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 »
July 6th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
An impossible object is a type of optical illusion. It consists of a two-dimensional figure that is instantly and subconsciously interpreted by the visual system as representing a projection of a three-dimensional object.
In most cases the impossibility becomes apparent after viewing the figure for a few seconds. However, the initial impression of a 3D object remains even after it has been contradicted. There are also more subtle examples of impossible objects where the impossibility does not become apparent spontaneously and it is necessary to consciously examine the geometry of the implied object to determine that it is impossible.
The unsettling nature of impossible objects occurs because of our natural tendency to interpret 2D drawings as 3D objects. With an impossible object, looking at different parts of the object makes one reassess the 3D nature of the object, which confuses the mind.
Although possible to represent in two dimensions, it is not geometrically possible for such an object to exist in the physical world. However, some models of impossible objects have been constructed, such that when they are viewed from a very specific point, the illusion is maintained. Rotating the object or changing the viewpoint breaks the illusion, and therefore many of these models rely on forced perspective or having parts of the model appearing to be further or closer than they actually are.
Below is the Penrose triangle (an impossible object) that was first created by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934. The mathematician Roger Penrose independently devised and popularized it in the 1950s, describing it as “impossibility in its purest form.”
A 3D-printed version of the Reutersvärd Triangle illusion, its appearance created by a forced perspective.
So what does all this have to do with MCADCafe?
June 29th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
At SOLIDWORKS World 2017 we got introduced to Xometry, a company committed to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. with its software platform for building a reliable and scalable manufacturing source program. It employs a unique machine-learning approach that provides customers with optimized manufacturing capabilities at the best price based on parameters input by customers.
Founded in 2014, Xometry is hoping to transform American manufacturing through its proprietary software platform that provides on-demand manufacturing to a diverse customer base that ranges from startups to Fortune 100 companies. The platform provides an efficient way to source high-quality custom parts, with 24/7 access to instant quote pricing, expected lead time, and manufacturability feedback that recommends best processes and practices. With more than 100 manufacturing partners, the manufacturing capabilities include CNC machining, 3D printing, sheet metal forming and fabrication, and urethane casting with over 200 materials. Xometry’s 5,000+ customers include General Electric, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NASA, and the United States Army.
Below is a video interview we conducted at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 with Randy Altschuler, CEO and co-founder of Xometry.
Randy Altschuler, CEO, Xometry at SOLIDWORKS World 2017
June 22nd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Last month at the RAPID + TCT event, many new things were presented and among those was GE Additive’s setting a target of growing its new additive manufacturing business to $1 billion by 2020, and selling 10,000 metal 3D printing machines in 10 years, building upon acquisitions it announced last year.
“It’s a big number,” said Tim Warden, senior sales director of GE Additive. “That’s why they’re investing heavily,” he said, referring to GE.
GE controls Concept after agreeing last October to buy an initial 75% stake in the German company, with plans to acquire the rest over an undisclosed number of years. The GE Additive turned to Concept Laser after a previously announced deal with SLM Solutions fell through.
The company estimates that it ultimately can expand additive manufacturing into a $10 billion business. GE owns more than 70% of Arcam but doesn’t have full control of the Swedish company.
The following video shows GE Power’s advanced manufacturing facility in Greenville, SC to learn about GE Additive’s metal 3D printing process for creating a gas turbine component that is used to power homes.
GE Additive and the Power of Additive Manufacturing
For now, “We’re concentrating on Concept where we can do what we want to do,” Warden said. “We’re going to support Concept in every way possible.”
June 15th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Las Vegas in June . . . Good idea or bad idea? I’ll try and stay neutral on this one, but this town is not exactly my favorite, regardless of time of year. However, it’s always worth the trip when a company like Hexagon invites me for its annual international conference, HxGN LIVE 2017.
June 8th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
The spring season seems to be the time of year when many companies and professional organizations hold their annual conferences, and this spring was no exception. I’ve attended several events in the past few weeks and noted striking differences of two of them — divergence at RAPID + TCT 2017 and convergence at LiveWorx 17 — and that’s how I want to wrap up our spring 2017 trade event tour (although I have one more next week).
Divergence at RAPID + TCT 2017
Diverge (dih-vurj, dahy-): T
3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) are about making something digital into something analog. Although the technologies are 30+ years old, many things are still being done as they were in the beginning, such as building 3D models, exporting STL data, etc. However, several aspects of AM are diverging from its historical roots.
For example, the first AM materials were polymers, and they still account for ~85% of all materials used, but metals are coming on strong and now account for about 14% of the materials used. The range of materials being used, though, is constantly increasing — everything from ceramics to composites to food to living tissue.
Panel Discussion at RAPID + TCT 2017
Volume quantities are also diverging from one-offs or small quantities for rapid prototyping to real production quantities where the costs can be justified when costs go down and production speed goes up.
June 1st, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
PTC’s user conference in Boston last week (LiveWorx17 ) covered a lot of ground — everything from Creo to Windchill to augmented reality (AR), but the focus of the event was PTC announcing the launch of its newest version of ThingWorx Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) platform – ThingWorx 8. According to the company, with this update, ThingWorx evolves into a more robust, comprehensive industrial IoT (IIoT) technology offering. PTC also announced a new lineup of ThingWorx-powered apps for the manufacturing environment, as well as ThingWorx Studio support for native authoring and publishing of AR experiences for Microsoft HoloLens.
Interestingly, PTC’s VP of Corporate Communications, Jack McAvoy said that two of this year’s three main messages for LiveWorx17 revolved around ThingWorx as more than a platform and the evolving ThingWorx ecosystem through physical/digital convergence.
PTC’s foray into IoT got a big boost about four years ago when it acquired ThingWorx, creators of a platform for building and running applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), for about $112 million. The acquisition of ThingWorx immediately positioned PTC as a major player in the emerging Internet of Things era.
According to a research report, Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy from the McKinsey Global Institute, the Internet of Things has the potential to create economic impact of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually by 2025. The firm believes perhaps 80 to 100 percent of all manufacturing could be using Internet of Things applications by then, leading to potential economic impact of $900 billion to $2.3 trillion, largely from productivity gains. For example, with increasingly sophisticated Internet of Things technologies becoming available, companies can not only track the flow of products or keep track of physical assets, but they can also manage the performance of individual machines and systems.
May 25th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Last week at the RAPID + TCT conference in Pittsburgh, I made a point of catching up with my friend (and fellow Coloradan), Terry Wohlers, President of Wohlers Associates. I caught him after his excellent keynote presentation where we discussed several aspects of the 3D printing industry in a video interview that will be posted on the MCADCafe site very soon.
Among the things we discussed was the recently released the Wohlers Report 2017, his company’s annual detailed analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing worldwide. According to the Report, the AM industry grew by 17.4% in worldwide revenues in 2016, down from 25.9% the year before, according to the new report. Much of the downturn came from declines by the two largest system manufacturers in the business — 3D Systems and Stratasys. Together, they represented $1.31 billion (21.7%) of the $6.063 billion AM industry. If these two companies were excluded from the analysis, the industry would have grown by 24.9%.
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 22 years of publication, many (including me) have referred to the report as the “bible” of 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.
Wohlers Report 2017
May 18th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Solid Edge SE10’s Generative Design + Reverse Engineering + 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing = Siemens Convergent Modeling
Last week at the Siemens PLM Connection 2017, I was introduced to several new products and technologies, and was reintroduced to a product that I had prior experience with, but needed a refresher as to where it stood today — Solid Edge ST10.
The latest release brings just about every aspect of product development forward with new design technology, enhanced fluid flow and heat transfer analysis, and cloud-based collaboration tools. Solid Edge ST10 makes it easier to optimize parts for additive manufacturing (AM) and obtain quotes, material selection and delivery schedules from AM service providers. Newly integrated topology optimization technology, combined with Siemens’ Convergent Modeling technology, improves product design efficiency and the ability to work with imported geometry.
Originally developed and released by Intergraph in 1996 using the ACIS geometric modeling kernel it later changed to the Parasolid kernel. In 1998 it was purchased and further developed by UGS Corp (the purchase date corresponds to the kernel swap).
Solid Edge ST10 Preview (Video Courtesy of Nancy Johnson).
In an effort to appeal to SMBs with Solid Edge ST10, John Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Siemens PLM Software, said, “Digitalization is leveling the playing field, providing unlimited opportunities for small-to medium-sized businesses to disrupt industry.”
May 11th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
It’s not often (thankfully) that I cover two major conference events in the same week, but this week was exceptional (in a good way) — Siemens PLM Connection and RAPID + TCT 3D Printing & Manufacturing.
Siemens PLM Connection
The Siemens PLM Connection event in Indianapolis was a first timer for me and I got a lot out of it.
The major theme I came away with was Siemens’ push for what it calls the digital enterprise hub based on a digital twin.
There are many definitions of the digital twin, but for Siemens, a digital twin is a set of computer models that provide the means to design, validate and optimize a part, a product, a manufacturing process or a production facility in the virtual world. It does these things fast, accurately and as close as possible to the real thing – the physical counterpart. These digital twins use data from sensors that are installed on physical objects to represent their near real time status, working condition or position.
A deployment of a digital twin includes three pillars: in product design, in manufacturing process planning and in feedback loops.
1. In product design. A digital twin includes all design elements of a product, namely:
May 4th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Clean up after anything is not usually an especially enjoyable endeavor, even where subtractive or additive manufacturing processes are concerned. This is where post processing comes in.
The Problem with CAD In Subtractive Manufacturing
To cut parts using a CNC cutting machine, it has to be programmed with the path of the desired shape or nest of shapes. Most parts are designed with a CAD program where they are saved in a CAD drawing format, such as DWG, STEP, or several others.
But you can’t just take the CAD file and send it to a cutting machine. It has to be interpreted first, so the CNC on the cutting machine can understand it. The problem with CAD file formats is that:
Post Processing For Subtractive Machining