-based simulated raw sensor data for an unlimited number of potential driving scenarios, traffic situations and other parameters.
The data from PreScan’s simulated LiDAR, radar and camera sensors is then fed into Mentor’s DRS360 platform, where it is fused in real time to create a high-resolution model of the vehicle’s environment and driving conditions. Customers can then leverage the DRS360 platform’s superior perception resolution and high-performance processing to test and refine proprietary algorithms for critical tasks such as object recognition, driving policy and more.
TASS International Acquisition
Last summer, Siemens acquired TASS International, a provider of simulation software, plus engineering and test services aimed primarily at the automotive industry, and focused on autonomous driving, integrated safety, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and tire modeling. The company developed a family of solutions that strengthen Siemens’ PLM software portfolio, and add to its position as a leading supplier of “systems driven product development” offerings for the automotive industry.
The video below shows testing of a complete vehicle in a controlled hardware-in-the-loop environment for validating Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems.
TASS Vehicle Hardware-in-the-Loop AEB Testing
TASS International is focused on automated driving solutions and integrated (active, passive) safety, primarily for the automotive industry. With its PreScan software, car manufacturers, suppliers and government agencies can simulate complex traffic scenarios and virtually validate automated driving and advanced driver assistance systems.
March 29th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
Although they hold much promise, this has not exactly been a stellar time lately for self-driving/autonomous vehicles. As a matter of fact, recent events have cast a dark cloud over them.
Testing them on the road is, of course, essential, but I’ve often wondered if digital simulation could be used more to maximize safety and efficiency with less road testing required.
As it turns out, this very thing, simulation, is finally being performed quite extensively.
This week, Siemens introduced a breakthrough solution for the development of autonomous driving systems as an addition its Simcenter portfolio that minimizes the need for extensive physical prototyping while dramatically reducing the number of logged test miles necessary to demonstrate the safety of autonomous vehicles.
In a nutshell, this computing and simulation platform is aimed at accelerating the validation and verification of autonomous cars.
Siemens PLM Software Driving Simulator
According to the findings of a report issued by the Rand Corporation, autonomous vehicle prototypes would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles, and in some cases hundreds of billions of miles, over the course of several decades to demonstrate their reliability in terms of fatalities and injuries – an outcome the authors deemed inconsistent with the near-term commercial viability of self-driving cars. For possible solutions to these challenges, the researchers pointed to innovative testing methods such as advanced simulation technologies.
Leveraging advanced, physics-based simulation and innovative sensor data processing technologies, the new Siemens solution is designed to help automakers and their suppliers address this industry challenge with the potential to shave years off the development, verification and validation of self-driving cars.
March 22nd, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
This week, PTC announced Creo 5.0, the latest release of its Creo CAD software that covers concept to manufacturing in a single design environment. According to the company, Creo 5.0 introduces five new and enhanced capabilities for product design and productivity enhancements in the areas of topology optimization, additive and subtractive manufacturing, computational fluid dynamics, and CAM.
“PTC is on the leading edge of some of the hottest technologies today with the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR), but it has not forgotten its roots in CAD, instead transforming this business by infusing its leading Creo software with new technologies and capabilities,” said John Mackrell, chairman, CIMdata.
The physical design of products is often limited by existing designs and practices. The new Creo Topology Optimization Extension automatically creates optimized designs based on a defined set of objectives and constraints, and freed of existing designs and thought processes. This helps users save time and accelerate development by enabling creation of optimized parts for given tasks they must perform.
Creo automatically creates optimized geometric forms/shapes based on input conditions and defined criteria.
The Creo Topology Optimization Extension will be available Summer 2018 in the first maintenance build of Creo 5.0.