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Posts Tagged ‘SolidWorks World 2013’

ExactFlat Design Studio for SolidWorks: Designing With A Material Difference

Friday, February 15th, 2013
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.

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual Debuts

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

 

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.

Flying Robots Swarm SolidWorks World 2013

Friday, February 1st, 2013

The general sessions on the second morning of SolidWorks World 2013 were all about robots – flying robots. Two expert designers discovering new approaches to human/robot interaction and behavior shared their unique experiences. Last time we featured Festo’s SmartBird that flew over the audience.

Earlier that same morning, Dr. Vijay Kumar, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, showcased the potential of agile aerial robots flying in a swarm.

Dr. Kumar’s Scalable sWarms of Autonomous Robots and Mobile Sensors (SWARMS) project brings together experts in artificial intelligence, control theory, robotics, systems engineering and biology, attempting to understand swarming behaviors in nature and applications of biologically-inspired models of swarm behaviors to large networked groups of autonomous vehicles.

Video highlights of Dr. Kumar’s presentation include (minutes into the video):

12:00    20 robots flying in formation

13:00    Flying robots collaborating to carry payloads

14:00    Flying robots collaborating and building a structure

19:45    A swarm of flying robots play the James Bond theme song

The project attempts to answer such questions as:

  • Can large numbers of autonomously functioning vehicles be reliably deployed in the form of a “swarm” to carry out a prescribed mission and to respond as a group to high-level management commands?
  • Can such a group successfully function in a potentially hostile environment, without a designated leader, with limited communications between its members, and/or with different and potentially dynamically changing “roles” for its members?
  • What can we learn about how to organize these teams from biological groupings such as insect swarms, bird flocks, and fish schools?
  • Is there a hierarchy of “compatible” models appropriate to swarming/schooling/flocking which is rich enough to explain these behaviors at various “resolutions” ranging from aggregate characterizations of emergent behavior to detailed descriptions which model individual vehicle dynamics?

According to Dr. Kumar, for collaborative swarming to work, three conditions must be met:

  1. Must have the ability to sense local information
  2. Must have ability to act independently
  3. Must have ability to perform anonymously, agnostic to who or what is next to you in performing a collaborative task

Dr. Kumar said the main goal of the project is to develop a framework and methodology for analyzing swarming behavior in biology and the synthesizing bio-inspired swarming behavior for engineered systems. During his presentation Dr. Kumar demonstrated some amazing things with amazing possibilities courtesy of his aerial robot swarms.

Attempting to find answers to some very complex problems by bringing together a wide variety of experts is what makes science and engineering fascinating and provides compelling reasons to get involved with the design and engineering community.

These two presentations on aerial robotics were among the highest of highlights for me at SolidWorks World 2013 – very entertaining and inspiring.




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