During the past few weeks, we’ve spent quite a bit of time with HP – at one of its primary facilities and with one of its new products, the HP Elitebook 8740w mobile workstation. What follows are our impressions of both.
I live in Colorado and for some time have wanted to visit HP’s desktop workstation operation in Fort Collins, CO. Well, during the first week of October I finally got my chance. Along with several of my peers, as well as my boss and publisher of MCADCafe, David Heller, we spent a day at the HP Workstation Labs facility and saw a number of things that impressed us.
Today, HP’s workstations are used to design everything from running shoes and race cars to animated characters and deep-sea submersibles, as well as to manage research labs, mission-critical IT environments and billions of dollars of tradable securities. HP’s workstations are designed to meet the needs of some of the most compute-intensive industries, including animation, graphic design, CAD, architecture, photography, high-definition video, manufacturing, finance, scientific imaging and oil and gas exploration.
Not all that long ago, four key players manufactured traditional workstations: Silicon Graphics, Sun, IBM and HP. Today, HP is the only surviving and thriving workstation vendor of those four. In just a few years, HP has climbed from a distant second in the market into a virtual dead heat with Dell, according to Jon Peddie Research (JPR’s December 2009 workstation report).
In February 2010, industry research firm IDC reported that HP is statistically tied for the top spot in the desktop workstation category in market share in the fourth quarter of 2009. HP's share showed strong growth during past quarters, culminating with a 43.3 percent share worldwide, according to the IDC Worldwide Regional Workstation Tracker, February 2010.
In the engineering sector, namely MCAD, HP leads and also qualifies more engineering applications than any other vendor. Some aspect of most cars, buses and trucks on the road today was designed on an HP Workstation. Interestingly, AutoCAD, is developed primarily on HP hardware. Additionally, more than 100 other Autodesk products use HP hardware extensively in development.
The HP Workstations Hardware Turn-on Lab
After some introductions and a walk-though of HP’s workstation business, we were led on a three-hour tour of the facility that was as entertaining as it was enlightening. What follows are just some of the things we saw and experienced.
The Hardware Turn-on Lab is set up in functional expert-areas where engineers test a wide range of components.
In the first area, experts test mechanics, thermals, and acoustics. The results of these tests provide HP customers with lower acoustics and ultimately higher performance.
Down the next row was the displays compatibility testing area, where engineers validate HP performance and other vendor branded displays on HP Workstations to ensure compatibility for customers.
In the power test area, experts test all power supplies and converters to maximize performance, stability and reliability under the most stressful conditions.
In the mass storage area, HP tests hard disc drives and optical disc drives. This testing allows HP to ensure high quality drives to customers for every configuration.
In the Energy Star test area, HP conducts Energy Star configuration testing. This testing allows HP to provide customers with the latest Energy Star requirements, many times ahead of schedule.
The motherboard test areas are where HP tests initial and subsequent revisions of motherboards to qualify them for products. Extensive motherboard testing allows HP to squeeze out the maximum performance from industry-standard parts and increase user productivity through higher system performance.
Further down is the BIOS debug test area. You have hardware, you have software: here’s where HP gets them to work together.
One of the HP signature areas is the total customer experience and quality customer escalation center. This is where the HP Workstation support team tests customer-reported issues. Here, HP has the ability to recreate any problem the customer is experiencing and, as importantly, fix it in a timely manner.
In the rework and prototype build area, engineers rework motherboards and build prototype systems to identify potential mechanical issues for the design team before the release of a product.
The graphics test lab ensures graphics hardware and software operate like customers expect them to. The tests conducted were developed over 25 years of graphics testing, dating back to when HP developed its own graphics cards. This testing is performed on all HP Workstation platforms and graphics cards and provides customers with higher quality components that ultimately provide greater performance.
In the system integration test area, experts work to identify possible hardware, driver, operating system and BIOS issues. Combined, this test team has more than 55 years of testing experience. The testing done here provides customers with trouble-free operation between hardware, operating system and drivers and higher reliability by design.
The last area in the Hardware Turn-on Lab is the QA and Windows hardware qualification lab. Here HP ensures a positive out-of-box experience for its customers.
The 10-Meter Electromagnetic Compatibility Chamber
National regulatory agencies around the world require electronic equipment manufacturers to ensure that their products do not interfere with licensed communications, such as radio, television, air traffic control and police communications, to name a few.
The 10-Meter electromagnetic compatibility chamber is a shielded room, consisting of a 65-by-52-foot steel box with a 30-foot ceiling and special doors with electromagnetic seals. This keeps outside radio signals from interfering with measurements. The chamber gives HP the ability to do on-site development, debugging and certification, which allows for fast and accurate verification of specifications.
The HP Workstation Z-SAV
The Z-SAV is the system archival vault where HP organizes and stores an inventory of components and options representing all possible customer shippable configurations of the Z workstations. This impressive system enables customer service to quickly find solutions to virtually any customer issue.
The Model Shop
The model shop is key to HP workstation innovation, product performance, quality and customer responsiveness. Staffed with two master machinists, the shop is used by the engineering team to evolve and tune their designs for everything from custom mechanical fasteners to industrial design concepts. Having this model shop on-site allows for more design iterations, which enables design optimization while meeting customer’s demands.
The HP Workstation Hardware Test Center
The hardware test center focuses on ensuring HP workstations can not only survive, but thrive in the outside world. Here HP subjects its workstations to extreme high and low temperatures, blast high power RF at working systems and conduct shock, drop, and vibration testing. This testing ensures that the workstations will survive the extreme conditions of shipping and climates around the world.
The HP Workstations Materials Science Lab
State-of-the-art chemistry and physics tools are used in the materials science lab to help the engineers solve complex issues during the development, manufacture and use of HP Workstations. HP’s testing ensures that technologies used in HP Workstations are constructed properly, meet industry standards and will provide customers with a quality product. This lab is also helps HP meet its stringent environmental goals, many of which become standards for the broader electronics industry.
All in all, this was a day very well spent for all the great HP people we met with and the insight we got that demonstrated HP’s commitment to its products and customers.
Inside HP's Ft. Collins Workstation Test LabBy David Heller
It’s a good thing I wore my most comfortable shoes during my recent visit to HP’s test lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado. If I hadn’t, my feet and legs would still be sore today. I joined a small group of reporters at the lab and spent 3 hours walking miles through this huge facility stopping at each specialized test lab for very in-depth guided tours.
We toured the Hardware Test Center, which I call the “Shake & Bake Lab,” where workstations and other hardware are physically stressed to the max; The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) labs where hardware is bombarded with radio frequency waves to gauge how susceptible the units are to the effects of RFI; the Model Shop where the future is imagined; the RF testing area where hardware returned from the field is investigated to identify the cause of the failure; to a demonstration room where we learned about HP’s latest and greatest new hot stuff; and to the Material Science Lab, which is the focus of this installment.
I’ve elected to break my experience into installments that focus and expand on each of the departments I visited so I can “bring” you with me on the three-hour tour.
Paul’s a Happy Man in the “CSI” Lab
CSI, the acronym for “Crime Scene Investigation,” is the perfect name for Dr. Paul Mazurkiewicz’s well equipped Material Science Lab in Ft. Collins. When Jim Schinnerer, in the “Shake and Bake” lab next door, drops a workstation from ten feet high onto a concrete slab, or exposes one to high humidity or extreme and prolonged heat it’s up to the good Doctor to reconstruct and investigate any failures caused by this rough and tumble treatment. And, when equipment fails in the field, Paul uses his investigative skills and advanced tools to find the cause and make recommendations so a similar failure won’t occur, ever again.
Paul is a very happy man. Smiling, with a zealous, almost religious glint in his eyes he proudly showed our small group of reporters around his high-tech sanctuary. And, once I got a glimpse of the lab and its bevy of high-tech tools I understood why Paul was smiling. Neat technology is embedded in my genetic coding, and I was smiling too.
Dr. Mazurkiewicz welcomed us as we filtered into his well equipped lab. “I’m Paul, chief scientist here at the Material Sciences Lab and my job is to help the engineers figure out complex problems they encounter during development, and I also help the customer support engineers solve problems out in the field. The best way for me to show you what we do here is to take you through the materials lab and show you some of our tools and how we use them.”
The Real Time X-Ray: Seeing Through Metal
Paul first showed us how he uses the real-time x-ray machine to perform failure analysis. “The real-time x-ray machine was specifically made for the electronics industry and includes artificial intelligence routines that help us make decisions about the quality of such things such as solder joints and electrical connections. “
He kicked off the demo by passing around a 3” diameter analog pocket stop-watch. He then placed the watch inside a small shielded safe-like box closed the heavy door and turned on the real-time x-ray machine. “Opening the pocket watch doesn’t look like it’ll be easy,” he said, “and there’s a chance we might break it while opening it. So, it’s always handy to do non-destructive analysis where you can take a look at something without ripping into it.” Pointing to the two LCD screens he continued, “This is a real time video feed, and we can easily scan over an area and are able to zoom in and see the inner workings of the watch. You can see little gears working here, and if one of these cogs was out of place or a gear tooth was broken off we ‘d easily and quickly see that. “
Paul fiddled with some knobs and zoomed in on the image so that only the spring mechanism was centered on the screen. Then, he moved in even closer and pointed out that, “Most failures in spring wind watches occur in the spring itself,” and as he zoomed further in we could see a small, “accident waiting to happen,” hairline fracture at the base of the spring.
Paul explained, “The idea is to solve a problem very quickly, but very accurately at the same time. If somebody’s having problems it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s in development or out in the field, no one wants wait and we need to solve this person’s problem fast.”
Next he put a hard drive into the x-ray machine and explained that this was his personal drive and that it had started making a squealing noise. He showed us how he could zoom into the tiny microprocessor and its even smaller controller chip. “We can see right through the metal top and plastic casing – I can go right through and look at a whole bunch of features on this chip. As an example, I’m going to zoom in a little closer and then adjust the histogram to get a nice gray scale range”
He pointed to the screen, “You’re looking at all the solder connections. These solder points are basically what adheres the chip to the printed circuit assembly. We’re actually looking right through the package at copper traces that go to little gold wires, and if we pan over a bit we’re now looking at the shadow of the microchip. You can’t actually see silicon in an x-ray machine, it’s not dense enough, but we can see the silver epoxy that’s used to glue the chip down to the surface. We’re able to really zoom in, and since the x-ray doesn’t use light we can magnify up to thousands of times very quickly.”
“Here’s something we can investigate,” he continued, “These little soldered connections beneath the chip carry heat away from the chip – it’s basically a heat sink on the other side of the chip -- and you’ll notice that these have big holes in them right here. These holes are air voids and these voids could result in less heat being transferred away from the chip than was intended. So, one of the reasons that this drive may have failed is that there may not be enough heat being transferred out from this particular area. And, we were able to drill down and find the problem without having to take anything apart and see what’s going inside the component. You just throw it in the x-ray chamber and away we go.”
He then adjusted the focus to look at the drive’s platter. “This platter spins really fast as you write data to it.” Pointing to an armature he said, “This arm floats across the surface of the platter and writes and retrieves data from the spinning disk. Normally these arms park off the drive platter so that when you transport the drive the arm doesn’t bounce on the drive’s surface and cause damage. But, as you can see, this one is awfully close the spindle here.”
He zoomed in to show the tiny pickup heads resting on the disk platter. “Each one of these heads is a tiny copper wire-wrapped electromagnet which pulses the electromagnetic energy. This one is awfully close to the spindle, and there a possibility that a bearing wore out or might have vibrated and knocked that head over to the side and it’s stuck there. The screeching noise I heard may have been this head rubbing while the device spun down from 15,000 rpm to 0 in a second. This would obviously make some noise. This configuration might have been by design, and normally we’d have a schematic in front of us that tells how it should be so we can interpret what we’re looking at. Using the real-time x-ray is the first step in the analysis and allows us to learn as much as we can, quickly and non-destructively to see if we can get to the heart of the problem.”
Electron Microscope Investigations
No materials lab worth its salt would be without an electron microscope. And, the HP lab in Ft. Collins is pretty salty, boasting a high energy scope that uses electron beams instead of light to reveal microscopic three dimensional features at very high magnifications. Because many of the components that go into HP’s workstations are microscopically small, such as the capacitors mounted on microprocessor chips, HP relies on the electron microscope to magnify a target by more than 500 times, giving Paul and his team the ability to see where no man has seen before.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth even more. I didn’t have a video camera with me, but did have my cell phone, and I took this video with it. The picture quality is good, but the cinematography is terrible. My bad. But, it does give you the opportunity to see what I saw while Paul was demonstrating the electron microscope.
Spectroscopy – Chemical Fingerprints
The Material Lab is equipped with the latest spectroscopy equipment including an Infrared Spectrometer, a gas chromatic mass spectrometer, and a really neat portable unit. These devices focus high frequency or infrared energy on an object, evaluate the bounced energy, and calculate and display the chemical composition, or fingerprint, of the object under study.
Dr. Mazurkiewicz held up the portable gadget and explained that, “This is something we recently got to help us meet environment compliance. We spend quite a lot of time here making sure that HP not only meets legal environmental compliance standards, but that we also meet our own goals which are much stricter than most laws specify. There’s a huge list of materials that HP restricts voluntarily and we screen for them here to make sure that these materials aren’t present, allowing us to deliver the greenest products possible. “
“To use this hand held x-ray spectrometer we hold it up to a surface, pull the trigger, and in about 1 second it displays a compete elemental analysis. We use these spectrographic tools to insure that our products are compliant before they go out the door.”
“The ability to take chemical fingerprints of substances allows us identify unknown material and to verify that the materials being used are the ones that we’ve specified, and that they meet or exceed our quality expectations.”
Besides chemical analysis there’s also lots of mechanical testing going on too. Paul showed us a measurement device that precisely measures the amount of force exerted on an object. And to illustrate his point we watched as the machine inserted memory chips into socket while measuring the pressure it took to accomplish this. Paul told us that, “When inserting memory strips into the socket you want to make sure that it takes exactly the right amount of force. If it takes too much force you could end up twisting and breaking the memory chips or you could bend or crack them. But, if the fit is too loose the memory could pop out of the socket. Not only do we insert the memory chips into the socket with this tool and measure the exact amount of force needed, but once we’ve finished we’ll cut the socket open and look at the physical surface of the contacts under high magnification to make sure it looks the way that we think it should. These are gold contacts, and if the gold is removed you could have electrical problems, so we go the extra step by cutting the sockets open and examining them under ultra high magnification to insure that everything‘s fine inside the connector.”
Before completing our tour of the Material Sciences lab Paul told us a mystery story, with a happy ending.
One of HP’s customers was having issues with systems failing in their environment. This was very mysterious since they were the only ones having a problem with this particular system and the power supplies were failing.
The systems were sent to the Materials lab, and the first thing the lab team did was go through the entire box looking for visual clues. Everything looked fine, so they pulled out their residue test kit and dabbed the power supply area with small sticky studs collecting surface residue evidence, just like they do in a crime lab. They then took the residue-topped studs and analyzed the residue under their electron microscope.
One of the things they found, besides the usual office dust, were tiny flecks of silver inside the box, especially inside the power supply. Using the electron microscope and spectrometer to take a closer look and analyze the silver they discovered that the silver was actually an alloy of silver that also contained a small amount of copper and other metals. They were able to match this alloy to a specific jewelry silver – the type of alloy used to make rings and jewelry.
Armed with this information, Dr. Mazurkiewicz hopped on a plane and flew to the customer’s site to take a closer look at their environment. He did additional sampling on site and discovered that the systems themselves were in what appeared to be a very clean jewelry design area.
Exploring further he came across a room, not too far away from the design area, where he watched students finishing their silver creations on grinding wheels, and creating plumes of dust. Then, when he observed the students walking out of the grinding room and back into the design lab a light bulb lit above Paul’s head.
Paul said, “What was happening was that they’d be grinding away, get the dust all over their pants sit down in front of a computer that was on the floor beneath their desks, and the computer’s cooling fans sucked all that dust into the system. Of course, you have metal dust and this conducts electricity and it was blowing out the power supplies.”
Solving this problem for good was easy. Paul and his team helped the customer rearrange their environment and their work flow model, and voila, the failure was entirely eliminated. Another case closed!
At the end of the tour Dr. Mazurkiewicz wrapped things up by saying, “Basically we’re the eyes and ears of the support engineering team and help them look very deeply into any kind of puzzle that they’re working on, from simple design problems to solving customer issues in the field. Our mission is to verify that what HP buys and then receives meets our specifications and high quality standards.”
In my next article I’ll take you on a tour of HP’s 10- and 1-meter RFI chambers to explore the zappy world of RFI emissions and interference.
A Brief Look at the HP Elitebook 8740w Mobile WorkstationBy Jeffrey Rowe
I don’t review much hardware these days, including mobile workstations, but when HP offered the EliteBook 8740w, I welcomed the opportunity. As an MCAD guy I wanted to check it out overall and to see how it performed with SolidWorks 2010.
Like its predecessor, when I unboxed the unit I was immediately taken with the physical size of the EliteBook 8740w was not as bulky as I had imagined it might be. However, weighing in at almost eight pounds (not including the AC power adapter) and the closed unit measuring 1.4” x 15.6” x 11.2”, the 8740w (slightly larger than its predecessor) is classified as a mobile workstation, but with those physical attributes, it’s more engineering workstation capable than mobile, but you could definitely carry it short distances with no problem.
The evaluation unit came loaded with Windows 7 Pro (64-bit), an Intel Core i7-820QM Processor (1.73 GHz, 8 MB L3 cache), Up-to 3.06 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, and 8 GB RAM. Enhanced graphics capabilities were provided by an ATI FirePro M7820 graphics with 1 GB dedicated GDDR5 memory, a GPU developed specifically by ATI (soon to be AMD) specifically for high-end mobile workstations. With its 1 GB memory, it provided excellent image quality, and optimized visual computing application performance, complementing the overall 8740w package.
Speaking of graphics, the Dreamcolor display is gorgeous with a couple of major changes this time around – it now displays a full one billion colors and has a wider viewing angle. One of the key selling points for the 8740w (and for good reason) is its high-end DreamColor display with 1920 x 1200 (WUXGA) resolution. If your work requires you to look at a computer screen all day, the 8740w’s display offers welcome relief because of its resolution and brightness.
The keyboard has HP’s DuraKeys for longevity and is a very generous size with a separate dedicated numeric keypad and plenty of room to rest your wrists. Even though the keyboard did have a large span, it did not flex at all, owing to the amount of metal (aluminum) used for the interior structure and exterior shell. The HP EliteBook 8740W is rugged, too, meeting military standards (MIL-STD 810G) for vibration, humidity, altitude, dust, and temperature. Overall, the components used and build quality are excellent with a reassuring solid feel.
Considering the sheer size and capabilities of this machine, I suspected battery life for the 8740w would not be too impressive. However, while performing some basic computer operations (including Web browsing, and part and assembly creation and manipulation with SolidWorks 2010), I was able to get just under three hours of life before I was warned to plug the 8740w in for recharging. Really not too bad a time away from an outlet for a machine of this size and level of performance. The HP Power Assistant provides power management from the UI (especially for radios – WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, etc), and ties in with windows power profiles for controlling power consumption
Under conditions when the CPU wasn’t being pushed too hard, the 8740w never got much warmer than the ambient room temperature in my office. However, when I was working with large assemblies in SolidWorks, the cooling fan ran quite a bit and was actually a little loud and noticeable.
Overall, though, the 8740w was enjoyable to use from visual, tactile, and performance points of view – a good experience in the limited amount of time I had to review the machine.
I ran a SolidWorks 2010 Premium on the 8740w and it performed both basic design tasks and tasks involving an assembly with over 10,000 component parts quite impressively. Beyond CPU usage, the large assembly was also a good test for the resolution and performance of the DreamColor display, and it passed with no problem.
Below are the configuration and pricing details of the HP EliteBook 8740w review unit.
- HP Elitebook 8740w Mobile Workstation - QUAD
- Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
- Intel Core i7-820QM Processor (1.73 GHz, 8 MB L3 cache), Up-to 3.06 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology
- Mobile Intel QM57 Chipset
- 17.0-inch diagonal LED-backlit DreamColor WUXGA WVA anti-glare (1920 x 1200) with camera
- Webcam Integrated 2.0MP w/HP Skyroom Required selection for Camera Display
- ATI FirePro M7820 graphics with 1 GB dedicated GDDR5 memory
- 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (4D)
- 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
- DVD+/-RW SuperMulti with Double Layer LightScribe Drive
- HP Integrated Module with Bluetooth 2.1 Wireless Technology
- Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3)
- 56K v.92 high speed modem
- Integrated Fingerprint Reader
- 200W HP Smart AC Adapter
- 8-Cell 73 Wh Li-Ion Battery (1 year warranty)
- Limited 3 year standard parts and labor warranty (3/3/3)
The configuration of the Elitebook 8740w that I reviewed priced out at $3,036. Prices start at $1,999.
For the past few years, several notebook computers have been touted as “desktop replacements.” The HP Elitebook 8740w is a positve example of this trend, and represents this evolving class very well. This mobile workstation is not perfect, but stands out as a well-designed, quality offering in this class of machine and could easily find a home in the MCAD community.
HP Elitebook 8740w
Pros: Outstanding DreamColor display; good industrial design; solid build and feel.
Cons: Mobile, but big; noisy cooling fan when system under stress.
For More Information on the HP EliteBook 8740w Mobile Workstation
The Week’s Top 5
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.
Solid Edge ST3 Delivers Dramatic New Ways to Produce Better Designs Faster
Siemens PLM Software announced Solid Edge software ST3 (Solid Edge ST3). According to the company, with this latest release, Solid Edge delivers new functionality – enabled by synchronous technology – that accelerates product design, streamlines revisions, and makes importing and reusing third-party CAD data easier. The new release also includes a variety of enhancements related to simulation, design data management, and more than a thousand customer-driven improvements. Siemens PLM Software has extended the availability of synchronous technology by making it pervasive throughout the product. In addition to support for part modeling and sheet metal design delivered in earlier versions, synchronous-based models can now be used directly with all assembly applications – such as piping, frames, wiring, and assembly features. Also delivered is a first-ever synchronous-based part-to-part associativity that lets users establish and alter design intent before, during or after the assembly design process. Solid Edge ST3 also provides a capability to work with both synchronous and non-synchronous (ordered) features in the same integrated design environment. Users can leverage synchronous features for accelerated design and flexible edits while adding ordered features for designing process-type parts, such as cast or machined parts. Ordered features in existing models can be selectively moved to the synchronous environment, providing designers with maximum flexibility and ease of use. As more companies move from other 3D systems to Solid Edge to take advantage of synchronous technology, the new capability to merge 2D drawings with existing 3D models further expands opportunities for productivity. Manufacturing dimensions on 2D drawings can now be automatically transferred to the corresponding imported 3D model. The resulting “as-manufactured” 3D dimensions can be immediately edited, modifying the imported 3D model using synchronous technology
Autodesk Brings AutoCAD Back to the Mac
Autodesk announced that AutoCAD for Mac is now available for purchase. Autodesk is making a free 30-day trial of AutoCAD for Mac available for download and will offer free educational licenses to students and educators. AutoCAD for Mac has an intuitive interface that will feel familiar to Mac users and takes full advantage of Mac OS X, including graphical browsing of design files with Cover Flow and use of Multi-Touch gestures for pan and zoom on Mac notebooks, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. With native creation and editing of files in the DWG file format, AutoCAD for Mac also supports easy collaboration with suppliers, customers, clients and partners regardless of platform. AutoCAD for Mac is also integrated with AutoCAD WS, so users can also upload and manage designs in their online workspace directly from the desktop and easily edit and share those designs through a web browser or Apple iOS devices using the free AutoCAD WS mobile application.
TRUMPF Selects SpaceClaim as the 3D Direct Modeling Solution for Its Customers
SpaceClaim announced that TRUMPF, a global manufacturer, has chosen SpaceClaim Engineer to provide 3D Direct Modeling solutions for its customers. TRUMPF is one of the world's largest producers of sheet metal fabricating equipment and a world market leader in lasers used for industrial production technology. The TRUMPF Group has 57 subsidiaries in more than 26 countries with almost 8,000 employees. The TRUMPF Group is a world leader in sheet metal fabrication machinery and industrial lasers with a broad line of machine and power tools for applications that leverage the affordability and flexibility of sheet metal. SpaceClaim recently announced the sixth release of its software, SpaceClaim 2010. The Company has broadened the use of 3D as a business tool for engineers engaged in new business development and early concept development. Throughout the supply chain, manufacturers are improving how they do business by leveraging SpaceClaim in bid modeling, concept modeling, CAE model preparation and rapid prototyping for manufacturing.
Manufacturing Technology Consumption Up In 2010
August U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $246.42 million, according to AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology and AMTDA, the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was down 5.7% from July but up 88.0% when compared with the total of $131.06 million reported for August 2009. With a year-to-date total of $1,697.27 million, 2010 is up 62.4% compared with 2009. These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTC program. The United States Manufacturing Technology Consumption (USMTC) report, jointly compiled by the two trade associations representing the production and distribution of manufacturing technology, provides regional and national U.S. consumption data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment. Analysis of manufacturing technology consumption provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.
Autodesk Expands SketchBook Product Line
Autodesk announced a series of key updates that provide a new look and feel to the Autodesk SketchBook product line, spanning both the desktop and apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2011 software offers a best-in-class digital sketching experience. A new user interface and easy-to-use toolbar provide more intuitive access to key SketchBook Pro tools, together with enhanced brushes that enable users to more easily switch between drawing modes for lines, rectangles, circles, along with more extensive customization. Users can better express and fine-tune their creations. For example, Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2011 makes it easier to adjust color and contrast, apply layer blends for easier color or effects experimentation, interactively crop images or type in text annotations and descriptions. Autodesk SketchBook Designer 2011 illustration software joins the SketchBook product line. Formerly known as Autodesk Alias Sketch, Autodesk SketchBook Designer provides professional designers and artists from all industries with a unique hybrid of paint and vector workflows for more precise design illustration and graphic communication. SketchBook Designer combines the same fluid freehand drawing capabilities of SketchBook Pro with powerful editing capabilities using mouse or pen interactions. Designers enjoy greater creative freedom to dynamically manipulate and transform any combination of paint, vector geometry and fills. What’s more, Autodesk SketchBook Designer for AutoCAD is an add-in that integrates sketching and image manipulation capabilities into AutoCAD.
Product and Company News
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