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 Jeff's MCAD Blogging

Archive for May, 2017

Wohlers Report 2017 Shows Vibrant New Business Activity In 3D Printing With Slower Worldwide Growth

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

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

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Summer Preview: Solid Edge ST10

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

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).

In 2007, UGS was acquired by the Automation & Drives Division of Siemens AG. UGS company was renamed Siemens PLM Software in October 2007.

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.”

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A Short Tale Of Two Conferences: Siemens PLM Connection & RAPID + TCT

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

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.

Siemens supports digital twins for product design, manufacturing process planning, and production through the Smart Factory loop and via the Smart Product.

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:
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Whether Additive Or Subtractive, Post Processing Remains Key For Manufacturing

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

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:

  • They usually contain a lot of information that the CNC cutting machine doesn’t need or would find confusing, such as title blocks, Bills Of Material, dimension lines, borders, welding symbols, etc.
  • They usually have multiple layers, some of which are useful to the CNC and some of which the CNC needs to ignore.
  • They sometimes have many parts in one file, some of which might need to be cut on the CNC cutter, and some might need to be machined, cast, or sent to an EDM.
  • They don’t have all of the information needed by a CNC machine. Machines need to be told when to turn a process on and off, how to lead-in and lead-out from a part, etc. All of this information is referred to as the process technology.

 

Post Processing For Subtractive Machining

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