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 14th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
With all the fanfare that took place a couple years ago with the launch of cloud-based Onshape, we thought we’d weigh in with partner Geometric’s announcement of its STL Workshop.
Onshape is by no means the first cloud-based/mobile CAD application. It was and still is, however, a unique true cloud-based technology and not a desktop/cloud hybrid.
Onshape began with what was one of the best and worst kept secrets in the engineering software arena. Worst, because even early on, it was evident that the technology would be cloud based, even if virtually no details were disclosed. Best, because virtually no details were disclosed, and that just added to the anticipation for the official launch of Onshape.
One of the inherent advantages that Onshape has always had is the fact that it was created from scratch by a team used to creating things from scratch with no legacy baggage to overcome and work around. Of course, the development team has not done everything themselves, because Onshape includes software components from Siemens PLM (Parasolid; ironically the same modeling kernel used by SolidWorks) and D-Cubed. This component licensing has let the Onshape team focus its efforts on what it does best.
Geometric’s STL Workbench for Onshape
July 7th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Like them or not, PC benchmarks let you evaluate performance, identify potential bottlenecks, and choose effective system upgrades of both hardware and software. Unfortunately, too many users still think that system performance is simply a matter of CPU frequency or memory capacity, which leads them to think that dropping in a faster CPU or more memory will automatically yield significant performance improvements. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case.
While CPU and memory upgrades can help in some instances, it often makes more sense to upgrade the storage subsystem or the graphics board if you’re looking for perceptible improvement in system responsiveness or performance. For example, if you run a series of benchmarks and identify the components holding your system back, you’ll be able to choose the most effective upgrade for your current system – or at least determine which components make the most sense in a new system suited to your particular needs.
June 30th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
A couple weeks ago at Hexagon’s International Conference (HxGN Live 2016), Gamma 2 Robotics, makers of artificially intelligent autonomous security robots, intoduced RAMSEE, a new security patrol robot. The launch at HxGN LIVE was part of a new partnership with Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure.
I spoke with the company’s chief product officer, Francis X. Govers III in a video interview at the conference that you can view by clicking here.
RAMSEE is a physical robotic presence that, once it is programmed, patrols autonomously without supervision and provides real-time data on intruders, motion, heat, fire, smoke, and toxic gas leaks. The company says that it will soon offer fire suppression options for RAMSEE. As a human-machine interface it creates a powerful force multiplier, especially noteworthy for jobs that are difficult to fill, such as overnight security.
June 23rd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Last week Autodesk announced several updates to its Forge platform, including new cloud application development tools, and three investments at Forge DevCon, the company’s inaugural event for cloud developers.
Since its inception in December 2015, Autodesk claims that rapid progress has been made with early adopters of the Forge Platform in changing both what and how things are made, and at transforming “the future of making things.”
The Forge Program consists of three main components; the Forge platform (PaaS), developer program, and a $100M investment fund. The cloud-based Forge Platform features APIs and SDKs developers can use to create design, engineering, visualization, collaboration, and other types of enterprise applications. The Forge developer program aims to bring together a community of cloud application developers by providing application development resources.
June 16th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
We were in the land of Disney this week in Anaheim, California attending HxGN Live 2016, Hexagon’s international user conference. Millions of kids are now out of school and it seemed like a good percentage of them were in town to visit Mickey Mouse and company.
A little over six months ago, what was known as Hexagon Metrology became Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, a major rebranding to reflect its increasing capabilities in data-driven manufacturing. Much of the rebranding was enabled by Hexagon’s acquisitions that broadened its historical scope, such as the acquisition of Vero Software, a diverse CAD/CAM vendor. Surprisingly, Vero had a relatively minor presence at HxGN Live this year, but that is supposed to change at next year’s HxGN conference.
June 9th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
What a difference a few days make. Last week I was in Denver teaching math to middle schoolers and this week I was in Boston with about 4,000 others attending PTC’s LiveWorx 16. The spotlight at the conference shone on the Internet of Things (IoT) and PTC’s commitment to it.
So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) thing is still just a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 16 in Boston this week, IoT is becoming an increasingly big part of the future – not only for PTC, but for all of us.
Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over the past couple might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (~2,300 attendees); LiveWorx 16 (~4,000 attendees). Attendance numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.
June 2nd, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
This week marks the end of grand experiment and challenge for me – I’ve taught middle school math for the past 39 weeks. I began the school with an apprehensive sense of anxiousness and hope and ended it with a great sense of accomplishment and relief.
Before I got involved this school year I had been interested not only in education in general, but how I might get actively involved, especially at the high school level in math and/or science. No, I have never been a teacher in a formal sense, and no, I don’t have a teaching credential either (something I was reminded of continually throughout the year). Even though I had the will and desire to become a teacher, unless I had a teaching license issued by the state of Colorado, my options were scarce.
I could have been a volunteer or a private tutor, but for me these options were limited in scope, responsibility, and personal satisfaction. I thought last year that I was at a dead end until I remembered an ad I had seen and saved a couple of years previously about a program called Denver Math Fellows. This program is a large-scale supplemental intervention program integrated into the school day.
A Typical Classroom Setting
The concept and possibility of becoming a Denver Math Fellow (DMF) really appealed to me because one of the primary qualifications was a college degree (mine’s in industrial design/mechanical engineering technology). This was a good option for me because I had never been a teacher before. Other qualifications included the desire to help students close the opportunity gap in math, as well as committing to at least a one-year term of service — in my case August 2015 through this week.
May 26th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe
Shapeways, a leading 3D printing service and marketplace for consumers, announced a collaboration with HP Inc. to help drive HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Printer. Shapeways said it is the first company to receive an early prototype unit in its Eindhoven, Netherlands factory and is working closely with HP. Once publicly available sometime later this year, Shapeways hopes the new commercial HP offering will provide its 3D community with a superior quality black nylon material that will 3D print in greater detail, with a faster lead time, and at a lower cost than current dyed nylons.
Shapeways produces roughly 3,000 unique products every day and over 1 million unique products annually.
“We chose to work with Shapeways because they are the leading authority in bringing creative ideas to life and are the largest consumer 3D printing portal, with 3,000 products made every day,” said Stephen Nigro, president of HP’s 3D printing business. “The HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution will enable Shapeways to bring high quality parts up to 10 times faster than before for lower cost.”
HP’s Virginia Palacio and Stefan Rink, Shapeways VP of Manufacturing, with the new HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system, installed in Shapeways’ Eindhoven factory.
According to Shapeways, in addition to offering superior quality, this new technology could potentially reduce standard shipping from the current seven business days to next day delivery.
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.