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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
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 »

MBD Finally Gaining Momentum for Smart Manufacturing

 
November 10th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a very interesting event called the 3D Collaboration & Interoperability Congress 2016 (3D CIC) that was hosted by our colleagues at Action Engineering. The actual conference event was two days, but was preceded by a SOLIDWORKS user group meeting that focused exclusively on model-based definition (MBD) for an entire day. Myself, along with about 60 other attendees got a good look at MBD, not just SOLIDWORKS’ perspective, but a broader view, as well.

I was fortunate to sit next to Oboe Wu, product manager at SOLIDWORKS who is a huge proponent of MBD. With SOLIDWORKS MBD, you can communicate product and PMI directly in 3D, bypassing time-consuming 2D processes, in other words, drawings.

SOLIDWORKS MBD sets data such as product models, dimensions, geometric tolerances, surface finishes, welding symbols, bills of material (BOM), callouts, tables, notes, Meta properties, and other annotations within the SOLIDWORKS 3D environment in 3D PMI. Because all the information needed to guide the operation is integrated with the 3D models, traditional 2D drawings are no longer needed (at least in theory).

With MBD, 2D drawings become less necessary and meaningful. Instead of having a 3D model and a 2D drawing in a traditional workflow, the model is the drawing in an MBD workflow. The MBD approach provides a direct connection and single digital data thread from design to engineering to inspection.

SOLIDWORKS MBD 2017

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One Year In, HP Inc. Continues To Reinvent Itself

 
November 3rd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

If there ever was a company that has struggled to reinvent and find itself, as well as its former stature in consumer and commercial technology, it’s HP.

There was a time when HP had no equal in several product segments, such as test & measurement, calculators, pocket PCs/personal assistants, etc., but those days are long gone. Sure, the company reigns in printers, and their desktop and mobile workstations are good, but not nearly as compelling as in the good old days.

HP’s reign as the world’s largest manufacturer of personal computers came to an end in the second quarter of 2013. At the time sales figures showed that Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo shipped more computers during that period than HP, which had held the crown as the largest PC maker since at least 2006.

In an attempt to return to its former glory days, HP split into two public companies with one side focusing on its cloud and enterprise market (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise), and the other on personal systems (computers) and printers (HP Inc.). To make this happen, the company also cut thousands of jobs in the process.


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Wakeup Call For One Of IoT’s Biggest Nightmares – Denial of Service

 
October 27th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

Well, it was only a matter of time before what happened last Friday happened. I’m talking about the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) incident on server farms of a key internet firm, Dyn, that repeatedly disrupted access to major websites and online services including Twitter, Netflix,GitHub, and PayPal across the U.S. and Europe last Friday. The White House called the disruption malicious and hacker groups have claimed responsibility, though their assertion is not yet verified.

The event involved multiple denial-of-service (DoS) attacks targeting systems operated by Domain Name System (DNS) provider, Dyn, that rendered major internet platforms and services unavailable to large swaths of North America and Europe.

“The complexity of the attacks is what is making it so difficult for us,” said Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategy officer. “What they are actually doing is moving around the world with each attack.”

As a DNS provider, Dyn provides to end-users the service of mapping an Internet domain name—when, for instance, entered into a web browser—to its corresponding IP address. The DDoS attack involved tens of millions of DNS lookup requests from a large number of IP addresses. The activities are believed to involve a botnet coordinated through a large number of IoT devices that had been infected with the Mirai malware.


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Apple Adding To Computer Product Line Minus Ports

 
October 20th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

According to an article this week in Engadget, Apple reportedly plans to eliminate the USB 3.0 and Magsafe ports on its next-gen MacBook, and kill the 11-inch MacBook Air altogether. That’s according to Macotakara, the Japanese rumor site that was among the first to predict that the company would kill the traditional headphone jack on the iPhone 7. It also claims that Apple will unveil a 15.4- and 13.3-inch MacBook Pro at a new product launch event next week.

If the report is accurate, MacBook Pros will only have USB Type C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. As with the new MacBook, you’d presumably charge it through the USB-C port and connect peripherals via Thunderbolt 3. That means you’d need some kind of USB 3.0 adapter, since the majority of storage and other peripherals still use the traditional standard. For the MacBook, Apple sells a $79 USB-C dock that gives you USB 3.0, USB-C for power and an HDMI connection.

Mac USB Ports

Are These Ports Gone In The New MacBook Pros?

The company will also release a new 13.3-inch MacBook Air, but discontinue the 11-inch model, according to the report. That squares with previous rumors that Apple would kill the smaller Air model, since it has been made effectively redundant by the 12-inch MacBook. However, it also shows that it isn’t discontinuing the MacBook Air completely, as some feared (including me).

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Dassault Systemes Helps Drive Driverless Vehicle Development With 3DEXPERIENCE

 
October 13th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

When it comes to product manufacturing, consumers have zero tolerance for errors, and even less when it comes to vehicles. As we enter into a new generation of vehicle R&D with connected and autonomous cars, these expectations will only increase. What will this mean for automotive manufacturers and how will it change the traditional design and development processes?

Enter 3D modeling, simulation, and virtual reality (VR), things that Dassault Systemes knows something about.

Two announcements made recently by Groupe Renault and PSA Group demonstrate how Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is helping car companies to use several 3D technologies to design, create, and visualize innovative transportation products, including autonomous vehicles, to meet the demand of their customers with what it calls its Target Zero Defect platform.

Dassault Systemes’ Target Zero Defect Collaborative Platform

The transportation and mobility industries are continually impacted by broad social and economic trends. Concern for the environment is currently the top influencer. The push for improved fuel efficiency has received unprecedented attention, with government agencies worldwide imposing increasingly strict regulations. Environmental friendliness has also become a purchasing concern of consumers, who also demand the same web connectivity and entertainment options they experience at home and on their mobile devices. And then there’s connected/autonomous/driverless vehicles.

Dassault Systèmes is responding to these business and technical challenges with its Transportation and Mobility Industry Solution Experiences. The “Target Zero Defect” Experience builds upon the 3DEXPERIENCE platform with a series of industry-tailored process modules that empower users with the tools needed to address many industry concerns. For customers in the transportation and mobility industry these modules can help initiate the product development process flow using company-established knowledge and best practices that ensure and sustain competitive advantage. Through the full cycle of development from conceptual engineering to component design, manufacturing, and final assembly, the Dassault Systèmes industry process modules are designed to allow users to target zero defects in product delivery.

DE_3D_EXperience

Target Zero Defect Modules Span the Automotive Product Lifecycle

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HP Adding A New Dimension To Printing

 
October 10th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

For as long as I can remember, HP has produced an incredible range of products for science, engineering, and consumer customers. More recently the company has had a huge presence in computers and 2D printers.

Now, HP has vision for 3D printing for manufacturing parts on a relatively economical machine it calls the Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printer. The company claims these parts will have similar quality and characteristics as injection-molded parts, and will print at speeds that HP claims to be 10x compared to similar competing technologies. More about these claims to follow.

However, I have to wonder if HP will be able to fulfill its promise.

The HP Multi Jet Fusion Printer

HP wants to deliver SLS-quality parts on a system targeted at the professional 3D printer market. So-called professional 3D printers can be run in office environments and use photopolymers as material and inkjet printheads for material deposition. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion uses a printhead to jet a resin onto a powderbed where it will be fused.

In a Multi Jet Fusion technology white paper HP states, “Compared to SLS, HP Multi-Jet Fusion technology helps reduce the overall focused energy requirements needed to attain full fusing, resulting in more consistent material properties.” So SLS has higher “focused overall energy requirements,” yet the strong thermal bonds this energy creates is exactly what make SLS so desirable. So, exactly what is this process and can it really create material properties that match SLS and even injection-molded parts?

Tim Heller, Director 3D Printing, Hewlett-Packard At IMTS 2016

Historically, parts made from 3D printers, such as the MJF have lacked the robust mechanical properties of injection-molded parts. SLS is the only viable additive manufacturing technology capable of matching injection-molded parts in tensile strength and long-term stability. Materials undergoing the fusion process have issues that point to a natural limitation, not a technological oversight that HP or any other manufacturer can truly fix.

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Stratasys Shows Off Unique 3D Printing Demonstrators At IMTS

 
October 6th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

IMTS Logo

Last month at IMTS 2016 we checked out a lot of new and improved manufacturing technologies, including several innovative developments in 3D printing/additive manufacturing. A couple of the most unique technology introductions were from Stratasys.

The company demonstrated its next-generation manufacturing technologies as part of its Shaping What’s Next vision for manufacturing that builds on its industrial FDM 3D printing expertise in response to the needs of customers’ most challenging applications, addressing manufacturers’ needs to rapidly produce strong parts ranging in size from an automobile armrest to an entire aircraft interior panel.

Stratasys developed two new prototype machines that they called demonstrators to prove their practicality – the Infinite Build 3D Demonstrator and the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator.

Stratasys CMO, Tim Bohling, Leads Tour of Company’s 3D Printing at IMTS 2016

The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator

The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator was designed to address the requirements of aerospace, automotive and other industries for large, lightweight, thermoplastic parts with predictable mechanical properties. The 3D Demonstrator featured a new approach to FDM extrusion that increases throughput and repeatability. The system also employed a unique “infinite-build” approach, that prints on a vertical plane for parts that are virtually unlimited size in the build direction, such as entire airplane panels.

The Infinite-Build demonstrator is called that because, by flipping the vertical FDM process on its side, “We’re able to print parts in that vertical plane direction essentially as large as we want,” said Rich Garrity, president of Stratasys Americas.

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CAM Software Developments at IMTS 2016 – Part 2

 
September 29th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

IMTS Logo

During the course of IMTS 2016 we visited and talked with several CAM vendors on what they specifically were showing at the event, as well as their take on the CAM industry in general.

In Part 2 of a series started last week, what follows are the results of some of the conversations we had while looking for the newest and most innovative in CAM software at IMTS 2016.

MachineWorks

MachineWorks functionality offers real-time simulation and verification for virtually any type of CNC machining, including kinematics, multi-axis, mill-turn, robotics, Swiss-type turning, Wire EDM, hybrid machining (subtractive + additive manufacturing) with features such as on-the-fly crash and gouge check, target part comparison, material removal and infinite zooming.

The forthcoming MachineWorks release contains many developments, one of the most significant being the support of cloud-based applications for CNC simulation and verification. This new feature allows networked devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops to visualize MachineWorks simulations running in the cloud.

MachineWorks Verification Software Showing Clash Detection

A new geometry query API makes rendering integration much easier for applications. It has been designed to be future-proof and flexible.

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CAM Software Developments at IMTS 2016 – Part 1

 
September 22nd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

IMTS Logo

IMTS is all about the many aspects of manufacturing from a technology standpoint, so it’s only natural that a lot of the major CAM vendors were represented on the exhibition floor.

During the course of IMTS 2016 we visited and talked with several CAM vendors on what they specifically were showing at the event, as well as their take on the CAM industry in general.

Almost without exception, every CAM vendor we spoke with talked of faster rates for increased efficiency/productivity, greater levels of automation with less operator intervention required, better integration with CAD, ability to handle a broader range of machines, tools, and materials, new roughing and finishing strategies, and so on. Some touted cloud-based capabilities and the ability to exploit the benefits of model-based design. Admittedly, though, with fancy new wrappers, some of the CAM tools were basically repackaged with aging technology more than a decade old underlying a new user interface. However, there were some notable exceptions, and these really stood out from the pack as CAM innovations.

What follows are the results of some of the conversations we had while looking for the latest and greatest in CAM software and what was truly new.

Autodesk

At IMTS 2016 Autodesk ushered in its new 2017 CAM products for many advanced manufacturing applications ranging from CNC mill- and lathe-programming to complex mold and die manufacturing that combine the legacy in CAM software from Delcam with Autodesk’s 3D design and manufacturing software.

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IMTS 2016: Exhausting, But Exhilarating

 
September 15th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

IMTS LogoHeld every two years at McCormick Place in Chicago, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is the one of the largest (over 110,000 attendees), most comprehensive (~2,400 exhibitors), and longest (six days) manufacturing shows conferences in the world, certainly North America. This year’s event marked IMTS’s 31st edition. First timers and long timers are overwhelmed by the sheer size of this event. At over 1.3 million square feet, you better dress comfortably and prepare for an overload of manufacturing technology sights and sounds.

Because IMTS is so comprehensive and massive, planning is everything, and as you walk around the various pavilions, you start to get a sense of trends and likely future impact of just about all of the technological aspects of design, engineering, and manufacturing.

IMTS Balloon

Below are the major manufacturing trends that I experienced this week. Starting next week I’ll detail what I considered to be the most significant technologies and products showcased at IMTS this time around. Next week, I’ll also go over the major software developments that were introduced — mostly CAM, but some significant stuff.

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