Jeff's MCAD Blogging
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 »
May 19th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
The notion of a 3D printer in every home has received a lot of attention in the past few years, and sales of relatively low cost 3D printers have skyrocketed.
But why? For a process and capability that was supposed to be ubiquitous and necessary for every home? Really? The machines may be relatively inexpensive, but how many parts are you truly going to want to ultimately design and produce? Then there are material, size/volume, and physical characteristic, and quality limitations. The machines can also be fickle to set up and maintain. I suspect that after an initial period of excitement and promise, a lot of early-purchase 3D printers are now sitting idle and collecting dust.
May 12th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Robots come in many shapes, sizes, functions, and prices. One of the most interesting areas of robotics that I’ve followed for the past few years are known as collaborative robots.
A collaborative robot (cobot or co-bot) is a robot designed to assist human beings as a guide or assistant in a specific task, whereas a “regular” robot is designed to be programmed to work more or less autonomously. Generally, a cobot works collaboratively with a human and allows that human to perform certain operations successfully if they fit within the scope of the task and to steer the human on a correct path when the human begins to stray from or exceed the scope of the task.
Because co-bots are relatively affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are adopting this technology at rapid rates, and some analysts expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few years.
May 5th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Like virtually all of our readers, I have purchased and used a lot of proprietary software for a long time. I am also a fan and proponent of the open software and hardware movement. Here, I’ll touch on open source hardware and focus on open source software.
One of the things I really like about source software and hardware is that it is about working not with just technology, but people. Also, the open source software and hardware sectors are growing. Open source software is not driven by corporate budgets, but by people fulfilling a need and software development and use freedom. My open source experience has also taught me that the currency of open source is not necessarily money, but more likely, beer and T-shirts.
April 28th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Wohlers Associates, Inc., recently released the Wohlers Report 2016, the company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, interest in 3D printing again reached an unprecedented level and exceeded $5.1 billion last year, as well as growing by $1 billion for the second consecutive year.
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 more than two decades. Over its 21 years of 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. I think it easily remains the most comprehensive resource on the topic and market.
April 14th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Last week, Dassault Systèmes announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire full ownership of 3DPLM Software Ltd. (3DPLM), its joint venture in India with Geometric Ltd.
3DPLM, formed in 2002 with Dassault, has a team of about 2,000 employees in India working on research and development and services related to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and brand applications. In 2002, Geometric was a joint venture with Dassault Systèmes, 3D PLM Software Solutions Ltd. with an equity participation of 58% and 42% respectively.
In other words, moving forward to last week, Dassault Systemes said it will acquire all of 3DPLM Software, an R&D company it owns jointly with Geometric, an Indian engineering services provider. The transaction means that the French PLM software group will be able to fully integrate 3DPLM into its operations, which center around its 3D Experience platform.
April 7th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
This week MakerBot announced that it had sold more than 100,000 3D printers worldwide. The company said it was able to reach this milestone (as the first 3D printer company to do it) by providing an accessible, affordable, and easy-to-use 3D printing experience.
“Being the first company to have sold 100,000 3D printers is a major milestone for MakerBot and the entire industry,” said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO at MakerBot. “MakerBot has made 3D printing more accessible and today is empowering businesses and educators to redefine what’s possible. What was once a product used only by makers and hobbyists has matured significantly and become an indispensible tool that is changing the way students learn and businesses innovate.”
MakerBot was one of the first companies to make 3D printing accessible and affordable. Since its founding in 2009, MakerBot has pushed 3D printing and has introduced many industry firsts. Thingiverse was the first platform where anyone could share 3D designs and launched even before MakerBot was founded. In 2009, MakerBot introduced its first 3D printer, the Cupcake CNC, at SXSW. In 2010, MakerBot became the first company to present a 3D printer at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Now, 3D printing is its own category at CES with a myriad of 3D printing companies from around the world in attendance each year.
MakerBot 5th Generation 3D Printer
March 31st, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
While proponents (usually with deep pockets) have touted their benefits, software patents have also been used in the software industry to suppress innovation, kill competition, generate undeserved royalties, and make patent attorneys rich. So I ask, are software patents still relevant?
It’s no secret that the engineering software business is extremely competitive, as it always has been. The engineering software business has also proven to be a very fertile ground for lawsuits regarding patent infringement, reverse engineering, and outright copying and pasting blocks of code.
Could stronger patent protection have prevented this from happening? Maybe yes, but probably, no.
The Danger of Software Patents – Richard Stallman
Software patents has been hotly debated for years. Opponents to them have gained more visibility with less resources through the years than pro-patent supporters. Through these debates, arguments for and critiques against software patents have been focused mostly on the economic consequences of software patents, but there is a lot more to it than just money.
March 24th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Earlier this week many of us in the MCAD community were saddened to hear of the passing of Andrew (Andy) Grove, the former CEO and Chairman of Intel Corp. He was one of the most acclaimed and influential personalities of the computer and Internet eras, as well as being instrumental in the development and proliferation of the CAD software as we know it today that runs on PCs.
Born András Gróf in Budapest, Hungary in 1936, Mr. Grove came to the United States in 1956. He studied chemical engineering at the City College of New York, completing his Ph.D at the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. After graduation, he was hired by Gordon Moore (of Moore’s Law fame) at Fairchild Semiconductor as a researcher and rose to assistant head of R&D under Moore. When Robert Noyce and Moore left Fairchild to found Intel in 1968, Mr. Grove was their first hire.
He became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987, and served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005. During his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was a very influential figure in technology and business, and several business leaders, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, sought his advice.
Mr. Grove played a critical role in the decision to move Intel’s focus from memory chips to microprocessors and led the firm’s move as a recognized consumer brand. Under his leadership, Intel produced the chips, including the 386 and Pentium, that helped foster the PC era. The company also increased annual revenues from $1.9 billion to more than $26 billion.
Just as we could have rode into the sunset, along came the Internet, and it tripled the significance of the PC.
March 17th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Like many of the ingredients in a manufacturing organization’s computer technology alphabet soup, such as ERP, SCM, CRM, not to mention CAD, CAM, and CAE, product lifecycle management (PLM) for years has been touted as being the final frontier for integrating all manufacturing IT functions. Honestly, though, can it truly provide all that the various vendors are promising? I have asked myself that question for several years now: Is PLM a great hope or just another great and continuing hype?
It seems that every vendor defines PLM in a manner that best suits their respective existing product lines and business practices, and not always necessarily the processes of the customers they are trying to serve. Therein lies a big part of the PLM problem. PLM should address processes and not just products, especially the vendors’. Too few vendors still stress the processes they are claiming to improve over the products (and perpetual services) they are selling.
It also seems like everybody (yes, now including just about every CAD vendor big and small) has at least tried to get into the PLM act, regardless of whether they should or should not based on their development and integration capabilities or the needs of their customers. Even database giant, Oracle, has said for years that it wants to be a major PLM player, although the company has eluded that it doesn’t want to dirty its hands with traditional CAD/CAM stuff. Oracle wants to look at the bigger picture, although it has never elaborated on what that picture is.