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 »
February 19th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
Rendering has entered the mainstream of the product development process with this capability being part of many CAD applications. However, there is still plenty of room for specialized products that optimize rendering and take it to a higher level. One of our favorites is Keyshot from Luxion, who just announced KeyShot 4, the next generation of its rendering and animation package.
Luxion continues to develop its rendering technology to bring speed and improvements to KeyShot, making it an integral part of the product development process, from concept through sales and marketing.
KeyShot 4 adds new approaches to features and improved rendering enhancements that make KeyShot an accurate 3D rendering animation system for the product visual workflow.
The new “Live Linking'”capability lets Creo, SolidWorks, and Rhinoceros users maintain all part and feature updates made to their models without having to redo any of their work inside KeyShot. This capability requires a separate plugin that is available free of charge from the KeyShot website.
Keyshot 4 introduces a new method for applying physical lights, with the ability to turn any object in the scene into a point, area, or light source. Improved import options give you more flexibility when importing 3D geometry and the ability to work with the actual units of CAD software.
Check out the Keyshot 4 overview video presentation:
More material options come courtesy of a new partnership with Mold-tech, introducing accurate representations of Mold-Tech textures.
Improved algorithms provide more realism for subsurface light scattering within translucent materials.
KeyShot Pro users now have the ability to apply render layers to objects and create Model or View Sets to explore different configurations of product appearances, camera views, and environments. Pro users will also experience enhanced HDR editing capability with dynamic environment highlighting and options to tilt and blur HDRI’s. The KeyShot user interface now has the ability to dock project, library, and animation windows. Optionally, models can now be viewed in full stereoscopic 3D on supported 3D monitors.
Increased control over the model and environment is provided with the ability to apply rounded edges to sharp corners, multi-select objects in the real-time window and create ground planes.
KeyShot 4 pricing starts at $995. As with previous versions, animation capabilities can be added to KeyShot 4 for $500 and interactive KeyShotVR capabilities can be added for $1000.
We have watched Keyshot evolve and mature as one of the best rendering packages in the marketplace, regardless of price, and Keyshot 4 continues this positive evolution.
For more information: www.keyshot.com
February 15th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
Continuing our quick looks at some of the unique exhibiting partners that we spoke with at SolidWorks World 2013, this time around we’ll briefly cover ExactFlat and its forthcoming flagship product — ExactFlat Design Studio.
The ExactFlat suite of software is designed for manufacturers working with fabrics and technical textiles. ExactFlat Design Studio for SolidWorks– the company’s newest product – is the first product to integrate the five essential steps of product development (design, flatten, pattern, nest, cost and document) inside SolidWorks.
Essentially, ExactFlat extends the 3D and 2D capabilities of SolidWorks for manufacturers producing sewn products such as automotive and transportation seating, furniture, apparel, marine, and architectural fabric structures.
“No one else can do this”, said Steven McLendon, Executive VP of ExactFlat. “By leveraging the power of a leading CAD platform like SolidWorks, and extending its capabilities to automate repetitive tasks, reduce manual processes and eliminate duplicate effort, innovative manufacturers are growing their businesses by getting 100% of the result with just 15% of the effort.”
After seven years of development and consulting with over 150 companies that work with industrial fabrics, ExactFlat provides a shift from manual to automated processes in the development of sewn products.
Check out the MCADCafe video interview with ExactFlat’s CEO, Eaton Donald.
Donald summed up the response to ExactFlat Design Studio at SolidWorks World by saying, “We are very encouraged by the strong customer and reseller interest and look forward to a highly productive and mutually beneficially relationship with SolidWorks. Sewn products are a large lucrative market. Moving fast and first to lock out the competition can lead to dominance and ownership of the segment. ExactFlat for SolidWorks seeks to achieve this position.”
When the shipping version of ExactFlat becomes available soon, we will be reviewing it running inside SolidWorks 2013. This promises to be an interesting evaluation because it will be a first for MCADCafe — designing, not with sheet metal or metal stock in mind, but fabric and textile materials.
February 13th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
One of the favorite things I get to do when attending software conferences is meeting partners in the exhibitors’ hall and letting them show their stuff. At this year’s SolidWorks World I saw a number of things that caught my eye that I’ll feature in the coming weeks.
One of the more unique things I saw demoed this year was a printer that uses paper to print not in 2D, but in 3D. I know, 3D printing with paper brings back funky memories of 3D paper printers of the past, so I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I came by the booth.
I spoke with Dr. Conor MacCormack, Mcor’s co-founder & CEO about his company’s technology and strategy. Although the company was established in 2004, the Mcor IRIS 3D color printer was introduced to an American audience for the first time at SolidWorks World.
These 3D printers are unique in that they use ordinary 8.5″ x 11″ letter paper as the build material that renders surprisingly durable, stable, and tactile models — in color.
The relatively low-cost, eco-friendly Mcor IRIS first came on the market in December 2012. According to the company it can print more than one million colors simultaneously as it creates durable, photo-realistic physical objects from 3D data.
Mcor takes its unique “TRUE Color” capability a big step forward by rendering color as rich and vibrant just as it displays on a computer screen. That’s because the build material is paper, the original and natural medium for colored ink. In addition to offering this color capability, the IRIS delivers a relatively low operating cost for a 3D printer that I’d consider commercial class — owing to its use of paper as its build material.
Raw parts that I saw and handled right out of the machine had a good quality finish that could be further finished with a liquid sealant available from the company.
To make its technology available to a wider potential customer base, Mcor recently struck a deal with Staples Printing Systems Division to launch a new 3D printing service called “Staples Easy 3D,” online via the Staples Office Center. Staples’ Easy 3D will provide consumers, product designers, architects, healthcare professionals, educators, students and others with low-cost, colored, photo-realistic 3D printed products from Staples stores. Customers will upload digital files to the Staples Office Center and pick up the models in nearby Staples stores, or have them shipped. Staples will produce the models with the Mcor IRIS, the machine that was exhibited at SolidWorks World.
As to where the IRIS fits in with other higher resolution 3D printers, Dr. MacCormack said it would provide a complementary role. That’s fair, but I think it could also fit in many design environments in a standalone capacity, depending on the quality and functional requirements.
Forgive the bad pun, but seeing is believing with the Mcor IRIS 3D printer. It’s a fresh look on 3D printing with paper.
See the interview with Mcor’s Dr. MacCormack that we conducted at SolidWorks World.
February 7th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
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.
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.
February 5th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
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.
January 28th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
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.
January 23rd, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
Are you actively involved with or just plain interested in the mechanical design workflow from concept through manufacturing? If you are, then make MechSpot.com your electro-mechanical resource and community.
MechSpot.com 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 MechSpot.com 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 MechSpot.com?” Just some of the compelling reasons include:
Your unique URL will be www.mechspot.com/CompannyName (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.
MechSpot.com is absolutely free to sign up for and use. Everything on the site is 100% free to view and download.
MechSpot.com’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 – MechSpot.com 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!
January 17th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
MechSpot.com 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 MechSpot.com community – students, schools, educators, professionals, companies, organizations, DIYers, hobbyists, and enthusiasts. There is something for everyone at MechSpot.com!
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 MechSpot.com?” The following are just some of the reasons why the MechSpot community is the right place for you and your work:
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.
MechSpot.com’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 Mechspot.com and how you can benefit from being a part of this exciting new venture. Sign up and come join us today!
Explore & Learn!
January 10th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
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
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.”
“The book reflects the tone of its author: clear, honest and unassuming.”
“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: http://www.bendnotbreak.com/purchase.html
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
What a month it’s been for Geomagic and its Founder and CEO, Ping Fu:
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.
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